Intel Arc GPUs to Ship Without Cryptocurrency Mining Limitations
In a recent interview with Gadgets 360, Intel’s Senior Vice President Raja Koduri and Roger Chandler, an Intel Graphics Product Team member spoke about the upcoming Arc GPUs, due in early 2022. In the interview Chandler talked about Intel’s stance on cryptocurrency mining on its upcoming GPUs. It seems that Intel are following a path of no intervention, letting the market and buyers decide what they use their graphics card for.
In the interview, Chandler said that “[…] As far as like software lockouts and things of that nature, we’re not designing this product or building any features at this point that specifically target miners. As far as actions we’re taking to avoid or lock them out, it’s a product that will be in the market and people will be able to buy it. It’s not a priority for us.” This signals a stance that’s similar to that of AMD, who hasn’t imposed any limitations on what workloads users can perform on their graphics cards. This is different to the artificial product segmentation that Nvidia elected to do with its Cryptocurrency Mining Processor (CMP) series of GPUs, alongside the introduction of the hashrate limitation the company imposed on its LHR (Lite Hash Rate) GeForce products. Both approaches have their own drawbacks, but it seems that Intel doesn’t think it’s its place to police what kind of workloads users get access to on their GPUs – which, depending on how performant and power efficient Intel GPUs are, could pique a miner’s interest in their ARC Alchemist products when they finally hit the market.
Speaking on current market conditions and supply expectations, Intel’s graphics head Raja Koduri stated that the company can’t really forecast in full detail how availability will pan out when ARC Alchemist actually hits the market – but was quick to point out that neither could AMD or Nvidia. As Mr. Koduri put it, “We’ll be coming in as a third player. I’ll always be very cautious, when the demand is so high and when the market is so hard. I can always use more supply. So I’m not going to say I have enough supply in this high-demand market. I think every one of my competitors will say the same thing right now.” We still have no idea how Intel’s entry into the market will impact available supply between the three players, as Intel has contracted TSMC to manufacture its GPUs on the 6 nm process – eventually fighting for the same overall amount of wafers as both AMD and Nvidia.
Intel has likely spent billions in salaries and R&D relative to the development of ARC and its entire high-performance graphics portfolio and products. Considering how this is the company’s first attempt at penetrating that market, it’s fighting an uphill battle regarding consumer perception, not counting with the software engineering requirements to have a successful graphics card product launch. Outsourcing the GPU manufacturing will also lead Intel to incur in higher manufacturing costs than if it were taking advantage of its own vertical integration for semiconductor manufacturing – and we already know why Intel made the choice to go with TSMC on that regard. It seems only natural that Intel isn’t looking to lock out a potential source of higher demand for its graphics card products – which in turn would lead to higher revenues, market penetration, and profits for the up-and-coming discrete GPU manufacturer.