Intel Details How XeSS Balances Resolution And Frame Rates In This Deep Dive Video
One of the key features of NVIDIA's RTX graphics cards is DLSS. Standing for Deep Learning Super Sampling, the technology uses AI to intelligently upscale real-time graphics with superior quality compared to traditional methods. Well, Intel would like you to know that it has its own solution that it believes is equivalent if not superior, and it's known as XeSS.
The blue team just put up a video on its Intel Graphics YouTube channel titled "Intel XeSS Technology Deep Dive." In the video, Ryan Shrout and Tom Petersen walk the viewer through an explanation of what XeSS is, how it works, and how it benefits gamers and developers alike.
Most of the presentation will be familiar to those who are familiar with DLSS, or AMD's similar FSR 2.0. Essentially, Intel has a pre-trained AI model that functions as a black box upscaler for real-time video game graphics. You run your game at a reduced resolution (compared to the output resolution), send the rendered frames off to the XeSS model, and then XeSS upscales the game's graphics to your desired output resolution before post-processing is applied.
As part of the presentation, Intel showed some benchmarks with and without XeSS across a range of nine games in QHD resolution, all at max settings. The list of games included four titles with ray-tracing, and the gains from enabling XeSS are impressive to be sure. Intel points out that the games which struggle the most in traditional rendering get the greatest gains from enabling XeSS. That's true, but also rather obvious; when you ease up a bottleneck, the whole system performs better.
Naturally, just like with NVIDIA's DLSS and AMD's FSR, XeSS includes a variety of presets which determine the resolution of the input frames. Intel didn't elucidate what ratios each preset corresponds with, but it's likely that they are the same or similar to the resolution scalars offered by the competing solutions.
The YouTube video compression unfortunately makes the Tomb Raider comparison above virtually useless, but Intel is partnering with UL to add a specialized XeSS Feature Test to 3DMark. This is essentially like the DLSS feature test that is already present in the application, in that it runs a custom path through the Port Royal ray-tracing benchmark twice—once with XeSS off, and once with it on. After doing so, it shows how much performance you gained using XeSS.
Perhaps more interesting, the 3DMark test will also include an image quality comparison tool for XeSS. The tool will render out ten frames with and without XeSS, and then allow you to compare them side-by-side. Tom Petersen was quite enthusiastic when stating that he believes the XeSS render actually looks significantly better than the native resolution render. People have said similar things about DLSS, but we'll have to compare for ourselves to see.
One advantage that XeSS has over DLSS is that, while it will perform best on Arc graphics cards (thanks to a specialized path that makes use of their XMX matrix math hardware), it has a DP4a fallback path that works on Intel's integrated graphics as well as solutions from other vendors. That means XeSS can be used on AMD and NVIDIA graphics cards as long as they support the DP4a format, which means basically any recent Radeon or GeForce card. It will be interesting to see if XeSS is worth using on competitors' products when no other option is available.
Speaking of availability, Tom and Ryan listed some twenty games that will have XeSS support on or shortly after the launch of the high-end Arc Alchemist cards. While some of the titles were pretty obscure even to your author (who is a seasoned gamer), there are some big names here, like Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Hitman III, and the aforementioned Death Stranding.
That'll be on or before October 28th, because the big announcement of the stream was that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II's PC release will include XeSS when it launches. Intel also talked about a dinosaur game called Instinction coming in 2025 as an example of Intel's long-term dedication to Arc and its technologies.
Despite numerous side-by-side comparisons, ultimately a YouTube video simply isn't high-enough quality for us to make any real judgements about XeSS. However, you can expect that we'll be taking a close look at Intel's super-sampling solution when we do our final review of Arc.
Watch the video for yourself above and let us know your thoughts in the comments below.