How is Intel doing in 2022? In many ways, it’s been a rollercoaster year for Team Blue, with highs and notable lows. Let’s dive right in and see where Intel has made good progress this year, and where it’s off track differently (or more).
Raptors get away with it
In early 2022, Intel made progress in regaining desktop market share from AMD thanks to strong Alder Lake processor sales, followed by new 13th-generation CPUs later in the year.
Intel launches its Raptor Lake processors in October 2022, or at least the first desktop CPUs led by the flagship Core i9-13900K. Although this is “just” an Alder Lake update on paper, the 13th-gen newcomer adds a lot of oomph to and above Intel’s 12th-gen. Raptor Lake is equipped with more efficient cores, it has increased cache, and the overall performance is well improved over Alder Lake.
The flagship 13900K in particular blew us away with multi-core performance and is a very good heavyweight chip, and while it’s power hungry it’s clearly not cheap. Further down the Raptor Lake lineup, though, there are some CPUs that are also great, with the Core i5-13600K proving to be a more affordable option that offers great gaming performance at an excellent value proposition.
Intel has undoubtedly won the mid-range chip wars with AMD’s Ryzen 7600X which hit shelves before the 13600K, and while these CPUs are actually pretty well matched in terms of performance, the Red team lost out due to the upgrade cost of migrating to the new Zen 4 platform. (i.e. new motherboards – at the time of writing there are still no real wallet-friendly options on the table – plus DDR5 RAM is mandatory, while cheaper DDR4 RAM can still be used with Raptor Lake).
In short, Raptor Lake was such a big win for Intel in 2022 that AMD slashed the prices of its (still very new) Zen 4 CPUs (especially on Black Friday, but also after). Incidentally, the Core i9-13900K also claimed the crown for the fastest overclock ever for a desktop CPU – a staggering 8.8GHz. This highlights the potential of this silicon for enthusiast overclockers.
Intel’s Alchemist GPU isn’t so magical
In 2022, Intel finally launched Arc Alchemist discrete graphics to fight against AMD and Nvidia. This is a big moment for Intel to start establishing itself as a third player in the graphics card market and inject some much-needed competitiveness, although sadly the beginnings of Arc GPUs (for laptops and desktops) can be described in two words : Shaky and wobbly. The two words mean the same thing, of course, but Arc’s early days are all over the place so much that it’s doubling down on the shaky nature of the launch.
We’re witnessing delays, GPUs only launching in Asia, Intel promising things aren’t that far off, and then more delays…you get the idea. In short, the disappointment is on many fronts, from delayed release dates – or not even being provided – to the performance of Arc graphics cards starting to appear in 2022 (the budget-oriented A3 series and the high-end A7). Nope Stable drivers and performance issues are proving to be thorny issues for many games.
At one stage, there were even rumors that Intel was doing so poorly with its Arc GPUs that the company was considering dropping the entire project, a claim the Blue team vehemently denied, and has since proven how serious it is about continuing to use Arc .
In fact, at the end of the year, Intel made significant progress with the Arc GPU driver, bringing a huge performance boost to some games. That’s an optimistic outcome until at least 2022, and if Intel can continue to phase out drivers and price them competitively, its new GPU story, the Arc, could have a happy ending. It’s definitely not what we envisioned in the middle of the year, that’s for sure.
It’s clear that Nvidia is still open to attacking the budget end of the market, which still seems to be a secondary priority for Team Green, so there’s a clear space Intel can exploit against dominant GPU power.
XeSS — Intel’s equivalent of Nvidia’s DLSS or AMD’s FSR — has also quietly established itself as a force in the framerate boosting world, and early initial performance has been impressive.
What we have to remember here is that in their first incarnations, DLSS and FSR had their fair share of stumbling blocks, and Intel’s opening salvo with XeSS was relatively impressive in this initial implementation. That bodes well for the future, and the progress we’ve just made with the Arc graphics driver.
Lay Process Accelerator
Intel ends 2022 with a lot of talk about how it has accelerated chip development and production, including making chips for third parties like MediaTek, and moving without delay to more advanced processes — meaning faster, more efficient chips. As you may recall, delays in this area are something Intel has suffered badly in the past (seemingly stuck forever on the 14nm refresh of its CPUs).
That’s all a thing of the past, though, according to Ann Kelleher, Intel’s vice president and general manager of technology development, who said in December that Intel is not only on the right track, but is actively ahead of its competitors in some areas. Team Blue is already mass-producing 7nm chips — the next step up from current 10nm silicon — and the company is ready to start at 4nm, the next step after that.
That’s “watch out AMD – we’re going to steal more ground from Ryzen processors” code.
Falling profits and layoffs
While it may be getting back on track in terms of polishing and introducing new processes, and plans are being made to regain leadership in chip production, it’s not without Intel making tough decisions in 2022 as its profit levels drop significantly (the PC business significantly down) Of course, the sales didn’t help Team Blue).
You may recall that Intel shut down its Optane memory business in July, and then in September, our CEO Pat Kissinger warned that Intel’s performance would continue to decline going forward, in important areas like server CPUs (expected The decline will, in fact, continue until 2025).
All of this culminated in an October announcement of a cost-cutting plan involving a “meaningful amount” of employee layoffs, with Intel hoping to save roughly $3 billion next year (and far more than that, by the way, up to $10 billion cost).
Intel does have success in 2022, especially in consumer processors – and Raptor Lake not only solidifies the progress made behind Alder Lake – but this is happening against the backdrop of a difficult server market, with very volatile Arc GPUs and a disappointing launch, along with shrinking profits and layoffs.
It’s hard to say that the year has been good for Intel, but the company does seem to be recalibrating itself to prepare for better things to come. Of course, staying on track with ramping up chip production capacity and advancing new processes without delay – Meteor Lake CPUs are still on track for a 2023 launch.
Let’s not forget that 2022 isn’t all plain sailing for Arc graphics. It’s been a bad start for the GPU, let’s not hide it, but as the year draws to a close, Intel’s drivers are making good progress in terms of performance gains (XeSS has established itself nicely). In fact, Intel gained a notable 4% discrete GPU market share at the end of the year, and is likely to gain even more in the budget space in 2023.
There is a sense that the negative aspects of the past year may have turned out to be more positive – except, of course, for those very unfortunate job losses.