Skip to main content

Intel just fixed a major issue with its graphics cards

The importance of drivers was once again highlighted as a single line of missing code was found to drastically lower the performance of Intel GPUs.

A new fix made to Intel graphics drivers for Linux reportedly improves the ray tracing performance by up to 100x. Can Intel Arc hope for the same kind of improvements?

Intel Arc A750M Limited Edition graphics card sits on a desk.

As reported by Phoronix, the change to the open-source Intel Mesa Vulkan driver was made by Lionel Landwerlin on Thursday. Landwerlin is an Intel Linux graphics driver engineer who has years of experience under his belt, but this time the fix was relatively small — all it took was one line of code to achieve, as Landwerlin put it, “like a 100x (not joking) improvement.” It all comes down to a problem with memory allocation.

Due to something as simple as a missing line of code, the memory allocation task was not set the way it should have been. Normally, the Vulkan driver would make sure that Vulkan ray tracing tasks would be allocated to the discrete Intel GPU. However, due to the oversight, the Vulkan driver was moving data to the slower offboard system memory and then back. These messy transfers had a massive impact on the ray tracing performance of the graphics card.

Adding the bit of code to Mesa 22.2 should bring tangible improvements. The update will roll out to end users by the end of August, and while that’s still a while from now, it’s likely to be enough time before customers are able to buy the new Intel Arc GPUs in any major capacity.

Two Intel Arc GPUs running side by side.
Linus Tech Tips

Intel Arc, in general, seems to struggle with driver optimization. Although the GPUs, which have been plagued by various delays, are still scarcely available, they will likely reach the end market sometime soon. Intel is set to attend LANfest in Colorado with a gaming bus filled with Arc-based computers, so the end of September seems like a safe bet, but the launch might happen even before that.

In the meantime, various Intel graphics cards are being spotted in benchmarks, some of which are released by Intel. The company revealed in a recent Linus Tech Tips video that it went all-in on DirectX12 compatibility, which is part of the reason why many games just don’t do well on Intel Arc. There are still some software optimizations to be made before the graphics cards are released to a wider audience.

The news about Intel driver fixes is something of a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it’s great that such a huge performance boost is on the way; on the other hand, this was a pretty big oversight with a clear impact on graphics performance. When it comes to Intel Arc GPUs, the hardware definitely has potential, so let’s hope that Intel will be able to work out the kinks in the drivers soon enough.

Editors' Recommendations

Monica J. White
Monica is a UK-based freelance writer and self-proclaimed geek. A firm believer in the "PC building is just like expensive…
Intel quietly steps out of the shadows with two new GPUs
Two Intel Arc chips in front of a blue and purple gradient background.

Intel has just released two new mobile graphics cards -- the Arc A570M and the Arc A530M. However, the launch was a little bit of a "don't blink or you'll miss it." The cards appeared on Intel's website, but there was no announcement of any kind.

Over time, we've grown quite fond of Intel's initial batch of desktop GPUs, so we're paying close attention to how the company continues to grow its mobile cards for gaming and other high-performance laptops. This unexpected launch puts Intel ahead of both AMD and Nvidia when it comes to the number of laptop GPUs available, but the actual number of computers that will utilize these cards remains to be seen.

Read more
Did Nvidia just fix the RTX 4090’s melting power connectors?
Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 GPU.

Nvidia’s 40-series graphics cards have gained an unwanted reputation for the unreliability of their 12VHPWR power connectors, with numerous accounts circulating online of connectors melting and destroying GPUs. Now, though, it seems Nvidia might have solved the problem for its RTX 4090 graphics cards.

The idea came to light after a post by prackprackprack on Reddit, with the user asking whether their new RTX 4090 featured shorter sense pins compared to older versions of the card. Shorter pins would mean the power supply couldn’t properly connect to a user’s graphics card and send it higher wattages unless the connector was correctly pushed in.

Read more
How Intel could use AI to tackle a massive issue in PC gaming
Ellie looking concerned.

Intel is making a big push into the future of graphics. The company is introducing seven new research papers to Siggraph 2023, an annual graphics conference, one of which tries to address VRAM limitations in modern GPUs with neural rendering.

The paper aims to make real-time path tracing possible with neural rendering. No, Intel isn't introducing a DLSS 3 rival, but it is looking to leverage AI to render complex scenes. Intel says the "limited amount of onboard memory [on GPUs] can limit practical rendering of complex scenes." Intel is introducing a neural level of detail representation of objects, and it says it can achieve compression rates of 70% to 95% compared to "classic source representations, while also improving quality over previous work."

Read more