Lack Of Innovation In PC Graphics Hardware? Blame Intel, Says Epic’s Mark Rein

These days, only a few triple-A games really stress out modern 3D hardware. With the plethora of less-demanding indie titles making up a fair chunk of the average gamer’s library, grabbing a new video card isn’t the regular ritual it once was. But is there something else to blame for the slowed pace of GPU innovation? Epic head honcho Mark Rein thinks so.

Recently on Twitter, Rein posted the following messages:

Sadly, Rein doesn’t provide a timeframe as to when these continual attempts at convincing Intel took place, but Epic has been closely involved in the evolution of graphics hardware for a while now, thanks to its popular Unreal Engine middleware. So you’d expect Rein knows what he’s talking about.

That said, it may have been the case in the past that Intel hasn’t made much of an effort to push its GPU technology as far as the likes of NVIDIA and AMD. But why would it? As Rein mentions, the company dominates installations, thanks to integration and for desktop activities, browsers and video playback, Intel’s hardware is more than adequate for a majority of users.

The other thing to keep in mind is that Intel’s priority with its GPUs has never been performance, but power consumption and heat. Being the choice of hardware by almost all notebook manufacturers is not a mantle to be treated lightly. While NVIDIA/AMD can be less stringent with these requirements — its hardware is completely optional — for Intel, efficiency has to be at the top of the list. True, there’s definitely a balance in there, but I can totally understand why “good enough” would satisfy Intel and… its paying integrators.

On top of this, Intel did try to advance its GPUs with the ill-fated Larrabee and the acquisition of (at the time, visually impressive) Project Offset. The endeavour backfired on Intel and it didn’t talk about its graphics for a long time.

That’s until Haswell and its “GTe” hardware (now known as “Iris”), which has shown itself to be a very capable GPU for its intended market — notebooks and tablets.

These days, Intel’s actually doing quite a bit in the 3D space, from doubling and tripling the performance of its integrated GPUs, to tabling new extensions, such as PixelSync and InstantAccess, to the Direct3D API to improve visuals and performance.

So, Intel may not be on the forefront of GPU technology, but it has most definitely picked up the slack in the last couple of years. Whether this is through choice, or it’s been forced thanks to the gradual offloading of common graphics (and some non-graphics) tasks from the CPU by modern operating systems, it’s hard to say. But I look forward to seeing where Intel takes the industry, now that it’s thrown some of its substantial weight behind the task.

@MarkRein [Twitter, via DSO Gaming]

Graph via Anandtech / Intel

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