Intel is starting to ramp up production of discrete graphics solutions for laptop and desktop computers in an effort to compete with AMD and NVIDIA in the GPU space. And part of staying competitive means pushing regular graphics driver updates with bug fixes, performance enhancements, and sometimes “Day 0” updates designed to support specific games the same day those titles hit the streets.
Those driver updates can also improve performance on computers with 11th-gen and 12th-gen Intel Core processors that feature integrated graphics, since those GPUs are based on the same Intel Iris Xe architecture as Intel’s Arc-branded discrete GPUs. But now that Intel is focusing on Iris Xe, the company seems to have decided not to expend much effort at all on older integrated GPUs.
This week Intel announced that it’s moving graphics drivers for 6th through 10th-gen Intel Core processors as well as some low-power Atom, Celeron, and Pentium chips to a “legacy software support model.” The change takes effect starting with the Windows DCH drivers for Intel Graphics released on July 27, 2022.
In a nutshell that updates will roll out quarterly instead of monthly, and Intel will prioritize “critical fixes and security vulnerabilities only.” Intel will not be offering Day 0 game support or any significant performance enhancements for older chips… or some current-gen ones, for that matter.
Not only does the new policy affect Intel Ice Lake and Comet Lake chips released just two years ago, but it also covers Intel’s current-gen Elkhart Lake and Jasper Lake low-power processors designed for low-cost, thin, light, and sometimes fanless laptops, tablets, and mini PCs.
To be fair, it’s not like most of Intel’s older chips were known for stellar integrated graphics performance. But some chips which featured Intel’s Iris Plus graphics were at least within striking distance of entry-level NVIDIA GeForce MX series discrete GPUs when it comes to lightweight gaming and other tasks that can leverage hardware-accelerated graphics. I remember being pleasantly surprised by Intel’s Iris Plus 655 integrated GPU when I reviewed the Intel Bean Canyon NUC with an Intel Core i7-8559U processor in 2018, for example.
Now it looks like that particular GPU will probably never perform any better than it does today.