Retrobooster on Intel HD Graphics 4000

October 18, 2012 by Terry

Somewhat surprisingly, Retrobooster runs on Intel HD Graphics 4000 at 1920×1080 at a solid 60 frames per second. I had read about how good the new HD 4000 graphics part is, but I’m still a bit stunned to see it in action. This is really good news for Retrobooster because it greatly expands the number of computers on which it can perform well.

I have two test computers with HD 4000 graphics: a home-built Linux computer with an i5-3750K @ 3.4GHz, and a Dell laptop running Windows 7 and Linux with an i5-3210M @ 2.5GHz. These new Ivy Bridge CPUs actually contain the HD 4000 instead of leaving it on a separate chip. The laptop uses HD 4000 graphics for “power saving” applications and also has AMD Radeon HD 7730M graphics for “high performance” applications that require more graphics power.

Two days ago Retrobooster was performing very poorly on both of these systems. This is because it was copying data from the framebuffer, which bogs down HD 4000 graphics very badly. Once I found this slow path and removed it, performance shot way up. There were also some visual artifacts in Windows but not Linux. These appear to be graphics driver problems, but I was able to work around them. Now Retrobooster runs fast with accurate visuals on both computers. Despite the aforementioned issues, I’m fairly impressed.

Retrobooster actually runs 10-20% faster on “power saving” HD 4000 than on 7730M, which shouldn’t happen given their respective benchmark scores. I’m probably still hitting some slow path with the 7730M, but that’s a problem for another day.

HD 4000 is the fastest embedded graphics product Intel has released, so it will be fun to see how Retrobooster performs on slower versions of their embedded graphics. It’s unfortunate that I don’t have any of that hardware to test with. Intel has earned big points in my book for packing this much graphics power into a CPU. …Now if only they would work on their other problems.

UPDATE (October 29):
My wife built a Linux box with an i5-3570 @ 3.4GHz with HD Graphics 2500, the low-end sibling of HD Graphics 4000. On it, Retrobooster maintains 60 FPS most of the time, but dips to around 45 FPS under load. It’s a bit slower than the 4000 graphics, but still easily good enough to be playable.

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