Windows Enterprise Desktop

Jan 27 2012   7:17PM GMT

Intel Driver Update Utility and Intel Chipsets

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel

The Intel Driver Update Utility is handy but not always completely current
The Intel Driver Update Utility is handy but not always completely current

The Intel Driver Update Utility(IDUU) is a handy-dandy software tool that depends on a “Systems Requirements Lab” active widget from Husdawg to scan PCs for Intel components, and to report on their current update status. It’s pretty useful, and has become part of my normal maintenance routine for checking driver status on the PCs I manage. I also use DriverAgent (though other tools like RadarSync, Driver Detective, Drive Guide, and so forth also do pretty much the same thing) but I’ve observed that Intel is often better at keeping up with its own drivers than third parties, so I’ve come to depend on IDUU to help me keep my Intel drivers as current as can be.

But recently, I noticed something subtle about the language that the IDUU uses to report on drivers it finds, that in turn led me to realize that Intel apparently doesn’t care if a driver is the most current in every case. Rather, it appears to care only that some drivers are “valid,” even when newer drivers may be available. Notice this report block on the Intel Chipset Software Installation Utility:

Now, compare this to the language used for the built-in Realtek RTL8013EL Ethernet GbE adapter on that same motherboard:

In the chipset case, the version is valid, but in the Ethernet adapter’s case the driver is current. “Hmm…” I wondered, “Is there a difference between valid and current?”

The answer turns out to be “Yes.” By researching the most current Series 3 Chipset Driver through a manual search on Intel’s Download pages, I was able to determine that the highest numbered version available was 9.2.3.1022. My machine was happily running version 9.2.3.1016 instead. A quick download and install took care of that issue as the preceding chipset screen capture now attests, but this leaves me wondering why the IDUU doesn’t tell its users that a more current version is available. My best guess is that it waits until some critical feature gets introduced in a newer update, and only then instructs its users to update their drivers. That would be a reasonable approach to driver updates where “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” often prevails as a guiding principle. I can only imagine that’s why Intel also labels the 9.2.3.1022 version as valid, even though it’s also the most current as well.

But if, like me, you want at least some machines to always be running the absolute latest and greatest Intel drivers, if only for test purposes, it’s good to know that when you see “valid” in this tool you should probably go looking for something more current, just in case it’s out there for downloading.

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