Intel boosts Arc performance with new drivers, unveils XeSS plugin for the Unreal Engine

mongeese

Posts: 626   +122
Staff member
Recap: Intel lifted the lid on two major updates to its Arc software stack at the end of last week. It announced a new driver that adds support for four recently released games and improves performance by ~5% in eight others, and a plugin for the Unreal Engine that makes it easier for developers to add XeSS to their games.

Intel has been working with developers to manually add XeSS to a fair few games (Intel has a mostly complete list here). It sounds like a fairly quick addition to make, but with the plugin it should be a downright trivial addition to any game that uses the Unreal Engine.

There are three versions of the plugin (on GitHub) for UE 4.0, 4.26, and 5.0, so games that are already under development with an older version of the engine should be able to add XeSS, too.

Of course, the plugin has the same limitations as baked-in XeSS. It doesn't support split screens or VR and it only works with the DirectX 12 API. It also works best on Intel Arc GPUs and struggles to compete against the more hardware-agnostic AMD FSR 2.0 in games that support both. FSR is similarly available as a UE plugin and is also open-source, which XeSS is not.

Intel also announced a new driver for the Arc A-series that promises wider compatibility, performance improvements, and bug fixes. Principally, it adds support for Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Call of Duty: Warzone 2.0, Sonic Frontiers, and Dysterra. The driver is available now but still in beta. It should be bumped up to release in the next few weeks.

According to Intel release notes, the driver can improve performance by "up to" 3% in five titles: Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy, Forza Horizon 5, Far Cry 6, Chorus, and Sniper Elite 5. It also pushes the performance up by 5% in Gotham Nights, 7% in Ghostwire Tokyo, and 8% in Dirt 5. Intel did its benchmarking with max or close to max settings at a mix of 1080p and 1440p.

Intel also fixed a few bugs in some popular titles. Doom Eternal no longer flickers on certain maps, Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Siege now experiences consistent performance, the lighting is fixed in Death Stranding Director's Cut, and the vertical lines are gone from Forza Horizon 5. There are also numerous bug fixes for the Arc Control app that should bring it into the realm of usable, although it still has a long way to go.

There are plenty more known issues that Intel admits to in the patch notes, and the community knows of quite a few more. If you bought an Arc GPU you knew what you were getting, but let's focus on the positives. Intel is starting to live up to its promise of continuing to refine its drivers and software stack, and that's something for early adopters to be happy about.

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Kam7r

Posts: 124   +243
" the driver can improve performance by "up to" 3% in five titles" = margin of error... nothing to be proud of...
 

Hardware Geek

Posts: 455   +533
If Intel is actually committed to becoming a real player in the dgpu market, that can only benefit consumers in the end. I wish they would open source their drivers but at least they are making progress. I honestly expected they would kill of the dgpu division but it looks like they actually plan to continue iterating on their architecture and producing good dgpus. Intel bringing the AMD and Nvidia duopoly is certainly ironic as well. 😂😂😂
 

neeyik

Posts: 2,214   +2,676
Staff member
any chance of doing a few benchmarks using DXVK for dx9/10 titles? to see how it compares to intel's own implementation.
One can never say never, with such things, but to do such an analysis justice, cards other than Intel's would need to be included, to isolate variables within the testing. And given that the use DXVK is somewhat of a niche thing, it's a lot of work for something that might not be particularly conclusive or of interest to a broad section of people. An architectural comparison is in the works, which will shed some light on why Alchemist struggles in older games, compared to AMD and Nvidia GPUs.
 

TheRealSCDC

Posts: 443   +747
If it weren't for the current prices of GPU's I wouldn't even be looking at these Intel ARC articles. But who knows how good they may become. I keep looking for a decent upgrade to match my AMD Ryzen 9 5950x. Even AMD's decent prices have fizzled away the past month. All video cards old and new are going up up up.
 

Theinsanegamer

Posts: 3,740   +6,497
If Intel is actually committed to becoming a real player in the dgpu market, that can only benefit consumers in the end. I wish they would open source their drivers but at least they are making progress. I honestly expected they would kill of the dgpu division but it looks like they actually plan to continue iterating on their architecture and producing good dgpus. Intel bringing the AMD and Nvidia duopoly is certainly ironic as well. 😂😂😂
ARC drivers are already open source on Linux, as they have always been. Same as AMDs.
 

azicat

Posts: 168   +215
Still a hard sell where I'm located, where the A770 is priced around 15-20% more than an RTX 3060.

