Intel sheds more light on XeSS upscaler at GDC

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Something to look forward to: Just days away from launching its first dedicated graphics cards, Intel released a presentation at GDC 2022 on the ins and outs of its upscaling technology. The slideshow provides an in-depth understanding of XeSS and what to expect in terms of performance improvement.

This week, Intel released a detailed look at XeSS, the company’s competitor to Nvidia DLSS and AMD FSR image upscalers. Much of the keynote takes a closer look at what Intel had previously revealed, but it does include some new details.

Intel has revealed that XeSS would have five scaling modes that offer a range of trade-offs between frame rate and image quality — more than its competitors. For example, quality mode scales an image by 50 percent.

Intel claims that upscaling an image from 1440p to 4K improves performance by 53 percent compared to native 4K. However, the quality of the upscaled image compared to the original resolution remains to be seen.

Intel says XeSS will have an Ultra Quality mode that will only be scaled by 1.3 for better image quality, while DLSS and FSR will both have a Quality mode as the highest preset, which will be scaled up by 50 percent. That said, Redditors found evidence of an upcoming Ultra Quality mode for DLSS last summer.

All three technologies try to improve game frame rates by scaling from lower to higher resolutions, but each uses slightly different methods. Interestingly, DLSS has achieved impressive results through machine learning, which requires hardware exclusive to Nvidia’s current graphics cards.

Team Red also recently unveiled FSR 2.0, which uses temporary upscaling, allowing it to work on AMD, Nvidia, and Xbox console GPUs. Intel XeSS also uses a temporal method and AI accelerators. It works best on the XMX cores used by Intel’s GPUs, but should work almost as well on AMD or Nvidia hardware via DP4a instructions.

One challenge Intel says it is trying to address is ghosting — something DLSS and FSR have dealt with — which causes brief afterimages to appear when objects are in motion. Intel has also integrated XeSS into Unreal Engine 4 and 5, where the feature is currently in closed beta.

The first Intel GPUs will be launched on March 30 for laptops.

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