During GDC 2013, Intel said that the next major driver update for its HD Graphics 4000 GPU will be released this week. This will be the seventh major driver release since Intel launched its second-generation Sandy Bridge Core processors, and will not only improve performance by up to 10-percent, but reduce the GPU's overall power consumption.
During a media event, Intel said this new driver update, v15.31, was developed for its next-generation Haswell processors. However the company is releasing the update anyway for the Ivy Bridge crowd which will improve performance, reduce power consumption, and support the new OpenCL 1.2 standard. Owners of rigs with the 4000 GPU should use the automatic driver update tool next week to see when the new drivers are available.
Intel said it's also releasing a new driver for its HD Graphics 3000 GPU, but it's currently unclear if the driver will feature the same performance boost and power savings. This GPU itself doesn't support OpenCL, the open standard for parallel programming across CPUs, GPUs and whatnot, so the latest standard is definitely out the window.
In addition to the new drivers, Intel introduced a number of goodies this week during GDC 2013. One is called PixelSync, a DirectX extension that provides access to underlying hardware that allows programmers to "properly composite partially transparent pixels without the need for an expensive sorting operation". This helps render more realistic smoke, hair, windows, foliage, fences and other complex geometry and natural phenomena.
Another new extension is called InstantAccess which allows physical memory to be written and read from either the CPU or from the built-in Intel HD Graphics.
"These real-time rendering extensions are being released in advance of the launch of Intel's newest generation of Core processors in order to give developers extra time to begin incorporating them into their products," Intel said. "Initially, these extensions are available through Intel's implementation of DirectX and on Intel 4th gen Core platforms only."
During the conference, Intel also demonstrated a version of HandBreak optimized for Intel Quick Sync Video which is dedicated hardware built into the latest Intel Core processors. The company also revealed an updated version of its graphic and game development tools, Intel Graphics Performance Analyzers (Intel GPA 2013 R1), and launched the 2013 edition of its Perceptual Computing Software Development Kit (SDK).