Best driver for Intel Core i3 integrated graphics?

As this seems not yet to be covered in openSUSE Graphic Card Practical Theory Guide for Users I am asking here.

The Motherboard is an Asus P7H55-M Pro with Intel Core i3 530@2.93GHz. openSUSE 11.3 assigns the i915 driver by default:

# lspci -vk
00:02.0 VGA compatible controller: Intel Corporation Core Processor Integrated Graphics Controller (rev 12) (prog-if 00 [VGA controller])
        Subsystem: ASUSTeK Computer Inc. Device 8383
        Flags: bus master, fast devsel, latency 0, IRQ 30
        Memory at f7800000 (64-bit, non-prefetchable) [size=4]
        Memory at e0000000 (64-bit, prefetchable) [size=256]
        I/O ports at bc00 [size=8]
        Expansion ROM at <unassigned> [disabled]
        Capabilities: [90] MSI: Enable+ Count=1/1 Maskable- 64bit-
        Capabilities: [d0] Power Management version 2
        Capabilities: [a4] PCI Advanced Features
        Kernel driver in use: i915

Is this the best choice or are there other (newer?) drivers?[/size][/size][/size]

The i915 kernel module comes as part of the intel driver (inside the xorg-x11-driver-video rpm) and that is described in the opensuse graphic card practical theory guide, albeit I concede its not obvious to anyone who has not looked at this a bit. In such a case, one can also check the contents of a graphic driver rpm to see EXACTLY what is inside (for driver support) and there is guidance here for that:

[/size][/size] - openSUSE Graphic Card Practical Theory Guide for Users

although I concede that can be difficult for anyone who is not a long-in-the-tooth average user (like me) or an expert user (of which I am not one).

There are a lot of i3 and i5 devices showing up now with Integrated graphics, and the situation is in a bit of flux wrt support for those devices. As soon as things setting down that I can get a handle as to the exact support, I may update the guides (or someone else who understands this better can also do so). Note I do NOT have this hardware, and that makes it incredibly difficult to provide further information.

Other than the “intel” driver (that contains the i915) the only other recent driver I know of is the IEGD, but information on users using that is somewhat limited. The IEGD is a proprietary graphic driver and one needs to download and install separately (but ONLY do so if one’s hardware is supported). The IEGD page notes it supports:

  1. Intel® System Controller Hub US15W, US15WP and US15WPT

  2. Intel® Q45, G41 and G45 Express chipsets

  3. Mobile Intel® GM45, GL40 and GS45 Express chipsets

  4. Intel® Q35 Express Chipset

  5. Mobile Intel® GME965 and GLE960 Express chipsets

  6. Intel® Q965 Express Chipset

  7. Mobile Intel® 945GSE and 945GME Express chipsets

  8. Intel® 945G Express Chipset

  9. Mobile Intel® 910GMLE and 915GME Express chipsets

  10. Intel® 915GV Express Chipset

  11. Intel® Atom™ processor 400/500 series
    and as near as i can determine, NONE of those follow into the category of the integrated graphics that comes with an i5 or i3 processor (but I really do not know). In particular, since I do not have that hardware, I have to rely on posts on others in order to provide more guidance.
    The difficult is the majority of Linux users, once they have it working, stop posting and provide NO INFORMATION, hence making it very difficult to update/write graphic card guides. Most of these users forget we are a volunteer community, and we survive and thrive ONLY on the volunteer efforts of our users.[/size]

A good guide I find for graphics is the Think Wiki. While written around IBM/Lenovo PCs, its information is often generic enough to be applied to other hardware. The Think Wiki has this on the Intel i3. If one looks there, one will see it points to here on Integrated Intel HD Graphics.

That is very clear in noting that a very recent Linux distribution with kernel 2.6.33 and Intel Xorg driver 2.11 or newer is recommended. It also notes that XVideo (Xv) playback at certain frame sizes does not work properly unless you have at least version 2.12 of the Intel Xorg driver. …

The “Intel Xorg driver” is the “intel” driver that I referred to in a previous post.[/size][/size][/size]

Here is the quote out of the opensuse graphic card practical theory guide"

  • intel
  • this is an free open source driver for all Intel hardware. The “intel” driver supports the i810, i810-DC100, i810e, i815, i830M, 845G, 852GM, 855GM, 865G, 915G, 915GM, 945G, 945GM, 965G, 965Q, 946GZ, 965GM, 945GME, G33, Q33, Q35, G35, GM45, G45, Q45, G43 and G41 chipsets. This driver should have much better performance than the VESA driver. It typically comes packaged with openSUSE as part of xorg-x11-driver-video rpm.

Note the references to i915

… and if one looks inside the xorg-x11-driver-video rpm one can obtain more information as to the intel driver and the i915 kernel module that it provides.

As noted, the situation is still in flux. In addition to the Intel driver, and the proprietary Intel IEGD driver, I note there is also a EMGD intel driver, and I have not yet read of anyone using that driver.

Intel web site has this to say:

Version: 1.5 Release date: October 6, 2010 File Size: 117,269KB
Intel® Embedded Media and Graphics Driver (Intel® EMGD) specifically targets the needs of embedded platforms that use the Intel® System Controller Hub US15W, US15WP and US15WPT or the Intel® Atom™ Processor E6xx Series. This driver set is enhanced over the previous Intel® Embedded Graphics Drivers (IEGD) by providing higher performance and improved usability.

with support being applicable to this hardware:

  • Intel® System Controller Hub US15W, US15WP and US15WPT
  • Intel® Atom™ Processor E6xx Series

and as near as I can determine, the Intel® EMGD is NOT for Core i3 PCs graphics.

Your best bet is likely the “intel” driver, unless someone reports that the “IEGD” driver works for Core i3 (I have not read of any such report).

When I read this phoronix article on the Core i3 integrated graphics it reads to me that the “intel” driver is the driver you should be using in Linux. Phoronix have this to say:

In regards to the on-die GPU, the Clarkdale IGP is supported by the Linux 2.6.33 kernel DRM and is also supported by the xf86-video-intel DDX driver and Mesa after being previously known as the IGDNG with there being initial support for this new Intel graphics processor more than six months ago. Subsequent updates to the Intel IGDNG support delivered a new shader compiler and other improvements.

The xf86-video-intel is the same as the “intel” driver that I am referring to.

A further note about Intel graphic drivers, and that is the performance of Intel graphic drivers on Linux lags their behaviour under MS-Windows.

This is noted clearly in this recent (25-Nov-2010) Phoronix article .

I note the Core i3 integrated graphics terminology is “Clarkdale” for desktops, and “Arrandale” for laptops. There are bugs in the 2.12 Intel driver for the Clarkdale/Arrandale, where from what I have read, at least one of the “Arrandale” bugs is reported fixed in the 2.13 Intel driver. Unfortunately only the 2.12 driver is available for openSUSE-11.3, where the 2.13 Intel driver is not (yet) nominally available for openSUSE-11.3, and can’t be installed without doing a custom non-SuSE-GmbH supported download/install from the Xorg : X11 repository (or doing a custom compile one’s self).

Since you know the name/type of the motherboard, then presumably you can access the mobo specs (provided by Asus), which should tell you the type of intel chipset installed by Asus. It is better to know this independently of the operating systems’ view as they don’t always get it right.

When you have the name of the chipset and possibly the type of integrated graphics or graphics media accelerator (GMA), please tell us.

You can also check the chipset support in the (intel) driver’s “man page” and that claimed in the driver’s output in X’s /var/log/Xorg.0.log, since they may not be the same for newer hardware.[/size][/size][/size]

If one is having major problems with a Core i3 Arrandale graphic device on their PC, and if one wishes to try the Intel-2.13 driver, then take a look at this thread: Intel Arrandale graphics and kwin compositing issues in 11.3+KDE4.5.3 … in particular post#2, #4, and #5 in that thread, where guidance for updating is indirectly provided. Note I do NOT recommend updating unless one is a sold-average Linux user, or an advanced Linux user. Also note that there is a reasonable chance the cutting edge X11 : Xorg repository Intel driver will break one’s system completely, forcing a re-install. In addition, even if the updated 2.13 driver works, nominal xorg openSUSE updates could break things again. Plus one should REMOVE the xorg : x11 repos immediately after any updates.

So I recommend extreme caution and only update if one has no other choice.

Reference driver hardware information, for PCI devices I find that ‘lspi’ command with more optimal arguements (than used above in 1st post) is useful. What works better for me, to obtain device-ID and vendor-ID information, is :

/sbin/lspci -nnk

On an Intel i5-430M (an “Arrandale”), with onboard Intel GMA HD graphics (aka “Ironlake”), and without switchable graphics, I have a separate openSUSE 11.3 installation, with two out-of-stream changes:

Kernel: 2.6.37-rc3-git1-5 (source: Index of /repositories/Kernel:/HEAD/openSUSE_11.3)

Xorg from Index of /repositories/X11:/XOrg/openSUSE_11.3.

