News AMD, Intel and Nvidia GPU Driver Sizes Compared: Who's Most Bloated?

If you just analyse the size in megabytes without listing all features in the "driver", then it's kind of moot?

Plus, they not only bring "the drivers", so it's hard to just simplify it like that.

From the top of my head, AMD brings:
  • Core driver (DX12, Vulkan, etc support) and configs.
  • Adrenalin UI.
  • ReLive / Streaming / Recording stuff.
  • Subset of Ryzen Master for GPU OC (and in the case of laptops, CPU OC).
  • AMD Link: Platform integration and links (Steam, Twitch, etc).
  • A web browser (No idea why!).
  • Game profiles subsystem.
  • Hotkeys and Overlay.
  • Video playback and Noise suppression options.
  • Notification and Bug Reporting tool subsystems.
I'm sure I'm missing something else, but that's what I remember (and just checked)

Regards.
 

camtasia_kid

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Most of us have no concern about the size of these critical drivers, and the adjacent fluff features, we care about their stability, performance and overall quality. My primary workstation has 10TB of NVMe drives, and 36 TB of RAID 0 SATA, NAS drives, and even my laptop has 2 TB.
 

PlaneInTheSky

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But AMD and Nvidia have nothing on Intel when it comes to driver bloat. 1.21GB (opens in new tab) Great Scott!
Do you not understand what a driver is? Those are not drivers you are talking about.

A driver is a dynamic link library with a .sys extention. It comes with a driver installer and catalog file. These driver files are just a few megabytes in size, often just kilobytes. This is basic Windows 101.

What you are talking about in your article are not drivers. Thank god, because if drivers were actually 500MB-1.2GB in size, we'd have a serious problem.
 
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JarredWaltonGPU

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Do you not understand what a driver is? Those are not drivers you are talking about.

A driver is a dynamic link library with a .sys extention. It comes with a driver installer and catalog file. These driver files are just a few megabytes in size, often just kilobytes. This is basic Windows 101.

What you are talking about in your article are not drivers. Thank god, because if drivers were actually 500MB-1.2GB in size, we'd have a serious problem.
Thanks, and welcome to my ignore list.
 

JarredWaltonGPU

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Most of us have no concern about the size of these critical drivers, and the adjacent fluff features, we care about their stability, performance and overall quality. My primary workstation has 10TB of NVMe drives, and 36 TB of RAID 0 SATA, NAS drives, and even my laptop has 2 TB.
Well, that's the real question, isn't it? What is it that Intel is doing that requires a 50% larger download, yet generally speaking performance, compatibility, and stability still aren't at the level of AMD and Nvidia? Actually, it's 50% larger than Nvidia's driver download, and over twice as large as AMD's driver download. Given it only has to support a relative handful of different GPUs (four Arc desktop, five or so more Arc mobile, and maybe a dozen different integrated configurations for various 11th/12th/13th Gen CPUs), why is it so big? And it's been big since day one, incidentally. I just wrote this because I updated to the latest beta Arc drivers (again) for some retesting.

I can't help but be curious about why Intel's drivers, which are quantifiably inferior to Nvidia's drivers, need to be so large. Well, other than potentially being hastily coded and not as optimized. As a CS grad, I have little doubt that larger project sizes to accomplish the same task means less than ideal code. Been there, done that. Maybe Intel is still including all the debug libraries and such, which would certainly bloat the size (and reduce performance).
 

PiranhaTech

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Yes and no. GPU gaming performance deals with probably a very small subset of the files. There's a saying that 10% of the code of a program runs 90% of time. Some studies actually say it's 5%/95%. Companies like AMD could also have different teams for different parts of the driver kit. For example, there could be one team that works on the rasterization part, another that works on the Radeon Control Panel

However, over-bloat can be an indication that they aren't taking the time to polish things.

The AMD driver for 2 GPUs being around the size of the big set actually makes sense. The UI for the new drivers looks the same, and the bundled software is probably making up the bulk of the package.

