Skip navigation

Gaming

May 2015 Previous month Next month

Just between StarCraft II, League of Legends, DOTA 2 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, over 75 million gamers log on to play PC games virtually every day.1 If you’re looking to join their ranks, you’ll need a desktop that can keep up with the demands of the games. In this blog we’ll show you how to do exactly that with a couple of options all based around the new AMD A10-7870K APU.

 

THE ULTIMATE BUILD
Our mission: assemble a great desktop PC around the new AMD A10-7870K. To do that, we went to PCPartPicker and lined up a fast AMD Radeon™ GPU, eight gigs of RAM, an SSD, 1TB of mass storage, a solid power supply and a well-respected case.  We also went one step further to ensure that our budget also includes a monitor, keyboard, mouse and operating system. You’ll have everything you’ll need to get up and running!

PART

PRICE

AMD A10-7870K

$137†

AMD Radeon™ R9 285

$162.98

Asus A88X-PRO

$86.99

G. Skill Ripjaws X Series (8GB DDR3-2133)

$62.99

Western Digital RE3 1TB HDD

$44.00

Samsung 850 EVO (120GB)

$68.98

Corsair 200R Case

$47.99

Corsair CX600 PSU

$44.99

Windows 8.1 x64

$89.95

ASUS MG279Q Monitor

$599

Corsair Raptor K30 Keyboard

$58.99

Razer DeathAdder Mouse

$41.00

TOTAL

$1444.86*

* Prices current in US dollars as of 12 May, 2015, PCPartPicker
†AMD suggested retail price as of 12 May, 2015

In the world of PC gaming, 30 frames per second (“FPS”) is widely considered the lower threshold for “playable,” or the point where motion in a game becomes fluid enough for play without distraction. Higher is generally better from there, but many gamers strive beat that threshold with a 1920x1080 display, which can display about 2 million pixels of information at any one time.

 

Our system has a larger 2560x1440 monitor, capable of showing 3.6 million pixels for a bigger, sharper and more detailed image. A bigger picture definitely demands additional performance from the PC, but the rig we’ve assembled effortlessly races past the 30 FPS threshold on every one of these hugely popular games.

 

1440p285.PNG
System Configuration: AMD-A10 7870K, AMD Radeon™ R9 285, Asus A88X-PRO, 8GB DDR3-2133, AMD Catalyst™ 14.502, Windows 8.1 x64 Professional, 2560x1440 resolution. All games tested with the ultra quality in-game preset.

 

THE SECRET SAUCE: AMD FREESYNC™ TECHNOLOGY

The charts are clear: our build is a total powerhouse in some seriously popular games. But what the numbers can’t show you is how smooth these games feel thanks to AMD FreeSync™ technology.

 

AMD FreeSync™ technology is a solution we developed to synchronize the GPU and the monitor to ensure unbelievably fluid gaming. Not every gaming PC can say the same, but keeping these components in lockstep ensures that your gaming experience won’t be haunted by infamous PC gaming issues like stuttering or tearing.

 

 

This is a technology that works with any PC game on the planet, and can only be found on select AMD products like the AMD Radeon™ R9 285 GPU or the AMD A10-7870K APU.

 

HOW ABOUT $1000?

We hear you.  Not every gamer has the dosh to plop down $1400 on a gaming PC, so we picked parts that could easily be adjusted to fit different budgets.

 

PART

PRICE

AMD A10-7870K

$137†

AMD Radeon™ R9 285

$162.98

Asus A88X-PRO

$86.99

G. Skill Ripjaws X Series (8GB DDR3-2133)

$62.99

Western Digital RE3 1TB HDD

$44.00

Corsair 200R Case

$47.99

Corsair CX600 PSU

$44.99

Windows 8.1 x64

$89.95

Acer K242HL Monitor

$149.89

Corsair Raptor K30 Keyboard

$58.99

Razer DeathAdder Mouse

$41.00

TOTAL

$926.77*

* Prices current in US dollars as of 12 May, 2015, PCPartPicker
†AMD suggested retail price as of 12 May, 2015

 

As we move downward, we have to sacrifice some amenities, though. To reach our new price we had to drop the SSD and our 3.6 million-pixel monitor with AMD FreeSync™. We still need a monitor, though, so we swapped the ASUS MG279Q for a 1080p display: the Acer K242HL. The K242HL is a well-rated display without AMD FreeSync™ for just $149.892, bringing the price of your new system to around $900 US.

