Intel has revamped (opens in new tab) how it will deliver graphics driver updates to modern and legacy processors. The chipmaker has decided to move its 6th to 10th Generation processors to a legacy support model.
Under the new model, Intel will only provide critical fixes and security vulnerabilities for processors from the Skylake to Comet Lake family. That means that the aforementioned processors will no longer receive Day 0 game support updates. The change applies to all the SKUs in the lineup, including Core, Atom, Celeron, and Xeon chips. Instead, Intel will deploy the software updates quarterly or when it needs to address critical issues or security vulnerabilities.
Intel's 11th Generation Rocket Lake and newer processors will be the only chips to continue to enjoy Day 0 game support. Intel expects to launch regular updates through a standard monthly cadence.
The Intel Graphics Driver will now pack two drivers in the same package. It'll contain driver files for Intel's 10th Generation processors and older and driver files for 11th Generation chips and newer. Installation remains the same: you download and run the executable. The executable automatically picks the adequate driver for your system, so you don't have to ponder which one to install.
It makes sense why Intel would drop support for Skylake since the 14nm chips came out seven years ago. It seems odd, however, that Intel would forsake Comet Lake too since the processors are relatively new and only debuted two years ago. Although Intel's integrated graphics solution has improved tremendously over the years, we don't expect anyone to use an Intel iGPU for serious gaming. According to the latest Steam Hardware Survey (opens in new tab), less than 2% of Steam users are gaming on Intel's UHD Graphics. Intel's new graphics driver model shouldn't affect most consumers since the chipmaker will continue to offer security updates. It's just that the old iGPUs won't have access to new games.
List of Affected Intel Processors
- 10th Generation Intel® Core® processors with Intel® Iris® Plus graphics (Codename Ice Lake)
- 10th Generation Intel® Core® processors with Intel® UHD Graphics (Codename Comet Lake)
- 9th Generation Intel® Core® processors, related Pentium®/Celeron® processors, and Intel® Xeon® processors, with Intel® UHD Graphics 630 (Codename Coffee Lake-R)
- 8th Generation Intel® Core® processors, related Pentium®/ Celeron® processors, and Intel® Xeon® processors, with Intel® Iris® Plus Graphics 655 and Intel® UHD Graphics 610, 620, 630, P630 (Codename Kaby Lake-R, Coffee Lake)
- Intel Pentium® and Celeron® processor family (Codename Gemini Lake)
- 7th Generation Intel® Core® processors, related Pentium®/Celeron® processors, and Intel® Xeon® processors, with Intel® Iris® Plus Graphics 640, 650 and Intel® HD Graphics 610, 615, 620, 630, P630 (Codename Kaby Lake)
- 6th Generation Intel® Core®, Intel® Core® M, and related Pentium® processors with Intel Iris® Graphics 540, Intel® Iris® Graphics 550, Intel® Iris® Pro Graphics 580, and Intel® HD Graphics 510, 515, 520, 530 (Codename Skylake)
- Intel® Pentium® Processor family and Intel® Celeron® Processor family (Codename Jasper Lake),
- Intel® Core® Processor with Intel® Hybrid Technology (Codename Lakefield)
- Intel® Atom®, Pentium® and Celeron® processor family (Codename Elkhart Lake)
Very nice, Intel... very nice.
Intel® Product Specification Comparison
Or more accurately, they just won't receive optimizations and fixes for new games on Intel's end, and won't get new driver-level features. Most new games that could otherwise run on these underpowered iGPUs should still work, they just might not run as well in some cases.
But you would think, at a time when Intel is moving into the dedicated graphics market and they are open with the fact that the drivers are not going to be optimal at launch, that they would try to project an image of them intending to support their hardware for many years. Ditching hardware a year after its successor launches is not exactly conducive of that message. I suppose they are likely focused on optimizing drivers for their new architecture now though, and want to put as many resources toward that as possible, since they will soon be getting directly compared against the more mature drivers from their competitors.
The thing is any game that's likely to benefit from this type of optimization, is unlikely to be playable on a half decade old iGPU design. Those games that are playable on something as anemic as the UHD 630, aren't likely to need these types of optimization to run well.
The number of people actually effected by this is a truly tiny.
I think the last time I tried to update an Intel iGPU driver, I got locked into an endless loop of Intel telling me their official drivers are unsigned and to get the updated drivers from Microsoft, Microsoft telling me to get the drivers from HP, and HP telling me to buy a new computer. This was for a laptop that was new, at the time.
If recent commits on the open source Intel driver are any indication, the main problem they have is that the driver team has no idea how to manage dedicated VRAM and never structured the driver for NUMA. So now they have to review it from the ground up and instead of doing it properly, they forked it and are mothballing the iGPU branch.