AMDSplashScreen.exe is just a splash screen, and it's 10 MB. QT5's DLLs (Qt5*.dll) are 110 MB on the C:\Program Files\AMD\CNext\CNext folder. C:\Program Files\AMD\CNext... looks like 381 MB of the drivers is mostly the control panel UI and features like Twitch integration. There might be things like GPU-accelerated video decoding going on, but it's hard to tell just by looking at the folder

100 MB for what looks like a copy of the installer that's probably mostly the base-bones functionality.

40 MB on localization itself (also CNext folder)

ffmpeg is there. avcodec-58.dll is around 30 MB. 110 MB for qt5*.dll and 40 MB for localization. There's 180 MB right there. There's a few ffmpeg files that nickel-and-dime the size up, pretty significantly

This PC has been upgraded a lot, so there's a chance that these could be old file.
 
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jkflipflop98

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Or maybe Intel's special "rosetta stone" software approach to backwards compatibility requires more coding than the other two entrenched players with hardware compatibility.

But let's just jump straight to Intel's drivers being "inferior" in some way because of the size of the package download.
 
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tommo1982

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Yes and no. GPU gaming performance deals with probably a very small subset of the files. There's a saying that 10% of the code of a program runs 90% of time. Some studies actually say it's 5%/95%. Companies like AMD could also have different teams for different parts of the driver kit. For example, there could be one team that works on the rasterization part, another that works on the Radeon Control Panel

However, over-bloat can be an indication that they aren't taking the time to polish things.

The AMD driver for 2 GPUs being around the size of the big set actually makes sense. The UI for the new drivers looks the same, and the bundled software is probably making up the bulk of the package.

AMDSplashScreen.exe is just a splash screen, and it's 10 MB. QT5's DLLs (Qt5*.dll) are 110 MB on the C:\Program Files\AMD\CNext\CNext folder. C:\Program Files\AMD\CNext... looks like 381 MB of the drivers is mostly the control panel UI and features like Twitch integration. There might be things like GPU-accelerated video decoding going on, but it's hard to tell just by looking at the folder

100 MB for what looks like a copy of the installer that's probably mostly the base-bones functionality.

40 MB on localization itself (also CNext folder)

ffmpeg is there. avcodec-58.dll is around 30 MB. 110 MB for qt5*.dll and 40 MB for localization. There's 180 MB right there. There's a few ffmpeg files that nickel-and-dime the size up, pretty significantly
It'd be nice to have an option to choose what I want to install with the GPU driver. I also with there was an option to select the most simplistic interface as possible. Adrenalin should be a driver and architecture specific settings. There's MSI Afterburner to tune the card. Why not work with the guy responsible for it, and divert those people to optimising GPU performance.
 
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PlaneInTheSky

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I can't help but be curious about why Intel's drivers, which are quantifiably inferior to Nvidia's drivers, need to be so large. Well, other than potentially being hastily coded and not as optimized. As a CS grad, I have little doubt that larger project sizes to accomplish the same task means less than ideal code. Been there, done that.
This idea that Intel their code is "less ideal" because some files you downloaded were larger is complete nonsense.

Nor does a larger file indicate that it was "hastily coded" or "unoptimized".

I know you said you put me on ignore, but your article and arguments are just flat out wrong.
 
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JarredWaltonGPU

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Or maybe Intel's special "rosetta stone" software approach to backwards compatibility requires more coding than the other two entrenched players with hardware compatibility.

But let's just jump straight to Intel's drivers being "inferior" in some way because of the size of the package download.
No, it's not jumping straight to Intel's drivers being inferior — that's already a known quantity, one Intel is working to fix but hasn't fully addressed. The point is that Intel's drivers are inferior and twice as large as AMD's drivers (for download size). Doing less with more, in other words. And if Intel is choosing to use binary translation or whatever for backward compatibility, that's usually done to reduce coding effort, not increase it. Intel is playing catch up and I get that. But I'm also not blindly going to pat them on the head and pretend things are great.

