intel ultrabook Ivy Bridge and Windows 8: The early 2012 next generation multi display PC

Ivy Bridge and Windows 8 will likely share the same launch window… and it seems their graphics capabilities will match too – from Stereo 3-D to multi-display support and an updated DirectX!

While there were complaints that the integrated graphics in the Sandy Bridge mainstream processor family didn’t match up to its powerful CPU cores, Intel is, as it was shown at their IDF presentations in September, committed to radically improve the situation with the Ivy Bridge family this coming spring.

Software GFX 1 Ivy Bridge and Windows 8: The early 2012 next generation multi display PC

As we covered before exclusively before anyone else, the Ivy Bridge GPU core will not just be over twice the performance of the Sandy Bridge one, but also support many other new features, like 4K display resolution and native triple-display resolution – the kind of capabilities that only higher end of the discrete GPU range would support until now.

Now, Microsoft’s Windows 8, with its “love it or hate it” Metro GUI – I personally stick with the ‘mildly dislike’ followed by ‘switch back to the old one’ – will also bring some improvements into its graphics capabilities, like DirectX 11.1 update, Stereo 3D native support and further DirectCompute enhancements for greater GPU use in more apps.

Software GFX 8 Ivy Bridge and Windows 8: The early 2012 next generation multi display PC

Windows 8 and Ivy Bridge announcement dates are expected to be very close to one another, so we checked with our sources how’s the Intel driver support for those new Windows 8 capabilities at launch. And, guess what, all the new stuff is supported right away, as you can see:

This includes more things, like OpenGL 3.1 and OpenCL 1.1 for the non Microsoft user base, and even 3 protected HDCP streams for invididual HD video displays across 3 independent monitors that the Ivy Bridge platform will support.

Overall, the impact of these step by step improvements is that Intel’s graphics capabilities are going up one notch further compared to the discrete GPU makers, and essentially making it really ‘good enough’ for an even larger portion of the mainstream user community not to bother with adding discrete GPUs.

With Ivy Bridge likely enabling playable 3-D games with medium settings even up to FullHD resolution – not in all games, mind you, but many nevertheless – the entry level discrete GPU market will really feel great extinction pressure, unless the GPU vendors find a way to further double or triple the performance of the cards in the $50-$100 range at the same time. That, of course, depends on the success of the impending 28 nm GPU rollout by both AMD and Nvidia.