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When, oh when, will better GMA 3600 drivers be released?

Kory Hansen Community Member
Currently Being Moderated

I recently bought a refurbished Atom N2600 netbook for playing retro games on the go. I was disappointed to find that the GMA 3600 graphics couldn't give me playable framerates in Motocross Madness 2 and Star Wars Rogue Squadron 3D. Furthermore, AssaultCube, one of my favorite shooters, crashes evey time I try to play it. (AssaultCube Reloaded does the same thing, unsurprisingly) I've heard somewhere in the Intel community that drivers are coming, but I have to ask: when?

  • 1. Re: When, oh when, will better GMA 3600 drivers be released?
    powerarmour Community Member
    Currently Being Moderated

    We've been waiting for Windows 8 drivers ever since the first preview, and they have yet to materialize, even in beta form.

     

    The best you are going to get is the current 8.14.8.1083's :-

     

    Download Center

     

    But even these are quite woeful in many regards, especially 2D performance...

  • 2. Re: When, oh when, will better GMA 3600 drivers be released?
    Kory Hansen Community Member
    Currently Being Moderated

    All right, I'll try out the newer drivers and see what else breaks.

  • 3. Re: When, oh when, will better GMA 3600 drivers be released?
    Kory Hansen Community Member
    Currently Being Moderated

    'The driver being installed is not validated for this computer. Please obtain the appropriate driver from the computer manufacturer.

     

    Setup will exit.'

     

    Well, that's just wonderful.

    Am I out of luck until Intel decides to make me (us) some drivers?

  • 4. Re: When, oh when, will better GMA 3600 drivers be released?
    Kory Hansen Community Member
    Currently Being Moderated

    I have a little list of games that run (or don't) on the GMA 3600.

     

    Runs OK:

    *Yume Nikki

    *World of Padman

    *Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory

    *Tremulous

    *Project64 & ePSXe

    *Icy Tower

    *Gene Rally

    *TRUAMA

    *Cube

    *Synaesthete

    *SuperTuxKart/SuperTux

    *StarCraft

    *Dolphin (slow, but forgivable)

    *SimCity Societies (see above)

    *SimTower, SimEarth, & SimCity (original through 3000 Unlimited)

    *ROM CHECK FAIL

    *RollerCoaster Tycoon

    *osu!

    *Pax Britannica

    *Dino Run SE

    *Baseball Mogul 2006

    *EarthSiege 2

    *Dwarf Fortress

     

    Games that work, but are way slower than they should be:

    *Cave Story

    *Desktop Dungeons

    *Motocross Madness 2

    *Notrium

    *School Tycoon

    *Civilization IV + Warlords

    *Smokin' Guns

    *Soldat

    *Star Wars Rogue Squadron

    *Super Crate Box (Rocket Silo lags horribly)

    *WarCraft III + Frozen Throne

    *Genetos (only lags on final generation)

     

    Games that are broken or crash on startup:

    *AssaultCube (and Reloaded)

    *EverQuest II (irritating black flickering, 100% of the time)

    *SimCity 4 Deluxe (must use software renderer)

    *The Sims Complete Collection (All Sims and objects a Sim interacts with are invisible)

    *TORCS (just plain broken)

    *Re-Volt (broken skyboxes and texture morphing)

     

    This list is completely nonexhaustive.

  • 5. Re: When, oh when, will better GMA 3600 drivers be released?
    Aaron Community Member
    Currently Being Moderated

    Please sign the petition here regarding GMA series drivers:

    Windows 8 support for Intel Atom Tablets

     

    All Intel needs to do is fix the Windows 7 drivers for PowerVR SGX based GMA products.  From there it is literally a 10 minute process to redecorate and resign the drivers for Windows 8.

     

    Pushing for Windows 8 drivers which function correctly will automatically fix the Windows 7 drivers as well.  Windows 8 is less tolerant of drivers which do not actually implement acceleration functions they claim to support.  This is why unlike most other users running Windows 7 drivers under 8, all acceleration gets disabled in GMA series drivers.  Windows 8 detects broken functions and disables acceleration.

     

    Feel free to check my other postings here, I have made some rather long write-ups detail the problems as well as documenting clearly Intel's unfulfilled commitments on the GMA 600 and similar platforms.

  • 6. Re: When, oh when, will better GMA 3600 drivers be released?
    powerarmour Community Member
    Currently Being Moderated

    Aaron wrote:

     

    All Intel needs to do is fix the Windows 7 drivers for PowerVR SGX based GMA products.  From there it is literally a 10 minute process to redecorate and resign the drivers for Windows 8.

