Intel Arc graphics cards have been severely disappointing since they hit the desktop – also only launched in China – but there has just been a brief spurt of excitement around the rumor that Team Blue may have an ace up its sleeve. Unfortunately this did not happen.
The ace in question was multi-GPU support, meaning multiple GPUs can be installed on the same PC and work together to raise levels of gaming performance – which if Intel could do this well would be a major advantage compared to AMD and Nvidia. (The Red Team’s CrossFire is dead, and so is the Green Team’s SLI, though still somehow kicking up.)
The news that Intel was planning such a multi-GPU innovation – which should have been shown at SIGGRAPH 2022 but didn’t quite make it – came from Tweaktown (opens in a new tab)but the tech service later reported that after it released the story, Intel contacted to clarify that multi-card support is only very limited.
Intel told TweakTown: “Intel showed a Blender Cycles rendering demonstration on SIGGRAPH with Intel Arc Graphics. OneAPI multi-GPU rendering support for Intel Arc and Intel Arc Pro graphics cards is supported since Blender 3.3. Intel Arc Graphics doesn’t support multiple GPUs in games. “
This effectively refutes the idea that PC gamers could benefit from accelerated FPS with more than one Arc GPU in their PC.
Analysis: OK, so not now – but maybe in the future?
We can see why people jumped at it and got excited so quickly. The entire launch of Arc for desktops saw discrete GPUs out of the gate, and bad news regarding drivers and stability was compounded by further concerns about whether the entire project was to be canceled. The latter is something Intel has strenuously denied, remember.
Anyway, we’re all pretty disappointed with Arc Alchemist right now, so a glimmer of hope will inevitably be used for something unexpected. Especially since Intel talked about moving to the multi-GPU path with games at first, and as we saw at the time, it seemed like it could be a viable way for Team Blue to significantly differentiate its desktop graphics cards from AMD and Nvidia.
Of course, just because this isn’t happening with Alchemist doesn’t mean Intel won’t be looking at game implementations in a future generation of GPUs. If we go that far, but of course the worry is that the equation driver side is already seriously problematic for Intel, which complicates things even more with the multi-card implementation – a notoriously difficult thing as gamers already know from previous SLI experience and the like. – does not seem like a reasonable idea.