 

1080p285.PNG

System Configuration: AMD-A10 7870K, AMD Radeon™ R9 285, Asus A88X-PRO, 8GB DDR3-2133, AMD Catalyst™ 14.502, Windows 8.1 x64 Professional, 1920x1080 resolution. All games tested with the ultra quality in-game preset.

 

Losing the buttery smooth gameplay of AMD FreeSync™ is a definite bummer, but you’re still getting >60 average FPS at max settings thanks to the AMD A10-7870K and the AMD Radeon™ R9 285 GPU.

 

OKAY, HOW ABOUT $700?

The next step in bringing great gaming to an even more attractive price lies in taking out the AMD Radeon™ R9 285 GPU and scaling back our mouse/keyboard combo. Now our system tips the scales at a cool 712 bucks, which is less than half of the original price of our system. There’s no way we can play these games at high settings, right?

 

PART

PRICE

AMD A10-7870K

$137

Asus A88X-PRO

$86.99

G. Skill Ripjaws X Series (8GB DDR3-2133)

$62.99

Western Digital RE3 1TB HDD

$44.00

Corsair 200R Case

$47.99

Corsair CX600 PSU

$44.99

Windows 8.1 x64

$89.95

Acer K242HL Monitor

$149.89

Cooler Master CM Storm Devastator Bundle

$28.99

TOTAL

$692.79*

* Prices current in US dollars as of 12 May, 2015, PCPartPicker
†AMD suggested retail price as of 12 May, 2015

 

Wrong! The numbers don’t lie: the powerful little AMD A10-7870K is still running well over 30 FPS at high to maximum settings across these four hugely popular games.

 

1080p.PNG

System Configuration: AMD-A10 7870K, Asus A88X-PRO, 8GB DDR3-2133, AMD Catalyst™ 14.502, Windows 8.1 x64 Professional, 1920x1080 resolution.

 

EVEN MORE VALUE

From budgets spanning $700-1450, the AMD A10-7870K is more than capable of powering an awesome gaming experience on four killer games played by more than 75,000,000 other gamers. But, truth be told, you might be able to squeeze out an even better budget. Maybe you already have a monitor? That’s at least $140 in your pocket. Maybe you already have a mouse and keyboard? Boom, $30 in your pocket. Already have a copy of Windows®? Boom, 89 greenbacks right into your pocket.

 

All of those changes could bring the price down to around $425 for a well-appointed gaming PC that’ll get you in these games with great image quality. Plus, you’ll be ready for DirectX® 12, too!

 

That’s the power of the A10-7870K APU, now available from AMD.

 

Robert Hallock is the Head of Global Technical Marketing at AMD. His postings are his own opinions and may not represent AMD’s positions, strategies or opinions. Links to third party sites are provided for convenience and unless explicitly stated, AMD is not responsible for the contents of such linked sites and no endorsement is implied.

 


FOOTNOTES

1. StarCraft 2: 145,555 players as of 12 May, 2015 (sc2ranks.com). DOTA2: 10,731,620 players as of 12 May, 2015 (dota2.com). League of Legends: 67,000,000 players as of 12 May, 2015 (riotgames.com). Counter-Strike: Global Offensive: 577,186 players as of 12 May, 2015 (steamcharts.com).

2. Price current in USD on Amazon.com as of 12 May, 2015.

“Integration” is the great quest in the PC industry, and it is the idea that we can simultaneously make devices smaller, faster and more functional over time. The steady and relentless march of integration has fueled incredible advancements in mobility, discourse, politics, society, education and so much more. Integration must and will continue: the appetite for smaller, faster, better devices shows no sign of slowing. But there are some challenges on the horizon, and it is now clearer than ever that radical new technologies like High-Bandwidth Memory (HBM) can be the answer.

 

However, in order to truly understand the need for HBM, we must first spend just a few minutes exploring the history of integration itself.

 

A FEW WORDS ON TRANSISTORS

All integrated circuits, like a processor or graphics chip, are built from basic building blocks called the “transistor.” These transistors electrically switch between “on” and “off” to represent binary 1s and 0s.  Together a legion of these transistors organized in specific ways can perform the math necessary to make your device do whatever you're asking it to do.