     

    Pushing for Windows 8 drivers which function correctly will automatically fix the Windows 7 drivers as well.  Windows 8 is less tolerant of drivers which do not actually implement acceleration functions they claim to support.  This is why unlike most other users running Windows 7 drivers under 8, all acceleration gets disabled in GMA series drivers.  Windows 8 detects broken functions and disables acceleration.

     

    Indeed you're right, with so many functions in the Windows 7 drivers broken (2D even is shockingly bad), they've got a lot of work to do getting this GPU certified correctly under Windows 8.

     

    I find it laughable that the current Windows 7 drivers get a WHQL stamp and WDDM 1.1, when the only thing that arguably performs as it should is the video acceleration. This either proves that WHQL means little to Microsoft anymore, or that there are ways around it that involve envelopes of cash, or corporate nights out at a Hooters bar.

     

    The other alternative is that this whole driver issue is deliberately intentional, and that they are hobbling the PowerVR based systems to avoid making their own IGP's look bad...

  • 7. Re: When, oh when, will better GMA 3600 drivers be released?
    Vash Rahan Community Member
    Currently Being Moderated

    I was thinking of buying an N2800 Atom notebook. But after researching I found out about this Driver issues.

     

    I thought it was only with Linux.

     

    So I won't be able to use Windows 8 on this laptops?

     

    What are the implications of this Driver problems?

     

    Will I be able to play 3D games on Linux and Windows 8?

  • 8. Re: When, oh when, will better GMA 3600 drivers be released?
    Aaron Community Member
    Currently Being Moderated

    It's not so much that WHQL WDDM 1.1 is meaningless, but it is not a certification that a driver performs all functions in the most efficient manner possible, it merely indicates that it satisfies a standard set of graphics calls properly and renders them correctly under fixed test conditions.

     

    It is quite clear from my experience with the GMA 500 and 600 drivers that Intel is using a lot of software / CPU rendering instead of passing functions to the GPU correctly.  A great example is alpha blending in Windows 7 Aero.  It makes a night and day responsiveness change in overall performance and CPU load while moving multiple windows around.  So yes, the Intel driver supports alpha blending / transparency in accordance with Microsoft requirements, but they do it on the CPU.  The GMA 500 and 600 support full software alpha blending, and we know this quite clearly from how heavily transparency is used in iOS and Android devices with the same GPUs.

     

    Windows 8 WDDM 1.2 (1.3?) probably has increased the standards from merely performing the graphics calls to adding requirements as to CPU usage and execution time constraints, as Microsoft is heavily interested in battery life and responsiveness of mobile platforms to better compete with closed platform products from Apple and others.  Also, unlike Directx  9 and OpenGL 2.0 which can be mildly emulated in CPU, Windows 8 requires full Directx 10.1 (or 11) which features too much floating point math to easily emulate in software on a mobile CPU.  Similarly, developers of WinRT based apps will expect such a Directx level and full OpenGL 2.x support, not just 2.0.

  • 9. Re: When, oh when, will better GMA 3600 drivers be released?
    Kory Hansen Community Member
    Currently Being Moderated

    It's highly unlikely that Win 8 will have up-to-snuff performance.

     

    I have to recommend against using mipmapping and anisotropic filtering where possible. Not only do they decrease performance, they add to the visual glitches that may already exist (e.g. Re-Volt and MCM2). You can forget about 3D games in Linux/Win 8.

     

    On a side note, Intel could also add more features to its graphics control center. Say, a "force off" setting for V-sync. Also, Motocross Madness 2 belongs under the 'broken' category. The 'Bike & Rider' tab does not render correctly in any sense of the word, there is extensive texture morphing, and the mouse cursor is invisible 80% of the time.

  • 10. Re: When, oh when, will better GMA 3600 drivers be released?
    Aaron Community Member
    Currently Being Moderated

    Mipmapping only adds visual glitches if the graphics driver or GPU is implementing it incorrectly.  Keep in mind, mipmapping is essentially texture resampling based on distance (using smaller texture resolutions for farther objects).  It's a well documented and among the oldest 3D functions, even easy to do in software.  Mipmapping also compensates for texture offset versus the pixel centers.

     

    Anisotropic filtering, while newer (last 8 or so years as opposed to mipmapping's 15+ year history of HA), should never result in visual glitches as it's exact purpose is to remove perspective and texturing errors associated with bilinear and trilinear projection filtering techniques.

