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ICYMI, Intel Improved DirectX 9 API Performance for Arc "Alchemist" GPUs Spanning Several Popular Game Titles

btarunr

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Intel Arc "Alchemist" graphics architecture was originally developed as a forward-facing PC GPU architecture with many of the contemporary graphics technologies, including full DirectX 12 Ultimate support, however, the GPU curiously lacks hardware support for DirectX 9. Released 20 years ago, DirectX 9 continued to power AAA PC titles well into the 2010s as game console development lagged (the era of Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3), and most e-sports titles of the time included either native or fallback DirectX 9 support for those on older GPUs. This is a problem for Intel, as many of the currently-popular e-Sports titles may still use DirectX 9, and so the Intel Graphics team set out to individually optimize DirectX 9 titles with each new Arc GPU driver release.

While Arc GPUs lack DirectX 9 support, foolproof API translation technologies exist, which convert DirectX 9 API instructions into DirectX 12. This is not fundamentally unlike how 32-bit applications work on 64-bit Windows (using WOW64 machine-architecture translation). This, however, requires per-game optimization to ensure any engine-level special features are correctly translated. With the latest 101.3959 Beta drivers, Intel optimized popular DirectX 9 titles "League of Legends," "Counter Strike: Global Offensive," "Starcraft 2," "Payday 2," "Guild Wars 2," "Stellaris," "NiZhan," and "Moonlight Blade." The company seems to be going about this the smart way, by relying on market analysis for selecting the games in need of optimization (understanding what DirectX 9 games are still being played).



"We use a hybrid approach, i.e., a combination of API techniques, to take advantage of translation layers when a better experience can be delivered using one of our more modern API implementations. These improvements will be delivered transparently to the end user through our normal driver distribution process. The details of this implementation may change over time as our DX9 driver evolves," said Ryan Shrout, the technical marketing head at Intel. The company even provided a selections of benchmarks to show how its optimization efforts translate into much better real-world performance, than simply applying DirectX 9 to 12 API translation (without game-specific optimization). The company will continue to add more titles to this list with future releases of its Arc GPU drivers. Below is a video presentation detailing these optimization efforts.


View at TechPowerUp Main Site | Source
 
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While I really don't like Intel it's mainly their anti-capitalist "leadership" that is their problem. I'm glad to see the engineers making progress. I don't do low-end, I can't though I hope that AMD will pay better attention to the mid-to-low end range as well; Intel looks like they're giving them justification to do so.
 
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Taking the gaming approach, release now fix later. This is out of control because we allow it, people should stop enabling this behaviour.
 
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While I really don't like Intel it's mainly their anti-capitalist "leadership" that is their problem. I'm glad to see the engineers making progress. I don't do low-end, I can't though I hope that AMD will pay better attention to the mid-to-low end range as well; Intel looks like they're giving them justification to do so.
I wouldn't call it "progress", more a slight de-crippling of a crippled-by-design product. Speaking as someone who plays a lot of older games, having to optimise each game individually in the driver to compensate for lacking proper hardware support (that the competition still have) seems a massive waste of the driver team's time. So they fix CSGO's abysmal performance by hand tweaking it and a dozen other popular titles, but then what about the other several thousand DX9 games?...
 

tommesfps

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Woah, this is quite a challenge tho, since when is "Intel" making discrete graphics cards? BRB. checking.....
 
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While I really don't like Intel it's mainly their anti-capitalist "leadership" that is their problem. I'm glad to see the engineers making progress. I don't do low-end, I can't though I hope that AMD will pay better attention to the mid-to-low end range as well; Intel looks like they're giving them justification to do so.
LMFAO

In what fucking universe do you think Intel - one of the most rotten, exploitative and corrupt companies around is run by anti-capitalists?
 
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uftfa

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Good job, Intel. While then internet is filled with angry and emotional childen who just want to see Intel fail, I'm just glad they're continuing to toil away at the drivers. The GPU pricing from nvidia and also AMD to a lesser extent have gone completely haywire. Solid competition is very welcome.
 
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Taking the gaming approach, release now fix later. This is out of control because we allow it, people should stop enabling this behaviour.
They wont though, millions continue to pre order digital releases of broken games for often enough over $100 per title. Gamers have to CONSOOOM no matter the cost.
 
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Over engineered drivers.
 
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While I really don't like Intel it's mainly their anti-capitalist "leadership" that is their problem. I'm glad to see the engineers making progress. I don't do low-end, I can't though I hope that AMD will pay better attention to the mid-to-low end range as well; Intel looks like they're giving them justification to do so.
That's the most capitalist thing ever.
What you mean is market economy where "the government" intervenes to stop the likes of Intel (everyone really) from achieving a monopoly or a building a cartel.
Intel has been making GPUs and GPU drivers forever now, they just messed up as usual, usually they just bribery, or sue their competitors to ensure their dominant position. Intel big as it is should've crushed both nVidia and AMD in both GPU and CPU, they get no sympathy from me.
AMD and nVidia are just as bad, they both fucked us and will continue to do so.
 
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Do intel think people dont play older games? They made a GPU that doesnt accelerate over 90% of games on the market.
 

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Do intel think people dont play older games? They made a GPU that doesnt accelerate over 90% of games on the market.


This is the stance most people are taking but it’s the wrong one. Optimized doesn’t mean it didn’t work before.

Optimizing CS:GO so it will get the same 300 fps so you can try to brag to people on forums about how much it matters is what that games user base and market expect.

