Intel is slowly moving into the dedicated graphics market, and its graphics driver versions look more like Nvidia and AMD than they did before. For its custom Arc GPUs and architecturally similar integrated GPUs that ship with 11th and 12th generation Intel processors, the company is promising monthly driver releases, along with “Day 0” drivers with specific fixes and performance improvements for games that have been released. just released.
At the same time, Intel’s GPU driver updates began to reduce focus on what was once the company’s bread and butter: low-quality integrated GPUs. The company announced yesterday that it will move most of its integrated GPUs to a “legacy support model,” which will provide quarterly updates to fix “critical” security issues and bugs but won’t include game-specific fixes like newer GPUs. Getting.
The change affects a wide variety of GPUs, which are not all ancient history. Among other things, the change affects all built-in GPUs in the following generations of processors, from lower, unnumbered “HD / UHD graphics” to faster Intel Iris-branded versions:
- 6th generation Core (introduced 2015, codenamed Skylake)
- 7th generation Core (introduced 2016, codenamed Kaby Lake)
- 8th generation Core (introduced in 2017-2018, codenamed Kaby Lake-R, Whiskey Lake, and Coffee Lake)
- 9th generation Core (introduced 2018, codenamed Coffee Lake)
- 10th Generation Core (introduced in 2019-2020, codenamed Comet Lake and Ice Lake)
- Several Celeron and Pentium-series N4000, N5000, and N6000 CPUs (introduced 2017-2021, codenamed Gemini Lake, Elkhart Lake, and Jasper Lake)
Intel still offers a single 1.1GB boot package that supports everything from the latest Iris Xe GPUs to integrated graphics of the Skylake era. However, the installation package now contains one driver for newer GPUs still getting new features and a second driver for older GPUs on the old support model. The company uses a similar approach to driver updates for its Wi-Fi adapters, including multiple driver versions in the same download package to support multiple generations of devices.
Intel’s 10th generation processors and accompanying integrated GPUs are only 3 years old, and Jasper Lake Pentium and Celeron processors are actually Intel’s latest offerings for low-cost PCs. The problem is that their GPUs (based on the architecture called “Gen9”) are much older, dating back to the 6th generation Skylake chips in late 2015. Intel used Kaby Lake-era UHD 620 and UHD 630 GPUs in their Four different generations of processors, opting to increase the number of CPU cores in newer chips rather than allocating more chip space for a redesigned GPU.
Intel shipped a newer, faster GPU in its 10nm Ice Lake processors, which shared the 10th generation branding with 14nm Comet Lake CPUs. Ice Lake GPUs are ported to the legacy support model as well. But these were mostly used in light and thin portable devices like the Intel MacBook Air 2020 and Surface Pro 7 — not systems that are required to do a lot of gaming.
The result is that those GPU drivers are as fast and optimized as you’ll get, and the hardware isn’t powerful enough to run many of the newer games that Intel provides fixes in the new GPU drivers anyway. In practice, the loss of a steady stream of new game-focused driver updates is unlikely to affect users of these GPUs much, especially since Intel will Continue to fix problems as they occur.
AMD and Nvidia offer similar legacy driver packages for older GPUs that won’t take advantage of new improvements but sometimes need security or stability fixes.