Intel Arc drivers go on a diet

Intel’s Latest GPU Drivers Are Half the Size They Used to Be

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Drivers are an integral part of the best graphics cards — without them, you only get baseline functionality, with no fancy 3D graphics, video encoding or decoding, upscaling, or all the other things we’ve come to expect. We compared driver download sizes for the latest GPUs in late January and found that Intel was strangely bloated. We must have caught someone’s attention, as the latest 4255 drivers (opens in new tab), which are also WHQL certified, are about half the size of January’s 4090 beta drivers.

We mused at the time that maybe Intel was including some unneeded cruft, or maybe it just wasn’t compressing things as much as it could. Whatever the case, there’s been remarkable progress in just two months. I’ve got a collection of just about every Intel Arc driver release since launch. Here are the exact sizes of the downloads (which doesn’t necessarily equate to uncompressed install size, but it’s far easier to check), release dates, and other details.

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Intel Arc Drivers Since Public Availability
Version Size Release Date Notes
3259 844 MB 8/4/2022 First widely available A380 drivers
3268 846 MB 8/22/2022 A380 Spider-Man beta drivers
3490 1,365 MB 10/11/2022 Arc A770/A750 launch drivers
3491 1,365 MB 10/17/2022 Beta Game On driver for four new games
3793 1,197 MB 10/27/2022 Beta Game On driver for three new games
3802 1,197 MB 11/18/2022 Game On driver for four new games, performance optimizations for eight other games
3959 1,210 MB 12/8/2022 Game On driver for five new games, massive DX9 overhaul
3975 1,211 MB 12/13/2022 Beta Game On driver for three new games, DirectStorage support
4032 1,214 MB 1/3/2023 Launch driver for Raptor Lake-S (UHD Graphics 730)
4090 1,237 MB 1/24/2023 Beta Game On driver for two new games
4091 1,175 MB 2/1/2023 Launch driver for Raptor Lake-P mobile CPUs, desktop Arc Control mode introduced
4123 1,175 MB 2/7/2023 Beta Game On driver for two new games
4125 1,175 MB 2/16/2023 Beta Game On driver for five new games
4146 1,074 MB 3/15/2023 Game On for two new games, Raptor Lake-U launch driver
4148 888 MB 3/16/2023 Beta Game On driver for two new games
4255 604 MB 3/23/2023 Game On for RE4 Remake, performance optimizations and major size reduction

There are a few things worth pointing out, like the jump in size when Intel went from just supporting the A380 (and various existing integrated graphics solutions) to the official Arc launch drivers. Why the extra 500+ MB? We’re not sure, but there were a lot of bug fixes and other factors that likely played a role. Later in October, the size dropped by about 170 MB.

From then until February, the size of Intel’s Arc drivers remained pretty consistent at around 1.2 GB. Note that late January was when we wrote the piece about how bloated Intel’s drivers seemed to be compared to AMD and Nvidia. By March, the first driver release that month had lopped off about 100MB in size for the Raptor Lake-U laptop launch.

The next day, a different driver came out, reducing the size by 186MB, but that was only the beginning. The current 4255 drivers that came out last night dropped another 284MB in girth. The running total of weight loss since October is at 761MB, making Arc a serious contender for the Biggest Loser: they’re 44% of the drivers they once were! While we’re not entirely sure about all of the details, Intel’s driver blog states (opens in new tab) has this to say:

“Good things come in small packages — the Intel Arc graphics driver package, specifically. This latest driver release punches above its weight, now down to 604 megabytes from nearly double that when the Intel Arc desktop GPUs launch in October. Our engineers put the old 1.3GB driver download on a diet with smarter compression algorithms. This means faster updates so you can Game On even sooner with less bandwidth consumed, all with zero compromises in performance or features made.”

I’m skeptical that the only real change was in compression algorithms. Were there a bunch of TIF or BMP files that got converted to PNG? Because you usually don’t get a 56% reduction in archive size for any moderately compressed starting point. Regardless, smaller downloads are a good thing for anyone with a data cap. Says the guy who downloaded over 300GB of Large Language Models while poking around at chatbots last week.

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