 

Across the decades, engineering advancements have allowed us to fit thousands, then millions, then billions of these transistors into the small space of a processor or graphics chip. That increasing transistor density has afforded more performance, along with opportunity for chipmakers like AMD to do away with other bulky devices by integrating them into the chip too.

 

integration.png
IN 2011: integration through increasing transistor density allowed AMD to combine a northbridge, quad core CPU and a graphics card into just one chip: the AMD A-Series APU. This one chip used up to 39% less power and 39% less space than the standalone pieces it replaced.

 

Over the decades, these engineering advancements have also been pretty darn predictable. So predictable, in fact, that we have a name for it: Moore’s Law. During his time at Fairchild Semiconductor, Gordon E. Moore famously predicted in 1965 that integrated circuits (like CPUs and GPUs) would double in density every 12 months. Moore later revised that to every 24 months in 1975, and his revised observation has generally rung true for the past 40 years as innovators like AMD find new and exciting ways to pack more transistors in ever-smaller spaces.

 

CHALLENGES TO INTEGRATION

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Moore’s Law, and integration is facing at least one challenge: off-chip technologies ripe for integration, like DRAM, are not size or cost-effective. However, there are significant performance, power and form factor benefits to integration, so another method of achieving that integration must be explored.

 

integration2.png

Moore conceptually envisioned a possible solution, and offered the following insight in the same 1965 paper that established Moore’s Law.

 

“It may prove to be more economical to build large systems out of smaller functions, which are separately packaged and interconnected," he wrote. "The availability of large functions, combined with functional design and construction, should allow the manufacturer of large systems to design and construct a considerable variety of equipment both rapidly and economically.”

 

A LARGE SYSTEM OF SMALLER FUNCTIONS

HBM is a new type of CPU/GPU memory (“RAM”) that vertically stacks memory chips, like floors in a skyscraper. Those towers connect to the CPU or GPU through an ultra-fast interconnect called the “interposer.” Much like sticking those famously colorful building blocks into that famous green base, several stacks of HBM are plugged into the interposer alongside a CPU or GPU, and that assembled module connects to a circuit board.

interposer.png

Though these HBM stacks are not physically integrated with the CPU or GPU, they are so closely and quickly connected via the interposer that HBM’s characteristics are nearly indistinguishable from on-die integrated RAM.

 

JUST THINK SMALL

GDDR5 has served the industry well these past seven years, and many gigabytes of this memory technology are used on virtually every high-performance graphics card to date.

 

But as graphics chips grow faster, their appetite for fast delivery of information (“bandwidth”) continues to increase. GDDR5’s ability to satisfy those bandwidth demands is beginning to wane as the technology reaches the limits of its specification. Each additional gigabyte per second of bandwidth is beginning to consume too much power to be a wise, efficient, or cost-effective decision for designers or consumers.

curve.png

Taken to its logical conclusion, GDDR5 could easily begin to stall the continued performance growth of graphics chips. HBM resets the clock on memory power efficiency, offering >3.5X the bandwidth per watt of GDDR5 with both superior bandwidth and lower power consumption.1

efficiency.PNG

Consider also the sheer area taken up by GDDR5. Whereas 1GB of GDDR5 on a graphics card might require 672 square millimeters of room on a circuit board, the same quantity of HBM requires just 35 square millimeters of space—a 94% space savings.3 For now we ask that you imagine the possibilities of a product no longer governed by the size and quantity of its memory chips, or all the power circuitry required to get them up to speed.

size.PNG

 

FOR THE GOOD OF ALL OF US

High-Bandwidth Memory and the high-volume manufacturable interposer are technologies invented and proposed by AMD over seven years ago. We have spent the ensuing years gaining expert allies in the interconnect and memory technology industries to help us perfect, manufacture, and standardize the technology for use across the PC industry.

 

SK hynix is one of those allies, and their memory manufacturing techniques have helped miniaturize and package key aspects of the memory to make it suitable for cost-effective mass production. With HBM, SK Hynix has once again proven a leader in the manufacture of cutting-edge memory technology.

 

We also owe gratitude to ASE, Amkor and UMC, who were instrumental in the realization of our initial interposer design. Though interposers are not a new technology, an interposer suitable for interconnecting HBM and high-performance ASICs is new, and years of work were required to reach mass production.

