We covered AMD ads on Ryzen and Navi during E3 throughout the week. We still have an aspect of the situation to discuss. We discussed Navi and its RDNA architecture, but we did not discuss any of the software enhancements that AMD plans to offer with its next GPUs. Some of these gains will also be available for GCN cards.
Let's talk about some features and improvements.
First, there are the quality of life gains generated by AMD's Radeon software. With Navi, the system automatically switches your TV to low latency game mode, if the display supports one. You will be able to save the settings to separate the files and reimport them if you need to install the driver completely from scratch or if you reinstall your entire operating system. Some improvements have also been made to the way WattMan reports its results.
The AMD Link streaming application now supports streaming on TVs, including Apple and Android TV. VR wireless streaming is now supported as well. These enhancements are not associated with any specific GPUs.
Radeon Chill is AMD technology to reduce the power consumption of GPUs during games. The software can now set frame rate limits on 60Hz screens to reduce the number of images rendered when you do not actively control your character due to your afk.
The AMD footnote on Radeon Chill deserves to be read. Under the right circumstances, this can significantly reduce the power consumption of the graphics processor, although this has an impact on the rate, and the total size of the gain varies from one title to the other. Any graphics processor that previously used Radeon Chill can take advantage of these enhancements.
Then, Radeon anti-lag. According to AMD, the company has invented a method to reduce the time between the moment you press a button in a game and the one where you see the results. To do this, some CPU jobs are delayed to ensure that they occur simultaneously alongside the GPU rather than being completed in advance.
Honestly, I can not say that I have observed a difference between the activation of Radeon Anti-Lag and its deactivation. AMD demonstrated that the effect worked with custom-built latency monitors attached to displays, and I think the company on which the monitor I tested had slightly higher latency. I am at an age when motor reflexes have already begun to decline, and if I am honest, I have never been a very good twitch player.
In the best case, this feature reduces your total latency by a few milliseconds. If you are good enough to compete in these spaces, it could be worth something. This is not something I feel able to comment on.
The anti-lag is supported in DX11 on all AMD GPUs. Support for DX9 games is a Navi-only feature. DX12 games are currently not supported because of the extremely different implementation requirements in this API.
Radeon Image Sharpening is a feature that combines adaptive contrast sharpness with the use of GPU resizing techniques to improve the quality of the base image without the need for a native 4K rendering penalty. The following slides compare RIS enabled or disabled.
RIS is disabled in the slide above.
RIS is enabled in this slide. The effect is very subtle. You may want to open the two images above in separate tabs, zoom in carefully, and then compare the final product. Although there is a clear improvement in the IQ in the picture "ON", it is a small one.
Nevertheless, small improvements to IQ are generally welcome. RIS was also designed by Timothy Lottes, who worked on FXAA at Nvidia. The use of this feature should not affect performance (the impact on performance is estimated at 1% or less). RIS is a Navi-only feature and is only supported by DX12 and DX9.
Finally, there is FidelityFX.
FidelityFX is AMD's new addition to GPUOpen. It is offered to any developer wishing to take advantage of it. Adaptive Contrast Sharpness can be used on any GPU if developers want it.
Some extra hardware details on Navi that were not in the previous articles, but probably should have (a frenetic briefing schedule and some scrambled note taking):
AMD plans to maintain GCN GPUs on the market to manage HPC workloads. The AMD engineer we spoke to compared GCN to an extremely efficient sword was it balanced properly, but that it was relatively tedious to use, while RDNA was more of a lightsaber in terms of concentration on elegance and the economy of movement. GPUs such as the MI50 and MI60 also offer much larger memory bandwidth and larger memory pools than any of the Navi cards coming on the market.
The RDNA should eventually replace the GCN in this space and correct some of the slow path anomalies that the GCN suffers. Irregular performance with some texture formats has been corrected, for example, and the RDNA has larger caches to prevent bubbles in the pipeline. Overall performance should be more predictable with rDNA-derived GPUs than with GCN.
There is nothing new in these details, but I thought to include them for the sake of completeness. This concludes our E3 coverage.