Skip to main content

Intel XeSS support establishes a balance between DLSS and FSR

XeSS is an a supersampling feature for Intel’s upcoming Arc Alchemist graphics cards. We’ve known since it was announced that the feature will work across recent Intel and Nvidia graphics cards, and now AMD has confirmed that its most recent cards will be able to accelerate the supersampling instructions, too.

For background, XeSS is coming in two versions. One will leverage Xe Matrix Extension (XMX) on Intel Arc graphics cards to upscale the image, while the other will use DP4a instructions. Nvidia has supported DP4a on its GPUs for the last three generations. Up till now, it hasn’t been clear if AMD cards support the instruction set, too.

Intel XeSS rendering pipeline demonstration.
The rendering pipeline for Intel XeSS. Image used with permission by copyright holder

In a comment to Computer Base, AMD confirmed that RX 6000 cards support DP4a, meaning they’ll work with XeSS. Unfortunately, AMD’s most recent cards are the cutoff point. The RX 5000-series and older Vega or Polaris cards don’t support DP4a instructions, so they won’t work with XeSS.

For Nvidia, XeSS supports more graphics cards than even Nvidia’s own Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS). DLSS requires an RTX graphics card, restricting it to the RTX 20-series and 30-series. XeSS works with these generations, as well as GTX 10-series graphics cards. GTX 9-series and older cards aren’t supported.

Intel’s latest cards will support the feature, but also recent integrated GPUs. The Xe LP architecture — found in the integrated graphics of mobile Tiger Lake chips — supports DP4a instruction. Older generations don’t, unfortunately.

It looks like Intel is establishing a nice middle-ground between DLSS and AMD’s FidelityFX Super Resolution (FSR). DLSS is highly restrictive, but it takes advantage of dedicated hardware to produce a better-looking image once the dirty upscaling work is done. FSR doesn’t look as good, and it’s based on much simpler tech, but it works with most graphics cards.

XeSS doesn’t support as many GPUs as FSR, but it doesn’t need to. It supports the most recent graphics cards from all major vendors, including better support for Nvidia GPUs than even Nvidia offers. FSR works with a wider range of cards, but it sounds like XeSS is something much more involved, more akin to DLSS in terms of quality.

We should point out that DP4a is uncharted territory for this kind of supersampling tech. The DP4a instruction set is mostly used to accelerate artificial intelligence (A.I.) calculations, but you shouldn’t confuse it with dedicated A.I. accelerators such as XMX or Nvidia’s Tensor cores. These accelerators are at the heart of XeSS and DLSS, respectively.

Intel XeSS quality comparison.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Intel has confirmed a “smart” trade-off in quality and performance with the DP4a version. There’s a difference, but we don’t know how significant that difference is. Given that XeSS uses machine learning, even the DP4a version should produce a better result than FSR, but we don’t know at this point.

Between XeSS and support for hardware-accelerated ray tracing, Intel is positioning itself to challenge Nvidia and AMD in a big way. The features are right, but we still don’t have any indication about how Arc Alchemist cards or XeSS will perform. It will be an interesting three-way battle once the cards show up in early 2022.

Editors' Recommendations

Jacob Roach
Senior Staff Writer, Computing
Jacob Roach is a writer covering computing and gaming at Digital Trends. After realizing Crysis wouldn't run on a laptop, he…
AMD FSR vs. Nvidia DLSS: Which upscaler is best?
Godfall screenshot with simulated FSR effect.

AMD's FidelityFX Super Resolution (FSR) and Nvidia's Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS) are quickly becoming must-have features in the latest PC games. They help the best graphics cards along by rendering the game at a lower resolution to boost performance. But between them, which one reigns supreme?

DLSS may be the older of the two, but some clever tech helps it to keep an edge. That said, AMD has been improved FSR with a new version that delivers similar image quality to DLSS, and without requiring an AMD GPU. From performance to image quality to game support, here's how FSR and DLSS stack up.
FSR vs. DLSS: What's the difference?

Read more
FSR 2.0 is the complete reboot AMD’s upscaling needed
Julianna pins Colt to the ground in Deathloop.

AMD announced the next version of FidelityFX Super Resolution (FSR) not too long ago and the company shed more light on how it works on a technical level at GDC 2022.

FSR 1.0 wasn't perfect, and the new version looks to improve image quality while sticking to the values that made FSR stand out in the first place. Here's what we learned about FSR 2.0 at GDC 2022, and how it might impact your PC games in the future.
FSR 2.0 quality modes and support

Read more
AMD FSR 2.0 takes notes from DLSS — and it’s coming soon
A comparison of AMD FSR in Deathloop.

AMD has lifted the curtain on the new version of FidelityFX Super Resolution (FSR), and this time around, it's looking to be a more direct competitor to Nvidia's DLSS. The aptly named FSR 2.0 promises higher image quality compared to the first version, and according to AMD, it can hold its own against native resolution.

AMD fans have eagerly waited for an upscaling solution to go toe-to-toe with Nvidia's Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS). For now, though, all we have are a few screenshots from AMD. You can see FSR 2.0 at work in Deathloop below.

Read more