When it launched last fall, Intel’s drivers for its dedicated graphics cards were in rough shape. The company’s messaging at the time—and for months before that—was something along the lines of, “We’re aware, and we’re working on it.”
I tend to be skeptical of these kinds ofWe will fix it laterPromises; you should buy products based on what they do now And it’s not what the manufacturer promised it would be able to do one day, especially for something like consumer graphics cards where there are so many alternatives. But credit where it’s due, Intel has put a great deal of work into improving its drivers in the year or so since the first Arc cards were released.
Today the company rounded up a raft of improvements to its DirectX 11 drivers since its launch, with a handful of games running about 19 percent faster on average than they did last October. While Arc’s performance in recent DirectX 12 and Vulkan games has always been good for the price, older APIs like DirectX 9 and 11 were Arc’s particular weaknesses when compared to competing cards such as the Nvidia GeForce RTX 4060 and 3060 series and AMD’s Radeon RX 7600 and 6600 series.
Intel says it has “reworked” its DirectX 11 driver over its last three releases to boost average frame rates and reduce stuttering. The Arc A750 card paired with a Core i5-13400F CPU saw a 19 percent performance increase with current drivers compared to the current driver, though some games (Monitoring 233% faster (benefit more than others)Destiny 2, only 5 percent faster). The performance gains were also more muted when used with the faster Core i9-13900K, averaging around 12 percent (though there likely aren’t many gaming PCs that pair a $220 GPU with a CPU $570).
PC games have a long life, and PC games are enduringly popular as Grand Theft Auto VAnd Monitoring 2And braveAnd Apex Legends All of which keep DirectX 11 performance relevant for new graphics card buyers. Intel used driver versions 4571 and 4642 in its most recent tests; The driver version was 3490, and the company released Driver version 4644 on Monday.
When “re-engineering” its DirectX 9 driver, one of the methods Intel used was to compile code, using tools such as Microsoft D3D9On12 To translate DirectX 9 API calls that perform poorly on Arc GPUs to ones that are better suited to Arc GPUs. Non-Windows devices from Steam Deck to Mac are increasingly relying on these kinds of localization technologies to make games portable between platforms; It makes sense to only rely on it for better performance when possible.
Intel won’t tell us directly if it uses similar technology for any DirectX 11 game Readme file that accompanies the latest driver does not mention dxvk, a translation layer that can convert DirectX 9, 10, and 11 API calls into Vulkan calls. There is no mention of D3D11on12But the company’s statement makes it sound like anything is possible as long as it improves performance.
“Our driver uses a variety of technologies to improve performance for all APIs,” an Intel spokesperson told Ars. “We also use a large variety of third party IPs which we of course refer to in our release notes. More importantly, our implementation details are volatile and details change from driver to driver and game to game. At the end of the day it’s the most The importance of the facts is the continuous improvement of our performance for the players.”
It’s great to see Intel continue to deliver on its promises, but it’s worth noting that DirectX 11 performance on Arc cards remains relatively low even with these gains.
We retest GPUs periodically with new drivers, but we pay special attention to Arc cards because of how far the company goes about how much work its software needs. We last tested with driver version 4369 for the Radeon RX 7600 and GeForce RTX 4060/4060 Ti revisions, so our latest numbers likely won’t reflect some of Intel’s recent improvements.
But even with a 19 percent performance boost, the Arc A770 and A750 still hold up a little short of a Older GeForce RTX 3060 Although More than competitive In DirectX 12 games. The driver improvements made things much better than they were, but it’s still a (relatively) shortcoming of Intel’s GPUs.
So how does Arc work?
Intel clearly puts a lot of effort into their drivers, but does that translate into sales?
It’s hard to say for sure because Intel doesn’t do much to differentiate consumer GPU sales from the rest of the revenue generated by the “customer computing group,” revenue numbers that also include all of the company’s CPUs and its (dwindling) lineup of other consumer products. .
Analyst John Beddy of John Beddy Research Intel’s share of GPU sales for the first quarter of 2023 is estimated to be about 4 percent, which is not voice Particularly impressive until you consider the fact that AMD is sitting at only about 12 percent. Radeon GPUs have been around for decades, AMD sells tons of models at all kinds of price points, and Intel has managed to get about a third of the number of sales with just a few models from one product generation. (Granted, both pale in comparison to Nvidia, which is still dominant.)
However, Intel has not been able to convince many GPU manufacturers to join its cause. Newegg lists only a few A750 models, 8GB A770 and 16GB A770, mostly from ASRock but with a few from Acer (which didn’t sell GPUs prior to the Arc), and sparkle (which sold specialty GeForce cards in the mid-2000s and reverted to GPU-only selling Arc cards starting in 2023). Intel has stop making Its limited edition A770 (although there is “limited” in the name, so we won’t read much into that).
And no matter how well Arc cards sell, none (so far) do well enough to fall out of the “Other” category in Steam’s hardware survey (“Other” includes about 10.7 percent of all GPUs, and most CPUs). The graphics named in the listing are well below 1 percent). Intel and AMD both struggle to crack the top tier of this chart, and the two companies’ most-used GPUs are actually the all-in-one versions you’ll find in most laptops. Most of Nvidia’s 40-series cards rank somewhere in the middle of the list, while the only current-gen card from AMD that’s charting is the RX 7900 XTX, which barely eclipses “other” with a 0.17 percent share.
Fortunately for Intel, Arc cards are still reasonably competitive in the $200 to $300 price range, though that has as much to do with Nvidia and AMD as it does with Intel. The Arc A750 and A770 launched so late in Nvidia’s RTX 30 product cycle and AMD’s RX 6000 cycle, and there was a chance that the new mid-range RTX 40 and RX 7000 series cards could render Intel’s faster cards irrelevant before then. He was out for a year.
But updates to both the RX 4060 Series and the RX 7600 Series have been very moderate, resulting in modest performance increases over their predecessors. These moderate updates mean that Intel can still compete with those mid-range cards in terms of performance and cost, if not power consumption. And driver improvements like the one Intel talked about today will keep Arc in the conversation while the company releases next-generation cards (codenamed “Battlemage”) that will hopefully help Arc better compete with high-end Nvidia and AMD GPUs. .
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