Digital Foundry tests Intel XeSS for Tomb Raider
Digital Foundry has been given exclusive access to XeSS upscaling technology from Intel.
The channel considers XeSS a second generation upscaling technique, on par with DLSS 2.0, AMD FSR 2.0 or other temporal super resolution technologies. The version tested by DF is XeSS 1.187 in Shadow of the Tomb Raider game. Both Intel Arc A770 and GeForce RTX 3070 GPUs were tested to provide side-by-side comparison.
The XeSS is a machine learning algorithm that is accelerated by Arc’s XMX cores. The company is also working on a DP4a version that supports GPUs from other vendors, and it will work with the same SDK as XMX model. Therefore, as long as the game supports XeSS, gamers can swap GPUs and still enjoy support for XeSS, or alternatively change to other upscaling techniques.
DF concluded that XeSS 720p to 1440p upscaling adds 2 milliseconds to frame-times, which is not ideal, but given vastly improved image quality this is still a great result. With 1080p to 4K upscale with XeSS Performance mode, frame-time increased from 8.8 ms to 12.2 ms (so an increase of 3.4ms). On GeForce RTX 3070 GPU, frame times increase was at 3.8 ms, which is a bit higher than DLSS 2.0 running in the same game.
According to Digital Foundry, XeSS will have an Ultra-Quality mode, which is not present on FSR 2.0 or DLSS 2.0. It uses higher resolution than Quality Mode and can provide 16% to 23% performance boost in SoTR at 4K and 1440p resolutions. Other modes will depend on the output resolution and intensity of the graphics in the current scene. With the Performance mode, gamers may expect 52% to 88% better framerate in SoTR, and up to 177% in 3DMark XeSS test with ray tracing.
The quality of XeSS has been comprehensively analyzed by DF in a 28-minute-long review. Since the technology is not yet available for gamers (and other press members), there is a chance that many of those issues will be resolved before XeSS is available. If not, check the full review below to know what XeSS brings over competitors and where it fails. Captured below, a comparison between NVIDIA DLSS 2.3.2 and XeSS 1.187: