Smooth Sync, Intel’s solution to tearing for its graphics

In the market we can find two types of monitors depending on their refresh rate. We have, on the one hand, those with a variable refresh rate, where the number of frames per second fluctuates over time, and those with a fixed refresh rate, which, as their name suggests, are based on the fact that the screen update speed will always be the same. same. Most gaming monitor technologies are of the former type and are based on giving vertical sync control to the display controller. However, this is not always possible and that is why Intel has added two new technologies for fixed frequency monitors.

What are Intel Smooth Sync and Speed ​​Sync?

We have to start from the fact that Intel’s solution is different from NVIDIA’s G-SYNC and AMD’s FreeSync. To say, it is nothing like any of the solutions based on variable refresh rate. The reason? They have focused on solving the problems related to vertical synchronization or V-Sync, but from another perspective and thinking about users who use monitors that do not have that capacity. For this, it has created two technologies that have been baptized as Speed ​​Sync and Smooth Sync.

Speed ​​Sync

In the case of Speed ​​Sync it is a alternative to V-Syncbut without the problems of Input Lag or latency which usually has this. This is achieved by adding an additional image buffer. Technically, GPUs work with two image buffers from the monitor’s perspective. The front is the one that is already finished and the display driver can send to the monitor, the rear is the one where the GPU is building the next frame. When the time comes both buffers are swapped. So the old back buffer becomes the front buffer and the old front buffer is cleared by the graphics chip to build the next frame.

By introducing a third buffer, the process of sending to the monitor changes slightly.

  1. The GPU renders the frame in the back buffer.
  2. Once the frame is generated, it is immediately moved to the intermediate buffer.
  3. The image only goes from the rear to the front buffer when the monitor sends the signal that it is ready to receive the next frame.

In this way, the start of the frame is associated with the start of the vertical synchronization period, so it adapts the good part of vertical synchronization, but without the latency by not having to wait for the GPU to finish rendering the next frame. Come on, it doesn’t stop being Triple Buffered V-Sync with another name. As for its usefulness, this is very clear: prevent tearing.

Smooth Sync

As for Smooth Sync, it is a built-in function in display driver from Intel. And therefore, within the ARC graphics cards as in the Core processors with integrated graphics. It is a very simple technology that performs a blur effect where screen tearing occurs to hide it. This means that they have added a hardware-encoded fixed function or microprogrammed algorithm that executes this function. Which has been previously trained to detect when this phenomenon occurs.

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