Now if you want to play neverwinter nights 1 are people going to bitch? No it works and plays just fine graphics hardware has come so far that even translation runs it fast enough.
 
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Anyone own one of these? How are the drivers coming along??
 

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Anyone own one of these? How are the drivers coming along??

Great, they improved the crashes and weird shit a ton as well. I still absolutely hate the control panel though.
 
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Nice to see they are making progress, maybe their next hardware release isn't a train wreck like this one was! Hopefully they continue to try and compete and didn't just assume they'd turn a profit out of the gate. That's pie in the sky unless it destroyed the competition in every possible way.
 
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This is the stance most people are taking but it’s the wrong one.
I disagree. Both AMD & nVidia natively support DirectX9 as did older HD530/630 iGPU's on Skylake, Kaby Lake, Coffee Lake, etc, so Intel Arc is the odd man out for not doing so. The "savings" from them not natively supporting widely played games are virtually non existent both die space and monetary savings (like not needing to code support for each individual game on a driver level). Nor is it just about performance. In my experience translating API's often causes more glitches (texture flickering, even missing / transparent textures) than native hardware support which has always been more reliable. In this case Intel scrapped it for no real gain at all whilst AMD & nVidia haven't because well, there's no real gain. As someone who plays a lot of old games, I can either gamble that a D3D9to12 API wrapper 'might' not cause issues in hundreds of owned old-school games I own (and DX9 stretches all the way to 2012 titles like Dishonored) or continue to buy nVidia / AMD knowing for sure it doesn't (because no translation is needed in the first place, doubly so if a double-translation is needed, eg, DX6-8 to DX9 then DX9 to DX12...)
 
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ARK Alchemist as fine wine.
That`s a good one.
It really is.
 

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As someone who plays a lot of old games,

I guess it will hurt when it goes the way of everything past dx9 then huh? It’s windows XP all over again for people that think it’s important. My games work fine I actually own these cards. Guess I just disagree.
 
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I guess it will hurt when it goes the way of everything past dx9 then huh? It’s windows XP all over again for people that think it’s important. My games work fine I actually own these cards. Guess I just disagree.
Literally no-one is doing that except Intel though. Even the new RTX 4090 continues to support it, as will RDNA3, as do Microsoft still support it on W10-11 (the only thing they've officially deprecated is DirectDraw and even that can still be installed & used (Programs & Features -> Turn Windows Features On / Off -> Legacy Components)). At the end of the day I'll simply buy what's more compatible and if Intel Arc supports only half a standard it won't be that.
 
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v12dock

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Par for the course my computer crashed installing this driver. I did a forced reboot and then the overlay UI wouldn't close and I was forced to kill it in command prompt.
 

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Par for the course my computer crashed installing this driver. I did a forced reboot and then the overlay UI wouldn't close and I was forced to kill it in command prompt.

the CP is literally the worst thing I have ever seen, I hate it lol.
 
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But will these optimizations come to the more niche titles?

One of my favorite DX9 games is Dragon's Dogma. It's definitely a bit of an underrated gem that didn't get too much attention on release, from what I know.

I already use DXVK to run it better on my laptop (Xe 80EU), which actually works very well. In fact, DXVK seems to work better than whatever Intel's official solution is.
 
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Keep it up Intel, would be nice to have Battlemage be a serious contender
 
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lacking proper hardware support (that the competition still have)
I disagree. Both AMD & nVidia natively support DirectX9 as did older HD530/630 iGPU's on Skylake, Kaby Lake, Coffee Lake, etc, so Intel Arc is the odd man out for not doing so. The "savings" from them not natively supporting widely played games are virtually non existent both die space and monetary savings (like not needing to code support for each individual game on a driver level).

What hw support? That shtick came from MooreLawIsDead/wccftech, I'm not really into the hole architecture and instruction sets of GPUs but I'm pretty sure fixed hw blocks have nothing to do with DirectX9 implementation. Their drivers suck and don't have years of experience implementing high performance Dx9 acceleration so they went the "throw the bucket at microsoft" route with translation - this and it's dis/advantages were already discussed pretty much ad nauseum.

At least the drivers are getting better, that's what matters imo.

Nor is it just about performance. In my experience translating API's often causes more glitches (texture flickering, even missing / transparent textures) than native hardware support which has always been more reliable. In this case Intel scrapped it for no real gain at all whilst AMD & nVidia haven't because well, there's no real gain. As someone who plays a lot of old games, I can either gamble that a D3D9to12 API wrapper 'might' not cause issues in hundreds of owned old-school games I own (and DX9 stretches all the way to 2012 titles like Dishonored) or continue to buy nVidia / AMD knowing for sure it doesn't (because no translation is needed in the first place, doubly so if a double-translation is needed, eg, DX6-8 to DX9 then DX9 to DX12...)

That's very true and all great points. Modern graphics can also introduce glitchs for example by running way too fast but those kinds of things are usually not hard to solve. And not having Dx9 support has some advantages like reducing the bloat and overhead the drivers have to deal with - though having things work is better of course.

About the double translation from Dx6-8 to Dx9 I don't think that's a thing, the api has some kind of backwards compatibility or something, but if you're going that far back, you're algo going to run into any sort of other issues anyway.


EDIT: Oh scratch that, just watched the video and their explanation reeks of cherry picked games with proper implementation and everything else translated. It's a nice effort, but a shamefull way to do buziness and if the long term has little chance of catching up to the thousands of different existing games without becoming a giant rock to bury their drivers under.
 
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