comparable to NVIDIA DLSS 2.3

Digital Foundry Specialists analyzed XeSS image scaling technology and compared it to competing NVIDIA DLSS technology. For testing, discrete graphics cards Intel Arc A770 and NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 were used. The environment for testing was the adventure action game Shadow of the Tomb Raider.

Image Source: Digital Foundry

Digital Foundry expert Alex Battaglia considers XeSS version 1.187 as the second generation of scaling methods on par with NVIDIA DLSS 2.0 and AMD FSR 2.0. All three use temporal scaling algorithms, when data is taken for image processing not only from the current frame, but also from several previous ones, on the basis of which the final image of a higher resolution is formed.

XeSS is a machine learning algorithm that uses hardware cores Xe Matrix Extensions (XMX) Arc Alchemist GPUs. Intel is also developing a software analogue of XeSS, which uses DP4a algorithms to work and will be supported by third-party video cards without XMX cores. The efficiency of XeSS in this case is worse, and the scope is wider.

Digital Foundry notes that using XeSS to scale an image from native 720p to 1440p increases frame time by 2ms. However, the end result is worth it.

When scaling an image from 1080p to 4K using XeSS Performance mode, frame time increases from 8.8 to 12.2ms (+3.4ms). For comparison, DLSS 2.3 technology on the GeForce RTX 3070 graphics card increases frame time by 3.8ms under the same conditions.

  Image scaling quality modes based on native resolutions

Image scaling quality modes based on native resolutions

According to reviewers, XeSS will receive the “Ultra Quality” mode, which FSR 2.0 and DLSS 2.0 do not have. This mode uses the original image at a higher resolution than the “Quality” mode, but at the same time allows you to increase performance in Shadow of the Tomb Raider when scaling the image to 4K and 1440p by 16 and 23%, respectively. Using XeSS in Performance mode in Shadow of the Tomb Raider allows for a 52% to 88% performance increase over native resolution.

The effectiveness of XeSS with ray tracing was also tested in the 3DMark synthetic test, where, taking into account various quality modes, the technology allowed for an increase in frame rate up to 177%.

In its current form, XeSS is certainly more efficient than the same FSR 1.0 and DLSS 1.0 and in many cases provides even higher quality than the original image. The most striking example is the image of the fishing net below. On the right frame – a picture in native resolution with in-game anti-aliasing TAA. The middle image shows XeSS running, and the left one shows DLSS 2.3.2.

On the other hand, in some cases, the use of XeSS during the test led to the appearance of image artifacts. The shirt of the character below is an example.

An in-depth look at XeSS technology can be found in this 28-minute video produced by Digital Foundry.

Since XeSS is not yet available to casual gamers (as well as other members of the media), it is likely that many of its shortcomings, which the Digital Foundry team drew attention to in their review, will be fixed by release.

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