Intel details a pesky fix for high idle power consumption in Arc GPUs
Intel’s Arc A750 and A770 GPUs were finally released earlier this month after years of teases, announcements and delays, and the end result is a pair of GPUs that generally offer respectable performance for the price. But Intel’s first dedicated gaming-focused GPU architecture also had many first-generation problems, including driver and performance issues in games that don’t use modern DirectX 12 or Vulkan graphics APIs.
Another early issue can be idle power consumption—the amount of power these GPUs use when they’re not actively being used or when they’re just rendering your desktop. Intel posted a troubleshooting article late last week which acknowledged that Arc desktop GPUs can suffer from “high idle power consumption,” along with troubleshooting steps.
Users will need to go into their computer’s BIOS and configure a couple of advanced PCI Express power management settings – the “Native ASPM” (or Active State Power Management) setting should be enabled and the “PCI Express root port ASPM” setting should be enabled and set to “L1 substate.” You will also need to set the PCI Express Link State Power Management setting to “maximum power saving” in the Windows advanced power options settings.
Intel acknowledges that settings will be in different places in different BIOSes and may be called different things.
Testing from Tom’s hardware shows that with the settings turned on, the Arc A750’s standby power consumption dropped from 37.3W to 15.5W, a significant drop. The same settings didn’t seem to have an effect on the Arc A770 card, although it’s unclear whether it’s a motherboard, GPU hardware or firmware bug, or a driver issue, or something else.
Intel may be able to fix the problem in the long run with driver or firmware updates for the Arc A series GPUs, but the troubleshooting article doesn’t make it sound very likely. Intel says the company will “look at optimizations in future generations,” which makes it sound like we’ll need new hardware to resolve the issue decisively.
This isn’t the first BIOS-related change Intel has requested from Arc users. Card performance also suffers significantly when a feature called Resizable BAR (or ReBAR, or Smart Access Memory, or SAM) is disabled in your BIOS. Nvidia and AMD cards can also benefit when variable BAR sizing is enabled—allowing your processor to address your GPU’s memory all at once instead of in 256MB chunks—but the performance impact one way or the other is significantly smaller.
What the idle power fix and variable BAR issues have in common is that not all BIOSes provide access to these settings, especially if you’re using an older PC or a pre-built desktop from a PC company rather than a modern, in-house built-in gaming pc with motherboard for enthusiasts. That’s hardly a problem for Arc buyers, but it’s another caveat for a GPU lineup that already has plenty of them.
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