The environment displays as follows:

lspci -v

00:02.0 VGA compatible controller: Intel Corporation Core Processor Integrated Graphics Controller (rev 12) (prog-if 00 [VGA controller])
        Subsystem: Acer Incorporated [ALI] Device 031c
        Flags: bus master, fast devsel, latency 0, IRQ 41
        Memory at d0000000 (64-bit, non-prefetchable) [size=4]
        Memory at c0000000 (64-bit, prefetchable) [size=256]
        I/O ports at 3050 [size=8]
        Expansion ROM at <unassigned> [disabled]
        Capabilities: [90] MSI: Enable+ Count=1/1 Maskable- 64bit-
        Capabilities: [d0] Power Management version 2
        Capabilities: [a4] PCI Advanced Features
        Kernel driver in use:** i915**[/size][/size]

Xorg.0.log presents:

   762.141] (II) LoadModule: "intel"
   762.141] (II) Loading /usr/lib64/xorg/modules/drivers/
   762.142] (II) Module intel: vendor="X.Org Foundation"
   762.142] 	compiled for, module version = **2.13.901**
   762.142] 	Module class: X.Org Video Driver
   762.142] 	ABI class: X.Org Video Driver, version 8.0
   762.142] (II) **intel**: Driver for Intel Integrated Graphics Chipsets: i810,
	i810-dc100, i810e, i815, i830M, 845G, 854, 852GM/855GM, 865G, 915G,
	E7221 (i915), 915GM, 945G, 945GM, 945GME, Pineview GM, Pineview G,
	965G, G35, 965Q, 946GZ, 965GM, 965GME/GLE, G33, Q35, Q33, GM45,
	4 Series, G45/G43, Q45/Q43, G41, B43, B43, **Clarkdale, Arrandale,**
	Sandybridge, Sandybridge, Sandybridge, Sandybridge, Sandybridge,
	Sandybridge, Sandybridge
   762.142] (++) using VT number 7

While I can not say this is the best or optimum driver, it does work with the Arrandale/Ironlake combination. There are boot and suspension considerations detailed here - The “Black Screen” on Boot … a Surprise !.

The updated Xorg/intel drivers also appear to function with the (current) mainstream kernel ( The 2.12 Intel drivers are partway there, and the 2.13 drivers seem to experience the power management problems associated with the “eDP” facility. This seems to only be an issue at boot-time, or susspension/hibernation from the Login screen.

The above environment is used only for testing, until driver nirvana is attained, hopefully beginning with 11.4.[/size]

I’d wager lots of disappointed Arrandale users are now searching the internet for a new opensource driver called “nirvana” to solve their problems. lol!

Thank you all for your thoughtful and friendly contributions, especially oldcpu. I agree that these Intel processors with integrated GPU, namely i3 and i5 (and - partially - i7) are coming to the mass market now. After reading the sources you provided, I come to the conclusion, that the i915 driver is the right one (at least for the time being). It does work, but it is far from ideal. I opened the System Monitor (for CPU load) and seamonkey, and noticed, that scrolling the openSUSE forums with the mouse wheel within seamonkey peaks one of the four CPU cores up to 70%. I don’t complain, as my main working tool is the command line within Konsole, but other users doing games may have a different experience.

Playing a video from youtube (e.g the wonderful fractal zoom 209.338] (II) intel(0): blueX: 0.146 blueY: 0.072 whiteX: 0.313 whiteY: 0.329

Interesting ! My wife just bought a a PC with the i3 “clarkdale” and the Asus P7H55-M motherboard. However I also had her purchase a very inexpensive nVidia G210 graphic card, and we plan to use that for the near term, … at least until the Intel driver situation is sorted.

The PC just arrived today, and this weekend we hope to setup an OS on it.

The planning thread is here: Wife orders new PC with no OS … possible openSUSE candidate](

@vodoo thanks for the info. Purely out of interest, not benchmark, what results do you get running glxgears in a terminal as normal user, i.e. steady state FPS (approx)?

@consused: That’s what I get:

vodoo@myhost:~> glxgears

*** NOTE: Don't use glxgears as a benchmark.
    OpenGL implementations are not optimized for frame rates >> 60fps,
    thus these numbers are meaningless when compared between vendors.

