Details of AMD’s yearly major software update to their driver suite has been leaked to the web. If you remember AMD released Catalyst Omega in 2014 and Crimson Edition in 2015, now for 2016 this release is being called “Crimson ReLive”. The major update is said to bring a lot of features and performance improvements across the board.
Since being formed the Radeon Software division has released 29 drivers of which 8 were WHQL releases, with support and optimizations for over 28 gaming titles, having been downloaded over 85 million times. AMD really seems to care about consumer satisfaction with their driver releases as we can see a slide showing a 4.5 out of 5 consumer rating. Another slide has the quote “More gamers play on Radeon graphics than Intel and NVIDIA combined.” This claim of course includes game consoles, not just PCs.
AMD is really behind their GPUOpen open software approach and is really banking on it to create interest among developers. AMD will be updating and introducing quite a few new technologies in this new software release. New features will include Radeon Loom, which allows you to stitch up to 360º photos at an up to 8K x 4K mode, Open Capture and Analytics Tool (OCAT) for benchmarking (with support for DX11, DX12 and Vulkan), a Depth of Field focus tool with low performance impact for DX12, Tress FX 4.0 and support for Advanced Media Framework 1.4, improving support for the H265 format.
When it comes to VR AMD is improving LiquidVR by allowing Multi-GPU affinity to take place so as to improve performance up to 20x versus a single graphics adapter, multi-view rendering for lower processing overhead, and MultiRes Rendering (equivalent to NVIDIA’s Multi-Res Shading seen i Shadow Warrior 2), as well as support for TrueAudio Next in Liquid VR environments, with dynamically-derived real-times physics being embedded on sound calculations, for truly immersive surround sounds.
AMD is claiming that on the performance side Radeon cards like the RX 480 will see up to an 8% performance increase with ReLive, compared to software version 16.9.2. AMD also points out their quality assurance, features, and stability with 25% more overall QA and manual and automated test efforts.
AMD will be adding a signal detection utility in their drivers which allows users to detect bad HDMI cable and signals for diagnostics. There’s a new VP9 Decode acceleration offering seamless and fluid 4K 60 Hz video streaming with support for both Dolby Vision and HDR 10, thus offering increased brightness, contrast and color. Support for the latest DisplayPort HBR3 has been added in the drivers, allowing for single-link 4K 120 Hz, 5K 60 Hz and 8K 30 Hz rates. FreeSync is seeing some improvements, with up to 24% lower click-to-response time on borderless full-screen mode.
The driver suite will have improved looks and a more streamlined interface. There will be clean install support, an upgrade advisor, and a “user feedback” interface which will allow users to vote on new features and priority of issues to be fixed.
One of the more interesting features in the new ReLive drivers is Radeon Chill. This is a new power-saving feature that dynamically regulates frame-rate based on in-game movement. In AMD’s tests Radeon Chill features up to 31% lower average GPU power, while also lowering temperatures, which results in improving efficiency.
Radeon Chill should help out with input-to-response lag compared to a system running without Radeon Chill. By not running the game loop as fast as possible at all times, Radeon Chill doesn’t keep the GPU’s queues as full. When Radeon Chill does decide to dispatch a frame, the GPU can be ready and waiting to produce that frame very quickly, with little or no work scheduled ahead of it. As a result, Radeon Chill can sometimes reduce input lag. In one example taken from World of Warcraft, the FPS average is measurably higher with Radeon Chill turned off, at 125 FPS, versus 62 FPS with Radeon Chill enabled. In spite of that, the time to display each frame with Radeon Chill enabled (as measured with PresentMon or OCAT) is actually lower for the reasons described above. In cases with the most potential for lag, at the 99th percentile, the system with Radeon Chill enabled delivers frames in substantially less time than the system without Radeon Chill. Radeon Chill will initially work with a list of whitelisted games – apparently, they’re manually selected so as to guarantee compatibility, with popular games such as Overwatch, Counter-Strike, and Paragon being supported at the time of the software release.
The name ReLive gets its name from the new application within the software called ReLive. It is a streaming app that works for both developer and consumer use cases. It has support for major streaming sites (Twitch, YouTube) and includes an in-app toolbar and custom overlay. It will have its own tab inside the updated driver suite.
The new AMD Radeon Crimson ReLive Edition will be officially available December 8th at 9AM EST.