Intel’s Arc A350M GPU sees significant performance boost in games with Dynamic Power Share disabled
Briefly: As is usually the case with the first generation of any product, Intel’s Arc A-series GPUs seem to suffer from driver issues that prevent them from showing their true potential. It’s too early for Team Blue’s dedicated GPUs, but the company will have to get the drivers right, as most gamers will be hesitant to use a new solution, unlike the mature offerings from Nvidia and AMD.
Intel’s laptop Arc GPUs were announced in late March, but they’ve only recently begun to trickle down to consumers in South Korea. Perhaps even more disappointing is the fact that only a few laptops from Samsung and HP are equipped with Team Blue’s dedicated GPUs, and even there we’re only talking about entry-level models like the Arc A350M and Arc A370M.
Some have speculated that Intel wanted to achieve its promised launch in Q1 2022 and slow down retail availability as much as possible while engineers perfect the software side of things. According to early adopters like South Korean YouTuber BullsLab who have been scrutinizing the new GPUs, this is a likely explanation for Intel’s rather understated launch of the Arc A series.
To put things in context, leaked benchmarks with these entry-level Arc 3 series GPUs have long suggested that Intel’s parts are a work in progress, with performance on par only with low-end Nvidia and AMD counterparts. Even AMD gave it a shot at the Arc A370M GPU, posting online benchmarks that suggested the Intel part was far from being able to keep up with the Radeon 6500M, despite having more transistor logic in it.
Intel seems to have focused on performance per watt with its mobile Arc A-series GPUs, with things like Dynamic Tuning Technology (DTT) to manage power distribution between the CPU and GPU, as well as a different approach to adjusting clock speeds based on of workload and wealth envelope. In the case of Intel Arc, this technology is called Dynamic Power Share, but is essentially the same as Nvidia’s Dynamic Boost and AMD’s SmartShift.
The problem is that it doesn’t seem to work well with current drivers, and disabling it can give you quite a bit of performance gain. BullsLab looked at performance in six games and noted that disabling DTT could increase GPU usage from about 50 percent to over 90 percent and clock speeds from less than 2,000 MHz to about 2,200. The CPU was also able to give a higher boost and the overall performance immediately improved between 60 and 100 percent on average.
More interestingly, even with DTT or Dynamic Power Share disabled, the GPU was still running within its 30-watt thermal envelope and the CPU’s power consumption only rose to about 28 watts. This could be a case of aggressive throttling to keep the thermals of the relatively slim Galaxy Book2 Pro in check, but we won’t know for sure until these units get into the hands of more independent reviewers.
BullsLab also noted that stuttering was present in most of the games they tested, so we can only hope Intel can fix these issues with driver updates in the coming months. The mid-range Arc A 5 series and A 7 series are expected to arrive in early summer with better specs and higher power outputs, so it will be interesting to see how they stack up against AMD and Nvidia offerings.