As we seek ways to optimize performance in the PC world, it is important to remember that results are impacted by three things: the underlying hardware, the software running on that hardware, and the device driver.

 

While enhancements to any one of these can boost performance, the greatest return is made possible when these elements are improved simultaneously and optimized for each other. That is why we at AMD are so committed to strategic software relationships. These long term investments support the development of key operating system, tools, and applications that result in a continuous stream of benefits, some obvious and some subtle.


Probably none are clearer than those derived from the decades-long collaboration between AMD and Microsoft. This relationship often delivers clear advantages--the adoption by Microsoft of AMD64 as its 64-bit extension for Windows and all x86-64 CPU products certainly stands out. That collaboration advanced both the performance and capability of the PC platform, a goal which continues to drive the alliance between AMD and Microsoft.

 

With today's release of Windows 8.1, we are able to shine the spotlight on some updated benefits. Thanks to the dedicated AMD technical staff that works on site alongside critical developers and product groups at Microsoft, we are already seeing some nice performance gains over the previous Windows release. In fact, we are seeing up to 9.5% better performance on the same hardware1!

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So from where does that uplift come? Our work with Microsoft includes development on the essential operating system "plumbing" that enables Windows to directly leverage AMD technology in order to run more efficiently. The two companies also cooperate on the development and tuning of the latest AMD video drivers.

 

Of course AMD's fast CPU and GPU cores contribute to high performance, but having software that is optimized to take advantage of the AMD hardware architecture is a significant advantage. Tuning our device drivers to simultaneously suit AMD hardware, software applications, and Windows 8.1 makes systems more streamlined. Take a look at some of the results that are available from day one with Windows 8.1 on AMD-based PCs versus our competition2:

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We are seeing great results across our product stack – see below  for PCMark 8 Home Test, 3DMark Firestrike, and BasemarkCL 1.0.1 scores on range of AMD and Intel products on Windows 8.13:

 

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Note that in addition to delivering great overall performance on AMD-based PCs, Windows 8.1 also includes Internet Explorer 11 with support for WebGL™ to enable additional experiences accelerated by AMD APUs and GPUs.  With the emerging WebGL web standard, web developers can create new kinds of 2D and 3D experiences by programming the GPU directly to quickly render complex 3D objects and scenes. AMD collaborates with Microsoft in this area to deliver optimized WebGL performance.

 

With a new OS release, you also expect to see new features. Let’s take a look at a particularly exciting one: the AMD Wireless Display feature that is built using Windows 8.1’s support for Miracast technology. Last month, we gave you a preview of this technology (see http://community.amd.com/community/amd-blogs/amd/blog/2013/09/12/a-preview-of-amd-wireless-display-in-windows-81)

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AMD Wireless Display and Windows 8.1

 

Prior to Windows 8.1 and Miracast, wireless display solutions required custom, vendor-specific support on both the PC and on the display side. As a result, the availability of PCs that could support wireless displays was limited to relatively few suppliers and models. In addition, vendors lacked standardized tools to test for performance and interoperability. Performance suffered as well. In particular, wireless display solutions have lacked the low latency required for a great experience with graphically intense programs where one is interacting with a human input device such as a mouse – games are the obvious example, but so are many popular creative and productivity applications such as photo or video editing/organization software. And of course AMD Wireless Display is also optimized to handle video playback and general productivity applications with ease.

 

Similar to a decade ago when AMD worked with Microsoft and its ecosystem partners to enable the benefits of 64-bit computing across form factors and segments from top to bottom, today the companies are collaborating to advance the wireless display space. AMD’s collaboration with Microsoft on native Miracast has focused on following three key elements:

 

  1. Architectural definition and implementation—the goal is to eliminate customization requirements that previously had to be tailored for each PC’s networking components and graphics subsystem. This simplifies things for PC makers who can now “mix and match” graphics and networking solutions. Broad support for Miracast across AMD-based products that are shipping today means many more PC models will deliver wireless display support.
  2. Ecosystem support–working with network component makers on the PC side, as well as display manufacturers and component makers to enable solid interoperability and performance backed by recommendations, support tools and test cases now available from both Microsoft and AMD.
  3. Low latency solution enablement–AMD worked with Microsoft to enable Miracast to leverage the built-in low latency display encode path that are part of AMD Radeon™ and AMD APU products that support the AMD Advanced Video Converter (also known under the engineering codename of Video Codec Engine or VCE). This is exciting because it is designed to enable a responsive user experience even when interacting with performance hungry, graphically intense software such as high end games.

