Intel reiterates plans to support VESA Adaptive Sync in its GPUs

Three years ago at the late Intel Developer Forum, we broke the story that Intel planned to support the VESA Adaptive Sync variable-refresh-rate display standard, better known as AMD FreeSync, in its integrated graphics processors (or IGPs). That news was potentially earth-shaking for the standard, since Intel's IGPs push the vast majority of pixels to desktop and notebook screens alike.

Intel told us we would still have to wait for the technology a year later on the eve of the Kaby Lake launch, though, and the Gen9.5 graphics processor that shipped with Kaby Lake still powers the display outputs of Kaby Lake Refresh, Coffee Lake, Whiskey Lake, and Amber Lake systems. In the years since IDF 2016, I had resigned myself to the fact that the feature would arrive whenever it was ready to arrive. Life moves on.

Image: u/dylan522p, via Reddit

The question of Adaptive-Sync support from Intel IGPs is back in the news, however, thanks to a Twitter direct-message conversation between dylan522p, a moderator of Reddit's r/hardware community, and Chris Hook, who works in discrete graphics and visual technologies marketing at Intel and was until recently the senior director of global product marketing at AMD. In that conversation, Hook says that the feature is still in the pipe and confirms that he's "a huge fan of Adaptive Sync."

Hook's comment basically confirms the status quo: the feature is coming. I had honestly never figured that Intel planned to do anything but support the standard, since it so rarely makes definitive comments on future products. Hook's reiteration of support for the standard is exciting in light of the fact that Intel plans to begin releasing discrete graphics cards in 2020, though, as its products could expand the range and power of graphics processors compatible with Adaptive Sync.

So where is Adaptive Sync in Intel IGPs? In light of Intel's 10-nm delays—one of the first of which was announced a month before IDF 2015— it's possible that Adaptive Sync support was baked into the IGPs of future architectures slated for 10-nm production, like Cannon Lake and Ice Lake, before the company ran into roadblocks implementing them in silicon. Until the company launches future CPUs (and possibly discrete graphics cards) with updated graphics-processing architectures on board, we'll do what we have since IDF 2015: wait patiently.

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