281 frames in 5.0 seconds = 56.147 FPS
301 frames in 5.0 seconds = 60.020 FPS
301 frames in 5.0 seconds = 60.020 FPS
301 frames in 5.0 seconds = 60.020 FPS

What does this mean to you? (Is this a good/fair/poor result?)

I’m bad !! She bought a PC with the Core i7 Arrandale and the Asus P7H55-M motherboard. There is a BIG difference between a Core i3 and a Core i7.


However I also had her purchase a very inexpensive nVidia G210 graphic card, and we plan to use that for the near term, … at least until the Intel driver situation is sorted.

Can you make a comparision between the two - nVidia G210 and i3 integrated graphics? Everything else being equal this would give a hint how good or bad the i3 driver really is.

It’s interesting, because it is in line with the results found by other intel driver users, even with different chipsets like my GM45 i.e. 60 - 62 FPS. I read somewhere on the internet that although this looks very low compared to the hundreds of FPS (as with intellegacy driver on GM45), this wasn’t a problem as it (h/w or s/w?) is using some native display frame rate. However I have failed to find that comment since then.

A better test would be to see how a fairly demanding 3D game behaves on your 11.3 system with intel driver. I’m not really into that on linux, but other users with GM45 have commented adversely about its performance.

Unfortunately, as I noted, I made a mistake above. While your PC has the same motherboard as that of my wife’s new PC (and hence I think graphic chipset should be similar), your PC has the much slower Core i3 processor, while my wife purchased a PC with the faster Core i7 860 processor.

I note with the nVida GeForce G210 series PCI-e graphic card, and the proprietary nVidia graphic driver, she gets this from glxgears:

mrscpu@corei7-960:~> glxgears

*** NOTE: Don't use glxgears as a benchmark.
    OpenGL implementations are not optimized for frame rates >> 60fps,
    thus these numbers are meaningless when compared between vendors.

12300 frames in 5.0 seconds = 2459.931 FPS
12542 frames in 5.0 seconds = 2508.359 FPS
12536 frames in 5.0 seconds = 2507.181 FPS
12707 frames in 5.0 seconds = 2540.865 FPS 

I do not think glxgears is a totally representative bench mark. And I note that my wife’s PC’s Intel Core i7 is SIGNIFICANTLY faster than the relatively slow Intel Core i3 processor. Plus despite recent criticism, nVidia do a pretty good job with providing reasonable graphic support with the proprietary nVidia driver which works well on my wife’s PC’s GeForce G210.

That is why I pushed her to pay the extra money to purchase a modern low performance nVidia pci-e graphic card (which still supports HD video decoding via VDPAU).

Some associated detail, where “/sbin/lspci -nnk” gives the following for my wife’s PC’ graphic card:

01:00.0 VGA compatible controller [0300]: nVidia Corporation GT218 [GeForce 210] [10de:0a65] (rev a2)
        Subsystem: ASUSTeK Computer Inc. Device [1043:8334]
        Kernel driver in use: nvidia

and she has the nVidia 260.19.21 Catalyst proprietary graphic driver.

I’m not keen on pushing my wife to change her monitor connection and BIOS settings to test the integrated graphic card. She is still struggling in setting up MS-Windows under Virtual Box on this PC (through no fault of Virtual Box - these are MS-Windows specific head aches she is dealing with), and she does not want me distracting her from doing that to do Linux tests that take more than just a couple of minutes.

I do have high hopes for the Intel Integrated Graphics Adapters. But their drivers are simply not there yet for Linux.


What I quoted is not great performance as the graphic card on my wife’s PC is a minimal card. My assessment is the ‘higher numbers’ come from it running on a Core i7 (as opposed to your Core i3).

For example, if we look at the glxgears numbers from my Core i7 920 (with a higher performance GLX 260 graphic card) where the Core i7 920 has similar performance to a Core i7 860, I obtain this with the GLX-260:

oldcpu@corei7_920:~> glxgears

*** NOTE: Don't use glxgears as a benchmark.
    OpenGL implementations are not optimized for frame rates >> 60fps,
    thus these numbers are meaningless when compared between vendors.

96387 frames in 5.0 seconds = 19277.389 FPS
96447 frames in 5.0 seconds = 19289.312 FPS
96265 frames in 5.0 seconds = 19252.988 FPS
95685 frames in 5.0 seconds = 19136.977 FPS 

ie. much superior glxgears numbers.

But again I do not think one should put much faith in glxgears. There are OTHER factors that are more important.