Minecraft with ray tracing finally runs on Arc, for example. It runs super poorly. My most recent test (on A770 8GB) has worse performance than the A750 with previous drivers. Oops. But yes, let's just put "inferior" in quotes and ignore the hard evidence that shows they really do have inferior drivers.
 
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PlaneInTheSky

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The point is that Intel's drivers are inferior and twice as large as AMD's drivers (for download size). Doing less with more, in other words.
Driver file size does not correlate with performance in any shape or form. Period.

You don't get to argue about this, it's just wrong.

Jesus Tomshardware, don't make me put this on social media.
 

donner

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The AMD driver for 2 GPUs being around the size of the big set actually makes sense. The UI for the new drivers looks the same, and the bundled software is probably making up the bulk of the package.
It could also make sense for the RDNA3 package to essentially be the future unified package with the non-RDNA3 GPUs locked out via a flag because they did not have time to test and debug on the other GPUs in time for the RDNA3 release.
 
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cyrusfox

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Well, that's the real question, isn't it? What is it that Intel is doing that requires a 50% larger download
My memory could be faulty but if I recall correctly Intel originally released their ARC driver as a tiny downloader program that's purpose was to dynamically get only the files needed for installation, but in practice it was buggy and slow, I believe it was Gamers Nexus that complained loudly about that. So they changed course and packaged everything that could possibly be needed in a single giant install so the install process would go faster at the expense of a larger initial download before you can begin. They originally tried to innovate here but had issues and so we are left with a unoptimized giant install file.

This appears to be a class issue from Intel, always trying to do too much, and not doing any of it well. Not many care about bloated driver files(decent enough internet speed), this is a fine tradeoff. What we all care about are drivers work, After they get them mature, then optimize and cut out the fluff and save on network transactions/space. In terms of priorities, driver size should be at the very bottom of items worth working on.
 

BogdanH

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I will talk only about AMD (which I have) drivers here.

Downloadable file size tells nothing about content: it just tells smaller file will download quicker than larger and that it requires less storage space than a larger one.
The file we download is compressed executable file and on execution (driver install), files are decompressed first (usually stored in C:\AMD\ directory). Once files are decompressed, actual driver installation starts and files are copied into final destination (Windows, Program Files, etc.).
Point being: downloadable file size of latest driver is 560MB, but decompressed size is 1.48GB. And after drivers (and stuff) are installed, everything occupies 2x1.48GB (=3GB!) of space (in case we forget to manually delete C:\AMD directory afterwards).
Is that a lot space? No idea -because I didn't investigate how much of that is actually useful for my needs. In that sense: Please AMD, give us options what we wish to install!

Bogdan
 
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As if anyone installs it all?

Plus NVCleaninstall is usually about 48mb of package and even that is bigger than the actual driver. AMD has a similar bloat-less option - albeit with less frequent updates and reliability in my experience but it's been a while and I can't recall it's name - probably somewhere on Guru3D or Techpowerup.
 
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TJ Hooker

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It'd be nice to have an option to choose what I want to install with the GPU driver. I also with there was an option to select the most simplistic interface as possible. Adrenalin should be a driver and architecture specific settings. There's MSI Afterburner to tune the card. Why not work with the guy responsible for it, and divert those people to optimising GPU performance.
In that sense: Please AMD, give us options what we wish to install!
There are "minimal" and "driver only" install options when installing AMD graphics drivers, is that what you're looking for? I haven't actually checked exactly what gets installed with each option though, or how much space each uses. I'm also fairly confident you can install just the necessary driver files by downloading the package from AMD, extracting it, and then updating your display adapter driver via Device Manager and choosing the extracted files as location of the driver to be installed.
 
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derekullo

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I highly doubt every single megabyte of the listed drivers is used for installation on a single system.

