Intel has announced new drivers for its HD4000 embedded graphics processors, as found in its Ivy Bridge-based third-generation Core processor family, which will bring support for the OpenCL 1.2 general-purpose GPU (GPGPU) offload language and a claimed 10 per cent performance boost to boot.
Designed primarily for the new graphics processors that will form part of Intel's impending fourth-generation Core refresh, codenamed Haswell, the new drivers will support at least the existing third-generation Ivy Bridge processors' HD4000 graphics processor, as well as potentially extending down the range to earlier models. Those chips that are compatible will find there's significant benefit to installing the update: Intel claims that most users will find that performance is boosted by around 10 per cent compared to the current 14.51 driver tree.
Updating the drivers to version 15.31, the branch also bring support for OpenCL 1.2 - the latest release of the parallel processing standard from the Khronos Group, best known for its OpenGL and OpenGL ES graphics platforms. An upgrade to the existing OpenCL 1.1 specification, OpenCL 1.2 support has been a long time coming: the group originally released the updated specification back in November 2011, adding support for sharing media and surfaces with DirectX 9 and 11, enhanced image support, and various other enhancements to security and performance.
With developers increasingly turning to GPUs for the next big performance boost, both in gaming - where it is common to accelerate physics processing using spare shaders on the GPU - and in general-purpose computing, Intel's support of OpenCL 1.2 could hopefully help push even more power out of today's modern computing platforms. While it's true that gamers are unlikely to be using Intel's HD4000 graphics family for much, the promise of boosting general-purpose performance by using OpenCL - and other frameworks like DirectCompute - is welcome.
While Intel has confirmed that it will be launching the new driver later this month, it has yet to provide a firm release date. Those who want to ensure that they're running the latest driver version - and with the promise of a free 10 per cent performance boost, why would you want anything else - can use the driver update checker
to keep an eye out for the launch.