'Sandy Bridge' driver update boosts Windows game performance

Intel's graphics driver update accelerates game performance on Windows systems with Sandy Bridge processors and Intel's HD graphics.

Intel has released a graphics driver update for its Sandy Bridge processors that boosts performance up to 37 percent for games on Windows 7 and Vista.

While Sandy Bridge got a graphics driver update, its successor, Ivy Bridge, boasts even bigger improvements in the graphics department.
While Sandy Bridge got a graphics driver update, its successor, Ivy Bridge, boasts even bigger improvements in the graphics department. Intel

"This major graphics driver update for 2nd generation Intel Core processors with Intel HD graphics improves game performance by up to 37% on ULV platforms," Intel said in a statement.

ULV--or Ultra Low Voltage--processors are Intel's most power efficient and are typically used in thin and/or compact laptops such as Hewlett-Packard's updated Pavilion dm1 and Samsung Series 9.

ULV-based systems will see the biggest performance improvement, Intel said. "It is where some of the biggest gains are seen on the driver," Intel spokesman Dave Salvator said. But the driver update applies to all systems with Sandy Bridge processors sporting HD graphics.

Links to 32-bit and 64-bit drivers for Windows 7 and Vista are here. And note that Intel doesn't claim to have the fastest graphics chip on the block--that honor goes to Nvidia and Advanced Micro Devices. But its graphics silicon does play what Intel calls "mainstream games." A list of the supported games is here.

In related Intel graphics chip news, a slide (below) from last week's Intel Developer Forum indicates support for 4,096x4096 resolution on Intel's upcoming Ivy Bridge chip--due by the first quarter of next year. This is far beyond the resolution of today's 1080p standard. The slide includes a link to a YouTube clip entitled "4K Resolution Time Lapse Footage (timelapse) - American Cities," which demonstrates this capability.

Another slide in the same presentation stipulates that "you need ultra-high bandwidth Internet connection" to achieve this high-resolution video. The slide adds that an "MFX engine in Ivy Bridge can decode up to 4,096x4,096 resolution...Also has sufficient performance to playback multiple 4K videos."

And Ivy Bridge holds other related goodies. "Ivy Bridge will let people edit (decode, encode, transcode) 4K content into other formats," Intel's Salvator said.

Intel slide from IDF presentation entitled 'Media Innovations in the Intel Microarchitecture Codenamed Ivy Bridge.' It shows support for very-high-resolution video.
Intel slide from IDF presentation entitled "Media Innovations in the Intel Microarchitecture Codenamed Ivy Bridge." It shows support for very-high-resolution video. Intel

Ivy Bridge will also include support for Apple's OpenCL and Microsoft's DirectX 11 graphics acceleration technologies. As well as support for USB 3.0.

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