Briefly: Graphics drivers from Nvidia and AMD should support nearly two decades old software and hardware, so it’s understandable if they’re somewhat bloated. However, Intel has the largest driver download despite being the newest driver in dedicated GPUs.
Intel’s entry into the dedicated graphics arena reveals some surprising observations regarding the size of GPU drivers. Compared to its competitors, Intel’s software is overweight.
GeForce graphics driver 528.02 From Nvidia, released on January 5th, it’s 788MB. Even smaller is AMD’s Adrenalin 22.11.2 from December 8 at 546MB and version 23.1.1 As of January 11th (for Radeon RX 7000 series), it’s 590MB. Surprisingly, the Intel Arc Graphics driver version 220.127.116.1134, released on January 13, is a 1.2GB download. In addition, the range of hardware and software supported by each driver version does not add up to their comparative sizes.
It’s not unexpected that Nvidia’s drivers are much larger than AMD’s, as the green team bundles GeForce Experience into every download. It contains useful features such as a broadcast function, the company’s Ansel screenshot tool, and additional ways to improve gameplay performance. However, users often bemoan the need to log into an account to update drivers.
The larger size of AMD’s Radeon 7000 drivers compared to its drivers for all previously supported GPUs is in itself intriguing. TechSpot’s download page names 23.1.1 as a hotfix, so it may not be the most effective package.
The difference with Intel drivers is a mystery for several reasons. Arc Alchemist is Intel’s first generation of dedicated GPUs, so the only Arc driver that needs to support 18.104.22.16834. Conversely, Team Red’s drivers list compatibility with all cards since the HD 7700 series. Nvidia similarly extends it to the GeForce GTX 600 series.
Moreover, the two old competitors retain support for DirectX versions 9 through 12 along with Vulkan, OpenGL, and other graphics APIs. Meanwhile, the Intel Arc has it relatively Limited Support for DirectX versions earlier than 12, which is arguably its biggest weakness. So, why it needs to be twice as large as the download is weird. Perhaps Intel’s solutions to legacy APIs will result in more code than less.
Another explanation could be that Intel includes drivers for the integrated Intel Xe graphics for its Tiger Lake and Raptor Lake processors. Of course, we can poke holes in this theory because the AMD download also supports integrated GPUs and APUs.
The simplest explanation might be that Intel hasn’t had much time to improve its drivers in terms of performance and download size. Since they are new to the field, this problem can correct itself in time. We’ll have to see what the Intel Arc Battlemage version does for the company’s drivers.