Intel Lays Groundwork For Arctic Sound Discrete Graphics With New Driver Release

Intel

Exciting things are taking place at Intel in the graphics space. It was revealed earlier this year that Intel had started working on a discrete GPU, reportedly called Arctic Sound, and rumor has it this will be a gaming GPU. There is plenty of evidence to suggest that is the case, the latest of which is a timely integrated graphics driver release coinciding with the April 2018 Update for Windows 10.

On the surface, that might not seem like a big deal—AMD and NVIDIA release timely driver updates all the time for new games that come out and major Windows 10 updates alike. But that is also the point. Intel has not done the same thing, at least to the extent that AMD and NVIDIA traditionally have, so releasing an Intel HD Graphics driver update for, and on, the same day the April 2018 Update arrived is a big deal.
It's more than that, though. Lisa Pearce, Intel's vice president of its platform engineering group, made a point to announce the driver release on Twitter. This is a telling sign in and of itself, though she also mentions that it includes a bunch of game fixes, including for Hearthstone: The Witchwood.

From our vantage point, it looks like Intel is laying the groundwork for Arctic Sound's eventual arrival. If Intel is truly going to target gamers, it will need to ensure timely and consistent driver updates, and also promote its efforts on social media in order to capture mind share from an audience that, at present, is firmly entrenched in AMD's and Nvidia's camps, really the only two options for serious gaming.

We should also note that releasing a GPU driver update on the same day that a major Windows upgrade arrives is new for Intel. Usually it takes several weeks for Intel to do so, and in some cases it has even taken a couple of months. Granted, a launch-day Intel HD Graphics driver is hardly a game changer, but it's good practice for when Arctic Sound arrives. Put the habits in place now, and when Arctic Sound launches, hit the ground running.

It's also another piece of evidence that Intel is likely to go after gamers with its discrete GPU efforts, and not just the machine learning crowd. In the absence of official confirmation, Intel has been assembling a team of engineers and marketing personnel with experience in that very category, including Raja Koduri and Chris Hook, both of which worked for AMD when it launched Vega. Throw timely (and socially promoted) GPU driver releases into the mix, and it seems pretty obvious to us the direction Intel is headed.

Thumbnail/Top Image Source: Walden Kirsch/Intel

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