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Intel Corp. has released a new driver package for its Intel Graphics Media Accelerator X3000, boosting its functionality and graphics performance. The move emphasizes that graphics performance gains importance at Intel, but unfortunately the new package is only available for Microsoft Windows XP and is designed to support already outdated Shader Model 3.0.

The new Intel Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) version 14.31.0.4859 driver for its integrated graphics processors (IGPs) adds support for hardware vertex shader 3.0 to GMA X3000 graphics core as well as resolves certain amount of problems, including those with graphics quality and performance in variety of popular three-dimensional video games. The new driver supports Intel GMA 950 (945-series chipsets), Intel GMA X3000 (963-, 965-series chipsets) as well as Intel GMA X3500 (3-series chipsets) IGPs, though, it should be observed that all of those graphics cores still have different feature-sets.

The release of the driver almost a year after Intel launched its Intel G965 core-logic set with declared DirectX 9.0c Shader Model 3.0 support and rumoured DirectX 10 functionality support highlights Intel’s unwilling to position IGPs for gaming, despite of the fact that the company does declare that its GMA graphics cores are suitable for casual gaming. Given that all games today use hardware DirectX 9.0 shaders and other graphics capabilities available on discrete graphics chips for many years, Intel has been criticized for several quarters for poor drivers, which did not even let end-users to play three years old Far Cry game.

“Now Intel G965 owners can boast much higher performance and support for more games. Games like Call of Duty 2, Far Cry and Battlefield 2 (which didn’t even run) are now playable. Overall, expect a significant boost in performance for many games,” said Nick Knupffer, a PR manager at Intel Corp. in the company’s official blog.

The company promised to release a similar driver for Microsoft Windows Vista operating system “soon”, however, the chipmaker did not reveal when it plans to release a driver that will enable DirectX 10/Shader Model 4.0 functionality on current-generation 3-series chipsets with Intel GMA X3500 IGP.

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