     

    If the functions are broken on GMA devices, yet work fine on ARM / PowerVR combinations such as all iOS products and many Android ones, then the fault lies with Intel's implementation and drivers.

     

    Again, this comes down to a questionable matter of fraud.  Consumers paid for a set of features promised and apparent with this hardware, but it has been denied explicitly via bad drivers.

  • 11. Re: When, oh when, will better GMA 3600 drivers be released?
    Aaron Community Member
    Currently Being Moderated

    Adding more fuel to the bad driver fire:  check the Windows 7 event logs on a GMA 600 / 3600 device (shows up on GMA 500 and others less frequently).  The place you want to take a look at is Event Viewer (Local) -> Applications and Services Logs -> Microsoft -> Windows -> Diagnostics-Performance


    You will find tons of Warnings and Errors related to the GMA drivers.  Many explicitly list degraded performance, and lost responsiveness of the Desktop Window Manager due to the GPU.  Funny, some even refer to the GMA 600 as "Driver Friendly Name : WDDM Kernel Mode Driver for Intel(R) GMA 500"  complete with timestamps for the delays incurred on the system by the driver.  Errors #500 & #501 are the worst, but #302 and similar are also bad signs as #3xx indicate drivers preventing proper standby.  #5xx errors indicate delays to the DWM subsystem and loss of 2D frame rate or desktop responsiveness.

     

    The error log on my GMA 600 Q550 has many more #500 & 501 errors than my HP Slate 500 despite literally 2x the GPU frequency (400 vs 200 MHz).  This is mostly because I can run IEGD drivers meant for embedded OEMs (who will not tolerate crap drivers) on the GMA 500.  The GMA 600 has a negligible embedded footprint and as such has not received nearly similar driver support.  Both platforms have bad drivers regardless.

     

    Might be time to see if I can Frankenstein a decent GMA 600 driver using GMA 500 D3D and OGL DLLs.

     

    Another "neat" test you can perform is dragging a window around the screen.  Even an explorer window will cause a 20-40% boost in CPU usage on a Z670 / GMA 600 device (this is very repeatable, and I have transparency disabled).  Even the Microsoft Software rendering driver doesn't use that much CPU!

  • 12. Re: When, oh when, will better GMA 3600 drivers be released?
    powerarmour Community Member
    Currently Being Moderated

    Aaron wrote:

     

    Another "neat" test you can perform is dragging a window around the screen.  Even an explorer window will cause a 20-40% boost in CPU usage on a Z670 / GMA 600 device (this is very repeatable, and I have transparency disabled).  Even the Microsoft Software rendering driver doesn't use that much CPU!

     

    Yeah if it wasn't for the limited resolution support, I'd rather use the 'Microsoft Basic Video Adapter' driver on Windows 7/8, it simply performs much better on the desktop.

     

    And yes it's annoying when you see how well PowerVR Series 5 performs in iOS and Android platforms, and the mess we get to use on Windows...

     

    I hope this will continue to be bad PR for Intel until they can resolve this, they can't keep dumping this GPU onto users and expect them to be happy about it, it's just going to drive more low end sales to ARM hardware/tablets and seal the fate of the Atom platform.

  • 13. Re: When, oh when, will better GMA 3600 drivers be released?
    Kory Hansen Community Member
    Currently Being Moderated

    In this case both AF and mipmapping are incorrectly implemented. Here are some screenshots:

     

    Re-Volt: Linear filtering, no mipmapping

    nomip_noaf.png -Box

     

    Re-Volt: Linear mipmapping, linear filtering

    linmip_noaf.png -Box

     

    Re-Volt: Linear mipmapping, 8x AF

    https://www.box.com/s/d9rk4ciyqn0exdhpw8c1

     

    Re-Volt: no mipmapping, 8x AF

    nomip_8xaf.png -Box

     

    Notice the blurred text caused by AF.

  • 14. Re: When, oh when, will better GMA 3600 drivers be released?
    unfy Community Member
    Currently Being Moderated

    I picked up a gateway lt4004u cause it was priced right, had a long battery life, and being based on new atom stuff at the time... I figured it'd perform decently and have decent driver support.  How woefully wrong I was .  I can't imagine anyone else getting away with such shoddy drivers.  I do know that in future tablets / netbooks, I'll be probably looking elsewhere unless intel gets this gma 3600 stuff straightened out .

     

    An SSD and 4GB ram stick has helped my lt4004... and being confined to win7/32bit is fine... but... these drivers... oh the rage.

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