AFAIK productivity apps are yet to catch up with performance as well. Apparently only gets ahead in transcoding if paired with an Alder Lake CPU, according to some early Resolve benchmarking.

Nevertheless, I hope Intel continues developing this promising product line. A slight price drop also wouldn't go astray.
 

Watzupken

Posts: 693   +584
Intel FineWine technology. Two can play the same game lol.
You mean Raja's fine wine? It is not a bad thing that they can optimize it for higher performance, but considering that they started with a low bar, so I would expect more performance improvement over time.
To me, any company should always deliver their A game when delivering any product or service. People make their decision to buy a GPU for example, based on the immediate benefit and not something that one may get over time. Thus, AMD's GPUs tend to be less attractive as compared to Nvidia's. Even though the latter can't care less about previous gen GPUs.
 

Avro Arrow

Posts: 3,028   +3,919
TechSpot Elite
If I had any faith that Intel's involvement in the GPU fray would bring prices down, I'd be excited. Based on their history, I have ZERO faith in them and am therefore disinterested. They would just be another nVidia.
 

emmzo

Posts: 754   +1,141
There are some games that get as much as 13%. So there is that. Why are you complaining about improvements and extra performance? That seems a lacking point of view.
I'm not complaining, just stating the fact they are far off from having a competitive product. I'll cheer, when they actually have something to brag about, I love competition just as the next guy.
 

ZedRM

Posts: 1,326   +930
I'm not complaining, just stating the fact they are far off from having a competitive product. I'll cheer, when they actually have something to brag about, I love competition just as the next guy.
Then seem to be missing some context. 10% increase is a serious improvement. If you can't see that, nothing anyone here can say will be of any help to you.
 

hwertz

Posts: 192   +114
I don't need a GPU for a while; but I have an 11th gen Intel (Tiger Lake) GPU in my current notebook; I don't use Windows but the performance in Ubuntu Linux (22.04) is excellent (and even better with an update -- I updated from Ubuntu stock 22.0.x Mesa to 22.2.x Mesa.) Almost every game I've been able to just set it to max settings, no sweat (one or two I had to turn down to medium.) If the price comes down on the Arc GPUs a bit I could see them being quite competitive with AMD and Nvidia's offerings.

The Linux Intel graphics drivers were fully modernized within the last 2-3 years, using the fully modern Mesa 3D internals and supporting OpenGL 4.6 + Vulkan 1.2 on all but the oldest devices with excellent performance. More or less for Arc they just had to add support to the Intel driver for using dedicated video memory (as opposed to the shared memory of all previously supported Intel GPUs.) From what I read on Phoronix, they already are running OpenGL, Vulkan, and (through Wine) Direct3D 9-12 games, essentially drama-free.
 

Puiu

Posts: 5,873   +4,883
TechSpot Elite
I don't need a GPU for a while; but I have an 11th gen Intel (Tiger Lake) GPU in my current notebook; I don't use Windows but the performance in Ubuntu Linux (22.04) is excellent (and even better with an update -- I updated from Ubuntu stock 22.0.x Mesa to 22.2.x Mesa.) Almost every game I've been able to just set it to max settings, no sweat (one or two I had to turn down to medium.) If the price comes down on the Arc GPUs a bit I could see them being quite competitive with AMD and Nvidia's offerings.

The Linux Intel graphics drivers were fully modernized within the last 2-3 years, using the fully modern Mesa 3D internals and supporting OpenGL 4.6 + Vulkan 1.2 on all but the oldest devices with excellent performance. More or less for Arc they just had to add support to the Intel driver for using dedicated video memory (as opposed to the shared memory of all previously supported Intel GPUs.) From what I read on Phoronix, they already are running OpenGL, Vulkan, and (through Wine) Direct3D 9-12 games, essentially drama-free.
Arc drivers and the iGPU drivers are fairly different and you should not expect the same maturity.