More likely the driver installation only installs drivers and utilities suitable for the current installation

A better question would be how long does each driver package take to install; Minimal and or Full settings.

Might as well include the time to download the installer, although with a gigabit connection even the 685 megabyte difference between the Intel and early AMD drivers is only a few seconds.
 

tamalero

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Do you not understand what a driver is? Those are not drivers you are talking about.

A driver is a dynamic link library with a .sys extention. It comes with a driver installer and catalog file. These driver files are just a few megabytes in size, often just kilobytes. This is basic Windows 101.

What you are talking about in your article are not drivers. Thank god, because if drivers were actually 500MB-1.2GB in size, we'd have a serious problem.
If their DRIVER PACKAGES contain all that software.. then it counts.

Besides, the core drivers NEED most of the packages to work.
 

bluvg

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Do you not understand what a driver is? Those are not drivers you are talking about.

A driver is a dynamic link library with a .sys extention. It comes with a driver installer and catalog file. These driver files are just a few megabytes in size, often just kilobytes. This is basic Windows 101.

What you are talking about in your article are not drivers. Thank god, because if drivers were actually 500MB-1.2GB in size, we'd have a serious problem.
I agree, though I think you're looking at the term "driver" just from the hardware access layer standpoint. There are other supporting files necessary for full functionality... and of course a lot of unnecessary files (an example video that plays when you open a driver properties pages takes up more than its fair share of space in these downloads). But the hardware manufacturers themselves call these downloads "drivers," so that also seems to be a valid use of the term, regardless of the necessity of some of the contents.

I was reading this and calculating the orders of magnitude larger the downloads are than the amount of memory in my first computer (Commodore 64) and floppy disks... good to keep in mind the bits that actually provide functionality are still a small percentage of the total size.
 
Thanks, and welcome to my ignore list.
They have a good point though. As some others have also pointed out, the majority of the "driver" downloads consist of things other than the actual driver files. While I haven't looked into exactly what's included in recent GPU drivers, much of it probably consists of things like UI graphics, perhaps some sample video files, maybe a bit of audio, and supporting software that includes its own additional baggage. So the actual driver code supporting new features or additional cards likely only makes up a relatively small portion of the overall download. And it might be hard to say exactly what portion, since much of it is likely packaged into the executable files.

And of course, there may be different levels of compression applied to the download package and individual support files within it. Perhaps the Intel download has little compression applied to reduce CPU overhead during installation. Or it might include multiple copies of some files that don't actually get installed on every system.

For a better analysis of how bloated the installations are, it might be better to look at how much space the files take up when added to a fresh install of Windows. And perhaps more importantly, how much RAM each of the drivers consumes when in use. Just because the installation includes over a gigabyte of support files and utilities doesn't mean all those things are going to be loaded into memory when sitting on the desktop or running a game.
 
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While drivers themselves don't have to be huge (case in point : Mesa drivers in Linux, covering 20 years of GPU from several manufacturers in less than 200 Mb), pre-compiled shaders can be big - and some of them are now shipped with Windows drivers. Nvidia is known to pre-compile (and sometimes, hand-write some of them) quite a lot of them, thus the extra size - they've actually gotten better at it, their driver package used to go past 1 Gb too. AMD do that far less, but they can't afford to not do it at all.
Pre-compiled shaders can take up several megabytes; they compress well, but they still end up stacking up.
 
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PiranhaTech

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AMD total size is around 660 MB.

Okay, looks like there might be at least around 300 MB of third-party DLLs in AMD's folder, the bulk being the Qt C++ library. These are the ones I can identify

ffmpeg takes up around 100 MB (2 copies of the library, one in OpenVR). In fact, most of OpenVR's files are ffmpeg. ffmpeg is said to be one of the best video encoders out there (though watch out for AAC audio encoding)

I couldn't find the Nvidia files on my laptop. I do have an older laptop with an Nvidia GPU though. Hm....
 

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