 

The JEDEC Solid State Technology Association is another key ally. This consortium of 300+ engineering and silicon design firms (like AMD) helps standardize specifications, implementation and testing of new memory technologies like HBM. JEDEC’s specialty is in open standards, which permit any and all companies to freely manufacture a technology if they follow the letter and the spirit of the standard.

 

AMD strongly believes in contributing revolutionary new technologies to the world as open industry standards. The proliferation of AMD proposals like GDDR5, DisplayPort™ Adaptive-Sync, HSA, low-overhead graphics APIs and Wake-on-LAN (to name a few) are evidence of this. HBM is the latest entry to this rich history of open innovation and, with JEDEC specification JESD235, High-Bandwidth Memory is now freely available to all JEDEC members.

 

LOOKING TO THE FUTURE

Thanks to nearly a decade of engineering work by AMD and its technology partners, HBM and the interposer smash through the power, performance and form factor boundaries erected by GDDR5. The way is paved for more compact high-performance devices for years to come! We’re thrilled to announce that you won’t have to wait very long to bring  into your home, either. HBM and the future of chip design will be available in an AMD product as soon as this summer.

 

Robert Hallock is the Head of Global Technical Marketing at AMD. His postings are his own opinions and may not represent AMD’s positions, strategies or opinions. Links to third party sites are provided for convenience and unless explicitly stated, AMD is not responsible for the contents of such linked sites and no endorsement is implied.

 


FOOTNOTES:

1. Testing conducted by AMD engineering on the AMD Radeon™ R9 290X GPU vs. an HBM-based device. Data obtained through isolated direct measurement of GDDR5 and HBM power delivery rails at full memory utilization. Power efficiency calculated as GB/s of bandwidth delivered per watt of power consumed. AMD Radeon™ R9 290X (10.66 GB/s bandwidth per watt) and HBM-based device (35+ GB/s bandwidth per watt), AMD FX-8350, Gigabyte GA-990FX-UD5, 8GB DDR3-1866, Windows 8.1 x64 Professional, AMD Catalyst™ 15.20 Beta. HBM-1

2. Testing conducted by AMD engineering on the AMD Radeon™ R9 290X GPU vs. an HBM-based device. Data obtained through isolated direct measurement of GDDR5 and HBM power delivery rails at full memory utilization.  AMD Radeon™ R9 290X and HBM-based device, AMD FX-8350, Gigabyte GA-990FX-UD5, 8GB DDR3-1866, Windows 8.1 x64 Professional, AMD Catalyst™ 15.20 Beta. HBM-3

3. Measurements conducted by AMD Engineering on 1GB GDDR5 (4x256MB ICs) @ 672mm2 vs. 1GB HBM (1x4-Hi) @ 35mm2. HBM-2


As the PC graphics industry continues down the path of low-overhead graphics APIs, today I wanted to bring you some new details on two significant features of DirectX® 12. These features are called “multi-threaded command buffer recording” and “async shaders,” and they are poised to make a significant difference for gamers everywhere. Let’s take a look at what they do and why they matter.

 

ASYNC SHADERS

This feature allows a game engine to execute GPU compute or memory activities during “gaps” in the graphics workload presented by a game.

While it seems sensible to allow the graphics, compute and memory functions of a GPU to operate simultaneously, past versions of DirectX® did not provide for this functionality. Past versions of DirectX® were essentially limited to a single, serial graphics queue for processing all types of workloads. Therefore graphics, compute and memory copy operations had to wait for other parts of the graphics queue to finish processing before springing to life and doing their work. This would often result in idle hardware for some portions of time, and idle hardware is squandered performance.

 

Pipeline_behavior.gif

 

In contrast, DirectX® 12 Async Shaders supercharge work completion in a compatible AMD Radeon™ GPU by interleaving these tasks across multiple threads to shorten overall render time. Async Shaders are materially important to a PC gamer’s experience because shorter rendering times reduce graphics pipeline latency, and lower latency equals greater performance. “Performance” can mean higher framerates in gameplay and better responsiveness in VR environments. Further, finer levels of granularity in breaking up the workload can yield even greater reductions in work time. As they say: work smarter, not harder.

 

 

 

 

Finally, it must be understood that AMD’s Graphics Core Next architecture is specifically equipped to enable incredibly fine DirectX® 12 Async Shader granularity with dedicated hardware known as the Asynchronous Compute Engine (ACE). Many ACEs serve as fundamental building blocks in modern AMD graphics hardware, and they are specifically tuned to accommodate significant parallelization of complex jobs with superb performance.

