Intel Introduces XeSS Technology at GDC 2022

Although the Alchemist (DG2) graphics card of the Intel Arc brand has not yet been released, Intel used the recent GDC 2022 to introduce its own graphics technology solutions. In the “Intel Xe Super Sampling (XeSS)—an AI-based Upscaling for Real-Time Rendering” speech, Intel describes how to use XeSS and the hardware and software technologies behind it, compares it with commonly used upgrade techniques, and explains how to bring higher performance without compromising quality.

Intel’s XeSS, as an AI-driven super-sampling, is accelerated by XMX AI in the Xe-HPG architecture Xe Core, using ML to reconstruct low-resolution frames into high-resolution frames, increasing the number of running frames. XeSS is fully DirectX 12 compatible and, thanks to DP4a instructions, provides AI-based supersampling on a variety of hardware including integrated graphics.

Intel says rendering scenes with XeSS with XMX requires less than half the performance compared to native 4K resolutions. Being DP4a compliant means it can run on GPUs without XMX type AI or ML hardware acceleration engines, providing similar performance and image quality. Compared to temporal or spatial scaling, XeSS can achieve higher scaling without compromising quality. XeSS also has a sharpening engine built in to replace TAA antialiasing.

XeSS will have five preset modes, namely Ultra Quality, Quality, Balanced, Performance, and Ultra Performance. Intel used an Alchemist graphics card and enabled ray tracing at 2K and 4K resolutions, showing the performance improvement in different modes, such as the performance in Ultra Quality mode is 1.21 to 1.27 times the original, and Ultra Performance mode performance is 1.97 to 2.53 times the original.

Intel did not provide a specific release date for XeSS, nor a list of supported games. Intel will hold an event called “A New Stage of the Game” at 8:00 am Pacific Time on March 30, 2022, to release the first Alchemist graphics card, and I believe more information will be released soon.