Intel’s Partners Are Allegedly Hesitant to Sell Arc GPUs
As Intel inches closer to the launch of its Arc discrete graphics cards, one question remains paramount: Which companies will sell them? Will we have the usual options ranging from Asus, Gigabyte, MSI, and others? According to new reporting from Igor’s Lab, that might be a bridge too far. It also just might be part of Intel’s plan.
It’s an often forgotten part of a product launch like this, which is that Intel has to convince its partners to get onboard. Normally, competitive pricing and performance helps, but for Arc that might not be a given. There are also questions over Return to Manufacturer (RMA) support, as well.
Igor lays it all out in a new blog post, which makes it seem like Intel has a difficult road ahead of it with Arc. He’s based in Germany, and all of his sources are in the European market. First off, he says Intel has chosen to prioritize system integrators and OEMs for the Arc launch. That means retail cards may or may not be available. Instead, you’ll have to buy a complete system from companies such as Asus, Cyberpower, Maingear, and Origin. That’s not an unusual scenario for a new GPU launch.
However, cards are also typically available at retail for those who just want to upgrade their GPU. But Igor says several companies have told him Intel’s plan is to forgo retail at launch, as GPU makers are sitting on a ton of “old” inventory right now. This is the much-discussed GPU flood that has occurred due to crypto falling off a cliff.
Therefore, if the cards will only be bundled in pre-built PCs made by integrators and OEMs, are those companies on board? Apparently not, according to Igor’s sources. He said the main reason is Intel’s package isn’t as attractive as AMD or Nvidia’s. The package includes price guarantees that let resellers be competitive and the structure of RMA policies. Apparently, whatever Intel cooked up is just not up to snuff. Igor notes that Intel is essentially asking these companies to take a risk on Arc, as blockbuster sales are not guaranteed despite its pedigree. Because of that risk, Intel needs to be more flexible, which it is reportedly resisting. He says at least in Germany he knows of several partners that straight up told Intel, “No thanks.”
This brings us to the inevitable quandary: If Intel isn’t selling retail boards, and system integrators won’t sell them, who will? Intel entering the market poses a difficult question for add-in board (AIB) makers. They already sell cards from Nvidia and AMD, sometimes exclusively like with EVGA with Nvidia and Sapphire with AMD, for example. Intel’s cards will compete directly with their current offerings. Obviously, Nvidia and AMD would like to prevent that from happening. Igor says this exact battle played out with ASRock, as it was the first AIB to offer Arc GPUs in China. Previously, it only sold AMD GPUs. Still, it’s one more piece of the puzzle Intel must solve.
All of this leads to the rumor spoken in hushed tones across the internet, which is whether Intel will just pull the plug on Arc at some point. YouTuber Moore’s Law is Dead reported recently that this exact discussion is happening right now at the highest levels of Intel’s C-suite. One source told him that Celestial, which is two generations in the future, will never see the light of day. Another said the next generation, dubbed Battlemage, will likely never launch. If that’s true, it means Intel’s upcoming launch of Arc Alchemist could be the company’s only discrete GPUs. He says the Intel PR team that is currently making the rounds will hype Arc until the very second the decision is made to kill it.
In the end, Igor paints a bleak picture for Arc’s impending arrival. He says if its partners get cold feet, it will be left to its own devices. This will require it to sell its own Intel-branded reference boards, which might be one of the only ways to get one. That is not how you gain market share in today’s world.
Suffice to say, this is not the way anyone thought this would go. As always, the GPUs have yet to launch in the US, so we’ll have to wait and see. However, as Igor says, he’s not optimistic, and he’s not the only one feeling that way. Here, here, brother.