Intel Releases XeSS 1.2 With Key Upgrades But What Happened To Going Open Source?

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All of the intelligent upsamplers that we have now—including NVIDIA's DLSS, AMD's FSR, and Intel's XeSS—are fundamentally algorithms at their core, and like any algorithm, they can be tuned and optimized. All three companies continue to do so, which is why game modders and enthusiasts frequently tell folks to update the DLLs for these techniques in released games, as patches from the developers rarely do so.

Intel just released version 1.2 of its XeSS SDK, and the big feature for this revision is support for dynamic resolution scaling. That means that, instead of simply setting a resolution preset and having XeSS upscale from that, games can dynamically scale the resolution based on load and XeSS will automatically upscale from whatever dynamic resolution the game chooses up to the final output resolution. DLSS and FSR already have this feature, but it's great for Intel to bring parity to its tech.

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We used XeSS instead of FSR on the ASUS ROG Ally in Ghostwire Tokyo because it looked better.

Besides dynamic resolution support, XeSS 1.2 also has some combination of "bug fixes, stability improvements, and performance optimizations." Exactly what, we don't know, because Intel's release notes literally say just that. We haven't encountered any notable bugs while using XeSS in our testing, but there are almost assuredly some that could use squishing.

One complaint about XeSS 1.2 is that, just like NVIDIA's DLSS, it is distributed as a Windows DLL binary. There's no source code available for the technique; it's a black box that no-one outside Intel has been able to peer into. Normally we wouldn't particularly care about this; most software developed by huge corporations is proprietary. However, Intel broadly proclaimed that XeSS would be "open-source and cross-platform" back in 2021.

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The proprietary nature of XeSS has caused some problems for Linux gamers. As Phoronix points out, Hogwarts Legacy works just fine under Valve's Steam Play using Intel's Linux drivers, but that wasn't the case until Intel's developers injected a hack that spoofs the GPU vendor ID specifically for that game because if the game tries to load the Windows-exclusive Intel XeSS DLL, it will crash.

Hopefully, Intel can get the source released sooner rather than later, if for no other reason than the company promised it would. For now, XeSS 1.2 is backward-compatible with the 1.1 and 1.0 releases, so it should be fairly-straightforward to update to the new version, although developers will likely have to implement dynamic resolution support on their end.