 

Our goal is to not only enable broad support for wireless display across AMD-based PC models, but to make it so effective that the fact that a display is wirelessly connected is virtually unnoticeable to the end user, even in demanding situations such as high-end gaming and other interactive, rich graphical applications. Such advantages are made possible through the close cooperation during development that is a key tenet of the AMD and Microsoft relationship.

 

I have seen a lot during my 25+ years at AMD and have had the opportunity to watch the partnership between Microsoft and AMD flourish throughout that time. While many changes have come about during that time, certain things remain the same including our commitments to great, leading edge technology, customer-centric innovations, and long-term dedication to our software technology partners. For me, the fun is being able to see firsthand some of the enhanced performance and capabilities we are enabling with our software partners. Stay tuned for more updates on exciting developments with our software partners and the benefits we are enabling.

 

Resources:

 

Clarice Simmons is a Senior Marketing Manager at AMD. Her postings are her own opinions and may not represent AMD’s positions, strategies or opinions. Links to third party sites, and references to third party trademarks, are provided for convenience and illustrative purposes only. Unless explicitly stated, AMD is not responsible for the contents of such links, and no third party endorsement of AMD or any of its products is implied.

 

1 - AMD tests are performed on optimized AMD reference systems. PC manufacturers may vary their configuration yielding different results. A desktop PC with AMD A10-6800K APU with AMD Radeon™ HD 8670D Graphics, 2x4GB DDR3-1800 RAM, SSD hard drive, scored 3609 on PCMark 8 (v.1.0.1) Home Test on Windows 8 with video driver 13.101.0.0 – 03-JUN-2013; 3826 on Windows 8 with video driver 13.200.11.0 – 03-SEP-2013;  3953 on Windows 8.1 with  video driver 13.200.11.0 – 03-SEP-2013.

 

2 - AMD tests are performed on optimized AMD reference systems. PC manufacturers may vary their configuration yielding different results. A desktop PC with AMD A10-6800K APU with AMD Radeon™ HD 8670D Graphics, 2x4GB DDR3-1800 RAM, video driver 13.200.11.0 - 03-Sep-2013 achieved the following results: BasemarkCL 1.0.1 overall score 59.34; 3Mark for Win 8 overall scores: FireStrikeX 520.67, FireStrike 1085.25, Cloud Gate 6267.5; 3DMark 11 overall scores: extreme 497.5, performance 1683.5, entry 2795.75; PCMark 8 (v.1.0.1) Home Test 3690. A desktop PC with Intel Core i5-4670K with Intel HD 4600 graphics, 2x4GB DDR3-1800 RAM, video driver 10.18.10.3282 - 25-Aug-2013 achieved the following results: BasemarkCL 1.0.1 overall score 52.42; 3Mark for Win 8 overall scores: FireStrikeX 356, FireStrike 784.25, Ice Storm 55590.67; 3DMark 11 overall scores: extreme 358, performance 1318.5, entry 2517; PCMark 8 (v.1.0.1) Home Test 3549. Both systems the same 7200 RPM hard drive for PCMark 8 (v.1.0.1) Home Test, the same SSD hard drive for all the other tests, and Windows 8.1 (x64) for all tests.

 

3 - AMD tests are performed on optimized AMD reference systems. PC manufacturers may vary their configuration yielding different results. PCMark 8 Home Test, BasemarkCL 1.0.1 overall score, and 3DMark FireStrike benchmarks were run on desktop PCs with Windows 8.1, 2x4GB DDR3-1800 RAM, 7200 RPM hard drive and achieved the following: The config with AMD A10-6800K APU with AMD Radeon™ HD 8670D Graphics scored 3690 for PCMark, 1104 for Firestrike, 59 for BasemarkCL; the config with AMD A10-6790K APU with AMD Radeon™ HD 8670D Graphics scored 3593 for PCMark, 1025 for Firestrike, 57 for BasemarkCL; the config with AMD A8-6600K APU with AMD Radeon™ HD 8570D Graphics scored 3576 for PCMark, 864 for Firestrike, 47  for BasemarkCL; the config with AMD A6-6400K  APU with AMD Radeon™ HD 8470D Graphics scored 3106 for PCMark, 588 for Firestrike, 38 for BasemarkCL; the config with Intel Core i5-4670K with Intel HD 4600 graphics scored 3549 for PCMark8, 784 for Firestrike; 52 for BasemarkCL; the config with Intel Core i5-4430 with Intel HD 4600 graphics scored 3300 for PCMark8, 754 for Firestrike; 48 for BasemarkCL; the config with Intel Core i3-4340 with Intel HD 4600 graphics scored 3124 for PCMark8, 730 for Firestrike; 52 for BasemarkCL; the config with Intel Pentium G3430 with Intel HD graphics scored 3124 for PCMark8, 410 for Firestrike; 27 for BasemarkCL.

 

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