Making their own contribution to this busy week of video cards and news games, Intel tonight removed the packs from their previous look at a new graphics control panel. The new control panel, called the Intel Graphics Command Center, or the new application – is an effort by Intel to modernize part of its overall graphics infrastructure by replacing the service (but not necessarily loved) with the current iteration of its control panel . At the same time, however, this is also the first step in part of a larger process of preparing Intel's software stack and the overall software ecosystem in front of the ambitious plans of the company to enter the discrete graphics processor market in 2020
Starting from the Intel Graphics Command Center is largely cut from the same cloth as other modern graphics control panels such as NVIDIA GeForce Experience and AMD Radeon Settings. That is, it is designed to offer a highly visible and rational approach to the graphics processor control panel, making it easy to find different features, and generally offers more user-friendly experience than the company's current control panel. And although Intel is not so far away to name names, it is clear from their presentation that they consider this kind of easy-to-use functionality to be a must-have, basic feature for each graphical processor ecosystem; in this case Intel is (or rather now ) is the only provider of computer graphics processors lacking an equivalent application.
To this end, the company has launched the new Graphics Command Center as part of their efforts to better support their current users as well as new users going forward. The Intel Graphics Command Center works with 6 Gen Core Processors (Skylake) and later, which are now the most Intel-powered systems sold over the last few years. The company calls it "early access," and this is a pretty good description for this program because, although it shows a varnish and stability level that comes with more than a year of work, Intel has not added any new features to it. But perhaps the most interesting thing about the graphics command center is how it is distributed: instead of being supplied with Intel drivers, it is delivered through the Microsoft Store on Windows 10. Yes, this is a complete UWP application with all the "modern" flourish, and that's actually an important part of Intel's strategy. Because the new DCH driver model from Microsoft requires drivers to be removed to the most necessary and delivered in parts – graphic control panels can not be packaged – these types of applications have to be delivered separately. In this case, using Microsoft Store allows Intel to integrate with the built-in operating system software functionality. This also means that the control panel is not tied to the clean schedules for updating OEM drivers for PCs; users can always download the graphical command center out of range.
Generally, the Graphics Command Center takes up many other graphical processor management applications. The front and center is a gaming-oriented approach to settings, and the app prefers to offer game-specific settings wherever possible (scan to determine which games are installed). For one of the 100 games in the list of supported Intel games, this is relatively easy, with each game getting its own page with familiar driver settings such as anti-alias, v-sync, and anisotropic filtering.
Meanwhile, Intel has also cast some functionality to better explain what these graphical settings make and their impact on performance. The small question mark next to each setting describes what the setting does and includes a photo demonstrating the concept. At the same time, to the right of the control for this setting is an indicator to indicate the effect of this setting on performance to offer a basic level of guidance on what the current setup setting will do for the game. This is actually dynamic with the setup itself, so higher levels of MSAA are marked as causing more productivity, and so on.
However, for 30 of these games, Intel also includes one-click graphics support. optimization, which is labeled with the lightning logo. Similar to how it works with other control panels, this feature will actually come into play and change its settings in Intel's proposed host computer settings. This allows Intel to fine-tune the game's settings, adjust the texture and shadow quality, the viewing distance, the AA's internal settings, and so on.
I was told that most of the work on defining these settings is done by Intel engineers by hand – and I guess that much of them is taken from the existing Intel gameplay setup service. However, with 3 generations of iGPUs that are supported and more coming, the use of automation is also increasing. As for the quality of Intel's suggestions, I did not have enough time with the Graphics Command Center to get the feeling for them, although Intel makes it very easy to cancel it if necessary.
Beyond the game settings, the Image Center command also supports all other common features you expect to find in the graphics control panel. There are settings on the monitor display such as resolution and refresh rate as well as monitor layout. There is also a set of video quality settings for adjusting color correction, deinterlacing, movie detection, and more. Unlike graphical settings, there are demonstration / explanation features to show in real-time what the different settings make, and of course there are info panels for current software and hardware, supported functions, and so on. This latter part is undoubtedly far from innovative, but if it is a basic function, then it must be present independently.
Passing the current functionality, it is clear that Intel does not believe they have finished developing their new graphics control panel. In addition to adding more gaming support, both single discovery and single click optimization, there are several other features that other GPU vendors regularly support, such as gaming. Performance monitoring and streaming of games. That's why I would be surprised if Intel did not eventually go to parity here.
But eventually starting their Graphics Command Center is more than simply improving the present; it is about laying the foundations for the future. The company is preparing to launch its Gen11 iGPU architecture this year, and all the signs indicate that the most common graphics processor configurations are much more powerful than the Skylake-era GT2 configurations. Next year, of course, will be the introduction of the first Intel discrete graphics processors Xe. Intel has big ambitions here, and in order to compete with NVIDIA and AMD, they have to coincide with their software ecosystems, not just compare them to the hardware front. So their last control panel is an important step forward in creating this ecosystem.
At the moment, however, Intel just wants to smooth out its new control panel. As part of their Odyssey community feedback / evangelism program, Intel has taken on the "early access" aspect of this edition and courtesy of user feedback on the application. And even though I suspect that Intel already knows exactly what they want to do and work on, it certainly will not bother feedback on this long road to Xe.