Intel Arc for now only compatible with Intel CPUs, but AMD will arrive

Intel Arc for now only compatible with Intel CPUs, but AMD will arrive

Intel Arc for now only compatible with Intel CPUs

Intel recently published the system requirements for its new line of Arc Alchemist desktop graphics cards and, taking a quick read, we can immediately see that only 10th, 11th and 12th generation Core processors are listed, while CPUs are completely absent. AMD.

In the document, it is also “confirmed” that the Resizable BAR functionality must be enabled. Recall that Resizable BAR allows the CPU to have access to all GB of the graphics card's VRAM, improving performance in some workloads with a variable impact depending on the application. While it has long been a standard feature of the PCI Express interface, it wasn't particularly important until AMD introduced Smart Access Memory (SAM) technology with its Radeon RX 6000 graphics cards. However, it is unclear whether Resizable BAR is a real requirement or a recommended feature for "optimal performance".

Surely, the Santa Clara company will modify its "quick guide" to the installation of Arc Alchemist desktop cards, clarifying all these doubts and, of course, also adding official support for AMD processors. For the moment, we just have to wait patiently a little longer to find out more.

A few days ago, Intel officially launched its Arc A380, low-end video card based on the ACM graphics chip- G11 with Xe-HPG architecture, equipped with 8 Xe-Cores, in China. For more details about it, we suggest you to read our previous dedicated article.

Why Intel Recommends At Least A 10th Gen Core CPU To Power Arc Alchemist Graphics Cards

In case you missed it, Intel this week released its first desktop Arc Alchemist graphics card, officially launching the A380 in China with a promise to 'expand globally during the summer.' Intel also posted an online quick start guide with a curious listing under the system requirements section—it calls for a 12th Gen (Alder Lake), 11th Gen (Rocket Lake), or 10th Gen (Comet Lake) Core processor to be paired with the GPU.

It doesn't look like a Comet Lake or newer CPUs is a hard and fast requirement to actually run an Arc Alchemist graphics card in your system, but as it stands, a relatively recent Core processor is needed to enable the Resizable BAR feature for 'optimal performance.'

Here's the pertinent entry in the quick start guide...

If you're running a Coffee Lake system or one that's built around an AMD processor, you're out of luck, as it applies to enabling Resizable BAR with Arc Alchemist. Well, at least for now anyway. Intel leaves the door open to enabling support on more platforms, and specifically mentions Smart Access Memory (SAM), which is AMD's own branding for Resizable BAR. Intel notes notes in the FAQ section that support for Resizable BAR on 10th Gen Core systems is not necessarily a given and 'will vary.'

We presume that enabling Resizable BAR is not a requirement to run an Arc Alchemist graphics card, though Intel stops short of plainly stating as much. It seems unlikely, though. The more pressing question is what kind of performance hit can users expect if they're not able to enable the feature. That's something we won't know until we've had a chance to test the A380, and/or other sites compare performance.

Resizable BAR/SAM is a PCI Express technology that essentially removes memory limits between the graphics card and CPU. Things like textures and shaders get shoveled into a graphics card's VRAM, and traditionally a CPU could access that information in 256MB allotments. Resizable BAR removes that cap, thereby enabling a CPU to access a GPU's whole frame buffer.

This can improve performance by removing a potential bottleneck. The gains are not astronomical—AMD's own testing when it announced SAM was 5-11 percent at 4K Ultra settings—but we've yet to see what impact Resizable BAR has on Intel's Arc Alchemist graphics cards because they're just now hitting store shelves. Time will tell.

Intel's Arc quick start guide also outlines how to enable the feature, and notes that you can check if Resizable BAR has been enabled by using Arc Control or the Intel Driver & Support Assistant Tool.