PCGamer recently penned a cry for help to Intel’s CEO Pat Gelsinger on behalf of gamers worldwide who haven’t been able to buy a decent GPU at a reasonable price in a few years. The message was simple: you’re the only company that can step in and end this madness, thanks to the impending arrival of your Arc Alchemist lineup of discrete GPUs. Surprisingly, Intel has responded, saying it’s aware of the issue, and it does indeed plan on being the savior we all hoped would come along some day.
PCGamer’s letter is titled, “An open letter to Intel: Help, you’re our only way out of the GPU crisis,” and it implores the company to enter the GPU market with high volume and reasonable prices. This should theoretically apply pressure to both Nvidia and AMD, who so far have been unable or unwilling to do anything to curb the insane pricing of graphics cards. The RTX 3050 and RX 6500 XT are essentially remakes of previous GPUs with mostly useless ray tracing bolted on and higher price tags. And don’t even get us started on the “refreshed” RTX 3080 12GB, which is almost double the price of the original RTX 3080.
Intel graphics chief Raja Koduri was first to respond to PCGamer, and as the former architect for AMD’s GPU division he has an intimate knowledge of the industry. “I am with you, @pcgamer. This is a huge issue for PC gamers and the industry at large,” he wrote. “@IntelGraphics is working hard to find a path towards the mission – getting millions of Arc GPUs into the hands of PC gamers every year.” Later, Intel’s CEO Pat Gelsinger chimed in, tweeting, “I am with you, too @pcgamer. We are on it.”
Promising words, no doubt, and it’s also significant that Pat replied himself. It’s quite rare for the CEO of a company as large as Intel to be on Twitter replying directly to people, but we assume Raja tipped him off. Still, it’s encouraging that Intel is listening and aware of how they can “disrupt” an industry that has only gotten worse as the pandemic has continued.
There’s a problem with the idea that Intel can fix this, however. Intel is using TSMC’s 6nm process for its GPU fabrication duties. TSMC’s foundries are already pushed to the limit and Intel’s launch may not increase the absolute number of GPUs being built worldwide every month.
Regardless, PCGamer is right that Intel has a huge opportunity in front of it right now, with an industry literally begging for their products. One remaining unknown is how Intel will position and price its GPUs. Previously the company had stated that its Arc lineup would be launching in Q1 2022. It even printed that date on slides shown at CES a few weeks ago. Then the company quietly scrubbed all references to “Q1” for the Arc launch on its website. That’s not a good sign. However, like many gamers, we remain hopeful that Intel has something decent in the pipeline. The company has stated it wants to compete in the “high performance” category as opposed to just releasing a budget card, and lord knows there’s pent up demand for a graphics card that can run 1440p at high frame rates with ray tracing. According to Intel’s previous teaser video, that’s the company’s performance target. Will Intel deliver? Nobody knows the answer to that question, but the company is clearly aware of the unusual moment it finds itself in.