 

Hawaii-Block-Diagram.jpg

 

This diagram of the AMD Radeon™ R9 290X GPU’s architecture shows eight Asynchronous Compute Engines (ACEs) ready to handle Async Shader work. Each AMD product based on GCN has a certain amount of these ACEs.

 

MULTI-THREADED COMMAND BUFFER RECORDING

The command buffer is a game’s “to-do list,” a list of things that the CPU must reorganize and present to an AMD Radeon™ graphics card so that graphics work can be done. Things on this to-do list might include lighting, placing characters, loading textures, generating reflections and more.

 

Modern PCs often ship with multi-core CPUs like AMD FX processors or AMD A-Series APUs. One notable characteristic of DirectX® 11-based applications is that many of these CPU cores in any multi-core CPU go partially or fully unutilized. This lack of utilization is owed to DirectX® 11’s relative inability to break a game’s command buffer into small, parallel and computationally quick chunks that can be spread across many cores.

 

In addition to modest multi-threading in DirectX® 11, a disproportionate amount of CPU time is frequently spent on driver and API interpretation (“overhead”) under the DirectX® 11 programming model, which leaves lesser time for executing game code that delivers quality and framerates.

 

In DirectX® 12, however, the command buffer behavior is radically overhauled in five key ways:

  1. Overhead is significantly reduced by moving driver and API code to any available CPU thread
  2. The absolute time required to complete complex CPU tasks is notably reduced
  3. Game workloads can be meaningfully distributed across >4 CPU cores
  4. New “bandwidth” on the CPU allows for higher peak draw calls, enabling more detailed and immersive game worlds
  5. All available CPU cores may now “talk” to the graphics card simultaneously

 

Much like going from a two-lane country road to an eight-lane superhighway, the shift to DirectX® 12 allows more traffic from an AMD FX processor to reach the graphics card in a shorter amount of time. The end result: more performance, better image quality, reduced latency, or a blend of all three (as the developer chooses).

 

cmd_buffer_behavior.gif

 

The benefit of this feature is already being seen in real games. Oxide Games and Stardock have collaborated with AMD for Ashes of the Singularity™, an upcoming strategy game that already utilizes all 8 cores of an AMD FX-8370 processor to deliver performance, image quality and resolutions that—in the words of the developer’s CEO Brad Wardell—are “not even a possibility” under DirectX® 11.

 

results.jpg

In other words, platforms with AMD Radeon™ GPU and multi-core AMD CPUs using DirectX® 12 are literally allowing developers to explore game designs previously considered impossible.

 

WRAP-UP

Multi-threaded command buffer recording and async shadersare two big features of the base DirectX® 12 specification, each harboring great potential to extract significantly more performance and image quality out of existing hardware.

 

But many gamers also know that game devs must commit to using a feature before it is seen in the real world—we’re taking care of that. Our collaboration with developers like Oxide/Stardock (and others unannounced) to get cool tech into great games is a guiding light for the AMD Gaming Evolved Program, and we’re already seeing healthy interest in these features. That bodes well for everyone!

 

Before we part ways, you might be interested to know which AMD products are compatible with DirectX® 12. Presuming you’ve installed Windows® 10 Technical Preview Build 10041 (or later) and obtained the latest driver from Windows Update, here’s the list of DirectX® 12-ready AMD components. We think you’ll agree that it’s an excitingly diverse set of products!

 

  • AMD Radeon™ R9 Series graphics
  • AMD Radeon™ R7 Series graphics
  • AMD Radeon™ R5 240 graphics
  • AMD Radeon™ HD 8000 Series graphics for OEM systems (HD 8570 and up)
  • AMD Radeon™ HD 8000M Series graphics for notebooks
  • AMD Radeon™ HD 7000 Series graphics (HD 7730 and up)
  • AMD Radeon™ HD 7000M Series graphics for notebooks (HD 7730M and up)
  • AMD A4/A6/A8/A10-7000 Series APUs (codenamed “Kaveri”)
  • AMD A6/A8/A10 PRO-7000 Series APUs (codenamed “Kaveri”)
  • AMD E1/A4/A10 Micro-6000 Series APUs (codenamed “Mullins”)
  • AMD E1/E2/A4/A6/A8-6000 Series APUs (codenamed “Beema”)



*Originally posted by Robert Hallock in AMD Gaming on Apr 22, 2015 12:17:59 PM

UPDATE: The AMD Radeon™ R9 290X graphics card delivers higher DirectX® 12 performance than the GeForce GTX 980 in independent testing from PC Perspective!

