Integrated Graphics Improvements
As expected, the new integrated graphics are based heavily on the Intel's Gen9 graphics in Skylake microprocessors. There is a very heavy emphasis on adding dedicated hardware to help process 4K video. These dedicated hardware units should help significantly reduce power consumption, which is very important for mobile products. Intel's graphics are split into the slice and unslice, with every three slices sharing resources, allowing for easy scaling of execution units.
However, Kaby Lake's significant improvements come in the form of fixed function units within the unslice, specifically in the Multi Format Codec (MFX) and Video Quality Engine (VQE). Intel also mentioned that there are two Quick Sync Video modes, processor graphics (PG) and fixed function (FF). With the two modes, it's possible to play a game on the integrated graphics while simultaneously streaming your gameplay. The two major improvements come in the form of full HEVC 10-bit support and support for VP9.
The new integrated graphics will bring in decode/encode support for 4K HEVC 10-bit and VP9 decode. These two improvements will bring the ability to playback 4K/60FPS content on YouTube, Netflix, and Amazon Prime video streaming services, with much lower power consumption.
Improvements to the MFX engine comes in the form of hardware accelerated 10-bit HEVC and VP9 decode and 10-bit HEVC and 8-bit VP9 encode. There are also improvements regarding wireless display (WiDi), in the form of a dedicated encoder. Intel has also focused on bringing much-needed image improvements to its integrated graphics. Intel has also added Rec.2020 support to expand the color gamut over Rec.709. High Dynamic Range (HDR) tone mapping has also been added.
Intel also held a technical session at IDF 2016 on some of the improvements to the integrated graphics inside Kaby Lake processors. They focused on showing us the actual differences between an 8-bit panel and 1-bit panel, as well as the improvements from HDR and HEVC. There is also support for 4:4:4 Chroma subsampling. The improvements in the color gamut and new hardware acceleration units should produce impressive Ultra HD Blu-ray and streaming performance.
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