Breaking Wi-Fi Passwords with Intel Arc Graphics Cards

May 30th, 2023 by Oleg Afonin
Category: «Elcomsoft News», «GPU acceleration»

Intel has unveiled its latest lineup of dedicated graphics cards, driven by the powerful Intel Xe architecture. The Intel Arc series showcases impressive performance, rivaling mid-range offerings from competing brands, while maintaining an exceptional price-performance ratio that outperforms NVIDIA’s counterparts. In this article, we explore the potential of Intel Arc GPUs for forensic password recovery and delve into their performance capabilities, comparing them with both Intel’s built-in graphics and mid-range NVIDIA RTX boards.


Password recovery is a critical process in the field of digital forensics. The process of password recovery involves attempting to gain access to password-protected data such as encrypted disks, files, or systems, by trying different password combinations until the correct one is found. Due to the constantly increased encryption and security measures leading to the increase in the complexity and length of passwords, traditional CPU-based methods for password recovery become inefficient and unfeasible due to unrealistic time constraints. To address this challenge, we at ElcomSoft developed GPU acceleration techniques to significantly speed up the password recovery process.

What is GPU acceleration?

GPU acceleration is a technique for accelerating complex calculations by utilizing the large number of graphics processing units (GPUs) found in today’s common graphics cards. Traditionally, computationally intensive tasks have been carried on computer’s central processors (CPUs). However, GPUs, which were designed for rendering and processing graphical data in the context of 3D gaming, are equipped with a large number of cores capable of performing certain kinds of calculations in multiple parallel threads.

GPU acceleration involves offloading certain calculations from the CPU to the GPU, taking advantage of the GPU’s massive capabilities in parallel processing. This parallelization enables the GPU to perform multiple (in the order of hundreds and thousands) tasks concurrently, significantly accelerating the process. GPU acceleration is particularly effective for tasks that involve calculating hash values, which are used by data encryption tools in their respective password-based key derivation functions for turning text-based passwords into binary encryption keys.

Intel Xe architecture

Intel’s foray into dedicated graphics cards began with the development of the Intel Xe architecture. The new architecture had the first limited release in the company’s OEM-only DG1 boards that did not get much traction and were criticized for their limited compatibility and extremely poor drivers. The Xe architecture was publicly released as the Intel Arc series of graphics cards. Featuring contemporary technologies such as hardware-accelerated ray tracing and AI enhancements, Intel Arc graphics cards sought to deliver higher performance, power efficiency, and affordability compared to established GPU manufacturers.

The initial release of the first generation of Xe boards received a varied response from the community. While Intel made efforts to address the discovered issues through driver updates, one prominent challenge remained unresolved: the high idle power consumption of their cards. This issue is primarily considered a hardware-related issue and is expected to be rectified in the next generation of Intel’s graphics cards. It’s worth noting, however, that this particular concern is largely irrelevant in the context of computationally intensive password recovery tasks, where the focus is on maximizing performance rather than idle power consumption.

Intel Arc performance benchmarks

Over the years, Intel has offered a range of integrated graphics solutions, including HD Graphics, Iris Graphics, and Iris Pro Graphics, each demonstrating varying performance levels in benchmark tests. It is important to emphasize that Intel’s XE-based discrete GPUs, such as the Intel Arc graphics cards, exhibit a remarkable difference in performance compared to the company’s built-in graphics found in Intel Core™ processors. While the integrated GPUs typically provide password recovery speeds that are two to three times faster than the Intel CPU they are integrated with, the dedicated graphics cards from Intel offer significantly higher performance. In fact, Intel Arc graphics cards can be directly compared to mid-range NVIDIA RTX boards, trailing the NVIDIA boards in sheer performance but surpassing them by a considerable margin in terms of price-performance ratio.

We tested the performance of an Intel Arc A380 graphics card in Elcomsoft Wireless Security Auditor, which became the first ElcomSoft tool to receive support for Intel’s new graphics cards. Wireless Security Auditor is an all-in-one tool to help administrators verify how secure the company’s wireless network is. The tool will attempt to break into a secured Wi-Fi network by analyzing the wireless environment, intercepting Wi-Fi traffic and running a GPU-accelerated attack on the network’s WPA/WPA2-PSK password for a pre-defined amount of time.

To illustrate this, let’s consider the performance comparison of Intel’s basic Arc A380 graphics card with older NVIDIA RTX 2070 and higher-end NVIDIA RTX 3070 Ti cards. The Arc A380 delivers approximately 50% of the speed of the NVIDIA RTX 2070 and about one-third of the speed of the NVIDIA RTX 3070 Ti. However, what sets Intel’s Arc graphics cards apart is their competitive pricing. The NVIDIA RTX 3070 Ti has a manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) of $599, while the Intel Arc A380 is priced at a mere $115. This significant price difference demonstrates that Intel’s new Arc graphics cards offer superior performance per dollar compared to the competition.

As to comparing the performance of any discrete GPU with the performance of classic CPU cores, even the most basic Intel Arc A380 board that costs some $120 is 6.5 faster compared to Intel Core i7-12700 CPU equipped with 8 performance cores and 4 efficiency cores (20 threads). This demonstrates that password recovery should not be used on CPU-only computers as even the cheapest discrete video card beats even the fastest CPUs by a significant margin.

Taking the performance analysis further, let’s approximate the performance numbers for Intel Arc A750 ($249) and A770 ($349) graphics cards. The A770 theoretically delivers performance similar to that of the non-Ti NVIDIA RTX 4070, which has an MSRP of $599. This approximation indicates that the Intel Arc A770 provides a 1.7x benefit in terms of price-performance ratio compared to the higher-priced NVIDIA counterpart.

Overall, Intel’s journey in dedicated GPU development has led to the introduction of the Intel Arc graphics cards, which provide a significant leap in performance compared to their integrated graphics solutions. These cards offer a compelling option for users seeking efficient password recovery acceleration while maintaining an attractive price-performance balance.


GPU acceleration, particularly with Intel Arc graphics cards, offers a game-changing approach to password recovery, enabling faster and more efficient attacks. By utilizing the massively parallel processing power of GPUs, experts can significantly reduce the time required to recover passwords, while IT security specialists can audit and strengthen the security of their wireless networks by eliminating weak passwords that can be recovered quickly by an attacker. Intel’s new discrete GPUs offer unbeatable performance for the price, delivering higher password recovery rates per dollar spent on GPU acceleration hardware. After testing an Intel Arc A380 board, we’ve been impressed by the performance it delivers, which must be viewed in the context of the card’s rock bottom price compared to competition.


Elcomsoft Wireless Security Auditor

Audit security of your wireless networks and recover WPA/WPA2 passwords with Elcomsoft Wireless Security Auditor. In addition to the CPU-only mode, the new wireless password recovery tool features a patented GPU acceleration technology to speed up password recovery. Elcomsoft Wireless Security Auditor targets the human factor with smart attacks, combining dictionary attacks with an advanced variation facility. The tool accepts standard tcpdump logs supported by any Wi-Fi sniffer.

Elcomsoft Wireless Security Auditor official web page & downloads »