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Intel adds support for Intel Arc Alchemist GPUs in its new Intel Media Driver 22.1.1

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According to Phoronix, Intel Media Driver version 22.1.1 has been posted to the GitHub repository. Linux systems use this driver to speed up video decoding, encoding, and processing on Intel GPUs. The addition of support for Intel Arc Alchemist GPUs makes this release particularly noteworthy. We’re still trying to figure out when Arc Alchemist will be released on mobile and desktop, but it’s nice to see this foundation being laid.

The Intel Media Driver 22 is referred to on its GitHub pages as the 2021 Q4 release, even though it was released today. The driver includes some major fixes in addition to upgrades and increased hardware support.

On the Intel Media Driver 22.1.1 GitHub release page, you can see that it supports video acceleration on devices dating back to Broadwell (5th Gen Intel Core processors). Of course, the most interesting bullet point in the support list is the last one, where Alchemist (DG2) is specifically highlighted. It also mentions ATS-M (Arctic Sound Mainstream), a workstation Xe-HP GPU for High-Performance Computing that we previously covered in May of last year.

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Aside from the headline-grabbing Intel Arc Alchemist support, this latest Intel/Linux driver also includes support for a sub-series of CPUs that have yet to be released and aren’t included in our extensive Alder Lake processor family description. Alder Lake-N is a 12th Gen ULV processor family that sits beneath the ADL-M family, as described in this Media Driver 22.1.1 release.

The driver update also includes some significant quality of life improvements that current users may appreciate. Increased AV1 video decoding resilience for stability with problematic files, higher performance with NV12 format files, HEVC sub-features caps reporting, and improved overall compatibility are among these improvements. Check out the readme file for further information on the driver’s features and the most recent modifications.

The first Intel Arc products were intended to hit the market in Q1 2022, but we discovered a fortnight ago that Intel has removed any reference of this quarter from its publicity and marketing materials. Instead, it now says, “coming in 2022.” We’ve been assured that some Arc GPUs will still be released this quarter, but we don’t know which ones.

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The intriguing Arc Alchemist GPU family from Intel is just the start of a long line of generations planned out through 2025. According to PCI-ID strings discovered, there could be as many as 32 models/versions of Arc Alchemist GPUs.

More recently, we received leaked benchmark data (take it with a grain of salt) that positioned the Arc A380 as a strong competitor to the Nvidia GeForce RTX 1650 Super, putting it in the same performance bracket as AMD’s new Radeon RX 6500 XT, which was released earlier today. The 30-second gameplay teaser published at The Game Awards in December is perhaps the best action we’ve seen from Intel regarding Arc.

We’re still waiting on final hardware and drivers, at which point we’ll be able to see how Arc stacks up against AMD and Nvidia’s current GPUs. Given the recent spate of apparent mobile-first marketing, it’s a safe guess that Arc won’t be claiming the top spot in our GPU benchmarks hierarchy, but if it’s priced properly and accessible, that may not matter.

also read:

CPU and GPU prices to be increased in 2022 by AMD, Intel, and Nvidia

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Nivedita Bangari
Nivedita Bangari
I am a software engineer by profession and technology is my love, learning and playing with new technologies is my passion.

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