Intel has launched new drivers for its G965 integrated graphics chipset. But what does this mean?Traditionally, integrated graphics have been the weaklings of the graphics world – sure there are a lot of them sold, but traditionally they have been practically useless for 3D gaming. Until now that is – G965 has grown some muscle… See the video below. Intel has never marketed integrated graphics to gamers who demand great 3D performance (that is what PCI-Express is for) – but we have said that it is suitable for casual gaming. The graphics core in Intel’s G965 is actually very advanced – based on 8 programmable micro-execution engines. You can program these execution engines to do whatever you like, including pixel and vertex shading. Now, we come to the main issue – until very recently, Intel’s G965 software drivers did not support hardware vertex shading, but rather let the CPU do the work instead (we have very powerful CPU’s so this translates into fabulous 3DMark scores, and great performance on some games). But quite a few of the latest and most popular games require hardware vertex shaders and so this approach had an Achilles Heel. Some in the press has bemoaned the lack of this functionality – some others ignored the fact that most people use integrated graphics for business use and or video – areas where the chip shines: Full WHQL support existed for Vista’s Aeroglass from the word go, and Intel’s little wonder boasts the type of video quality you should expect from advanced discrete cards with scores around 95 in the HQV benchmark. All this from a part that effectively costs you less that lunch at the company canteen. (The price difference between the G965 and P965 chipsets is tiny, about the cost of a visit to Starbucks, the cost in power use is also small). But the release of the latest Windows XP drivers changes things quite considerably by introducing support for hardware vertex shading. So if you want better performance for free just +XP+Professional&lang=eng&strOSs=44&submit=Go%21″>here. The driver will also support the mobile chipset and upcoming Intel G35 chipset. I visited Intel’s graphics labs where Mike Abel showed me some demos – see the video: More good news is that the driver boys have implemented a cool new switching technology that automatically switches between hardware and software vertex shading depending on the application to give you the benefit of optimum performance. Nifty eh? PS: The equivalent Vista drivers will be out soon. PPS: If the video above doesn’t work in your browser – there is a youtube version, just click here.
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