 

ORIGINAL ARTICLE

Today I’m pleased to welcome the 3DMark® API Overhead Feature Test to the world! This powerful extension to the 3DMark® suite lets everyday users compare the performance of different graphics APIs—Mantle, DirectX® 12 and DirectX® 11—on their PC. The early results are very promising for AMD customers, as the promised performance benefits of DirectX® 12 on full display.

 

I understand that not everyone has a few hours to throw at these kinds of tests, however, so let’s jump right into a few data points I’ve collected to illustrate how big these performance jumps really are.

 

PERFORMANCE

First we’ll look at DirectX® 12’s raw ability to ramp GPU throughput, with higher throughput representing new opportunities to put image quality on screen for you. In the new 3DMark® test, DirectX® 12 delivers performance that’s 10-16X its predecessor on AMD Radeon™ R9 and R7 graphics hardware.

 

DX12 HW EFficiency.PNG.png

 

Next I wanted to show you what DirectX® 12 can do for the performance-per-watt of a PC. Using an AMD A-Series APU, the world’s best SoC for DirectX® 12, we see a performance per watt improvement of 511%. In other words, every watt of power consumption just accomplished 6X the work that it could under DirectX® 11.

 

dx12_APU.PNG.png

 

Finally, I wanted to show you just how much better DirectX® 12 is at using multi-core CPUs like the AMD FX-8350. This wildly improved use of such CPUs is due to a feature called multi-threaded command buffer recording, which finally allows a multi-core communication lane between your AMD FX processor and AMD Radeon™ GPU. The graph shows this very clearly, with DirectX® 11 demonstrating no benefit beyond two cores even while DirectX® 12 sees an average uplift of +2.9 million draw calls with every CPU core added up to 6 cores.

 

For obvious reasons, multi-threaded command buffer recording is a defining feature in DirectX® 12 that will have a huge impact on the lives of gamers.

 

mt_scaling.PNG.png

 

THE ROAD TO OPTIMIZATION
The mind-boggling data I’ve collected from the 3DMark API Overhead Feature Test is testament to our passion for DirectX® 12 and its promise as a graphics API.

Our software developers are months into their work with companies, like Futuremark®, who want to make the most of our DirectX® 12-ready Graphics Core Next architecture. While such work is never truly finished, the early results are plainly impressive.

 

There are other factors at work, too!  AMD has been working on “low-overhead” or “console-like” APIs for over three years. During that time, we’ve been working with top game developers to establish best practices for these APIs on AMD hardware. We expect game developers to have a head start in having their games work great on AMD hardware as a result. By no coincidence, console game development is also targeted at AMD hardware with a unique set of low-overhead graphics APIs.

 

Given that DirectX® 12 will be a transformative experience for millions of gamers, it’s important that hardware vendors like AMD have a 360-degree view of the issue. Thankfully, the pervasive nature of the GCN Architecture in the games industry highlights that AMD stands alone with that perspective.


Today’s extraordinary 3DMark® results show that we’re already putting it to good use.

 

Robert Hallock is the Head of Global Technical Marketing at AMD. His postings are his own opinions and may not represent AMD’s positions, strategies or opinions. Links to third party sites are provided for convenience and unless explicitly stated, AMD is not responsible for the contents of such linked sites and no endorsement is implied.

 

FOOTNOTES:

  • Image #1: Core i7-4960X, Asus X79 Sabertooth, 16GB DDR3-1866, Windows 10® 10 Technical Preview 2 (Build 10041), AMD Catalyst™ driver 15.20.1012. DirectX® 11 multi-threaded vs. DirectX® 12 multi-threaded. 3840x2160 resolution.
  • Image #2: AMD A10-7850K, Asus A88X-Pro, 8GB DDR3-1866, Windows® 10 Technical Preview 2 (Build 10041), AMD Catalyst™ driver 15.20.1012. DirectX® 11 multi-threaded vs. DirectX® 12 multi-threaded. 1920x1080 resolution.>
  • Image #3: AMD FX-8350, AMD Radeon™ R9 290X, Gigabyte 990FXA-UD5, 8GB DDR3-1866, Windows® 10 Technical Preview 2 (Build 10041), AMD Catalyst™ driver 15.20.1012. DirectX® 11 multi-threaded vs. DirectX® 12 multi-threaded. 3840x2160 resolution.



*Originally posted by Robert Hallock in AMD Gaming on Mar 26, 2015 8:59:00 AM

No stuttering. No tearing. No extra costs. Just smooth gaming. Those are pretty straightforward and reasonable requests from gamers, right? Today it becomes reality with our latest AMD Catalyst™ driver release. This is our first driver with AMD FreeSync™ technology enabled, and I’m happy to report that there are FreeSync technology-enabled monitors shipping or are about to ship imminently. Should this be your first encounter with AMD FreeSync technology, please make sure you check this out first to learn about how it works! You can also find more information on our website.

 

SPEAKING OF MONITORS

Below you’ll find a chart with all of the AMD FreeSync technology-compatible monitors announced to date. I’ve had the pleasure of playing around with a few of them, and they’re more than worth your consideration. You may prefer the Acer or BenQ’s 1440p models that have a wide refresh rate range (40-144Hz). Alternatively, proponents of IPS panels or ultra-wide aspect ratios would be keen to check out the 29” or 34” options from LG. And more monitors are on their way. Up to 20 monitors supporting AMD FreeSync technology are in the pipe for 2015, in fact!

 

Now, think back to when you saw your first HD video—it was difficult to be satisfied with standard-def content. It was for me, anyhow. That’s how I feel about gaming on AMD FreeSync technology. I always disliked tearing and stuttering, but I couldn’t do much about them with yesterday’s technologies. AMD FreeSync technology changes the game, fixing both tearing and stuttering with smooth gameplay at virtually any framerate. I can now dial up the detail without worrying about whether or not I’m sacrificing smoothness, and I find it difficult to game on normal monitors now.

 

1.png

 

THE DEFINITION OF “FREE”

AMD FreeSync technology costs virtually nothing for a monitor manufacturer to adopt. Most of them already had the relevant components in their supply chains, but needed the right software to come along to expose latent capabilities. With the help of VESA, the DisplayPort Adaptive-Sync specification was born to do exactly that.

 

DisplayPort Adaptive-Sync has no unique material or licensing costs, and AMD FreeSync technology builds on top of that industry standard to give gamers a benefit in all of their games.

 

No licensing. No proprietary hardware. No incremental hardware costs. As some might say: “free as in beer.”

 

All of these savings are reflected in the price tags. Several of the displays announced by our technology partners are up to hundreds cheaper than comparable displays featuring our competitor’s dynamic refresh technology. Other displays, like the ones from LG, are actually cheaper this year with AMD FreeSync than comparable models were last year without. This is the advantage from doing technologies the right way: as open standards with low and inexpensive barriers to entry. You’ve heard that from us time and time again, but it rings true with AMD FreeSync.

 

PERFORMANCE BENEFITS

Here’s another interesting fun fact: our testing indicates that AMD FreeSync technology doesn’t incur any performance penalties. The competition can’t say the same. In fact, the competition remarked to AnandTech last year that enabling their technology costs you 1ms of latency—an average performance hit of 3-5%. AMD FreeSync technology is smarter than that. Our data suggests a modest performance gain with AMD FreeSync enabled, and that too is the advantage of taking the time to thoughtfully develop an industry standard.


2.png

*footnote

 

FOR TWITCH FPS GAMERS

We heard you guys loud and clear: Vsync isn’t enough. You don’t want it because it limits framerates, and that limits opportunities for the freshest mouse data to reach your eyeballs. Call it what you will: mouse lag, input latency, whatever. With AMD FreeSync™ technology, we uniquely give you the opportunity to turn Vsync off when the framerate of the application leaves the dynamic refresh range supported by the monitor.

 

So, if you have one of those 144Hz BenQ or Acer displays, but you’re a Counter-Strike: Global Offensive player that wants to run at 240 FPS… you can! You still get beautifully smooth, tearing-free gameplay from 40-144Hz with those monitors, but you don’t have to sacrifice your input latency to get it when the framerate goes to 145+.

 

Below you can see a conceptual example of this relationship. In this theoretical exercise, the red line reflects framerates and input latency of an application Vsynced to 60Hz, and the blue line demonstrates the superior framerates and mouse latency of a game unrestricted by Vsync.  This is a hypothetical scenario, and you’ll want to tinker with your favorite game, but AMD FreeSync actually gives you the choice—the competition doesn’t.

 

3.png


WRAP UP

AMD FreeSync technology is free of incremental hardware costs, free of performance penalties, free as a standard, open for use by anyone in the gaming industry, and unbelievably smooth framerates are I-can-never-go-back-to-the-old-way incredible for PC gaming.

 

It’s hard to go wrong. What monitor will you buy?

 


Robert Hallock is Technical Marketing Manager for AMD. His postings are his own opinions and may not represent AMD’s positions, strategies or opinions. Links to third party sites are provided for convenience and unless explicitly stated, AMD is not responsible for the contents of such linked sites and no endorsement is implied.

 

 

 

Footnote:

In tests by AMD as of January 30, 2015, enabling AMD FreeSync™ technology on the AMD Radeon™ R9 290X, and G-sync on the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 had an average performance impact of +0.274% FPS (avg) and -1.447% FPS (avg), respectively, in Alien: Isolation™ (SMAA T1x), BioShock® Infinite, Tomb Raider™, Sniper Elite™ III (2.25x SSAA), and Thief™ (normal quality). All applications were evaluated at 2560x1440 with 8xAA and 16xAF unless otherwise noted. System configuration: i7-4770K CPU, MSI Z87 motherboard, 16GB memory, Windows 8.1 64-bit, AMD Catalyst™ 15.3 Beta, Nvidia 347.52 WHQL driver. G-sync monitor: ASUS ROG Swift PG278Q. AMD FreeSync™ technology monitor: BenQ XL2730Z.



*Originally posted by Robert Hallock in AMD Gaming on Mar 20, 2015 5:33:29 PM

glnext-logo.pngSince the advent of Mantle, gamers widely believed that Mantle would become an industry-standard graphics API or, at the very least, inspire successors that would offer similarly powerful benefits to hardware beyond AMD Radeon™ graphics. Many hoped that Mantle would come to OSes beyond Windows, too. These voices weren’t wrong: those were our goals, too!

 

The recent arrival of those oh-so-inspired successors has subsequently honed this chatter to one question: “What does Mantle do now?” AMD has cryptically replied—with very good reason—that Mantle’s destiny is openness and coexistence. Today we’re ready to be clear on one aspect of what that means.

 

The cross-vendor Khronos Group has chosen the best and brightest parts of Mantle to serve as the foundation for “Vulkan,” the exciting next version of the storied OpenGL API.

 

WHAT THIS MEANS

OpenGL has long and deservedly commanded respect for being a fast, versatile and wide open API that works on all graphics vendors across multiple operating systems.

 

Meanwhile, Mantle has seen acclaim for many improvements in gaming and game development: higher framerates, reduced rendering latency, reduced GPU power consumption, better use of multi-core CPUs, and re-pioneering new features like split-frame rendering.

 

Vulkan combines and extensively iterates on these characteristics as one new and uniquely powerful graphics API. And as the product of an incredible collaboration between many industry hardware and software vendors, Vulkan paves the way for a renaissance in cross-platform and cross-vendor PC games with exceptional performance, image quality and features.

 

STAY TUNED FOR MORE INFO

“Open” and “flexible” technologies are an essential piece of AMD’s DNA, and we have a long history in supporting those ideals. Our co-development of the Vulkan API through contributions like Mantle is another chapter in that open technology tale for AMD, an exciting evolution of Mantle, and a big step forward for PC gamers alike.

 

Stay tuned for more information on the specifics of Vulkan from the Khronos Group! We’ll be working hard to make it a fascinating story in the meantime.

 

Robert Hallock is the Head of Global Technical Marketing at AMD. His postings are his own opinions and may not represent AMD’s positions, strategies or opinions. Links to third party sites are provided for convenience and unless explicitly stated, AMD is not responsible for the contents of such linked sites and no endorsement is implied.

 

 

*Originally posted by Robert Hallock in AMD Gaming on Mar 3, 2015 1:43:39 PM

apu-desktop-notebook-tablet-Banner.pngGreat gameplay isn’t an accident—it’s built. Every chip is years in the making: the child of keen industry forecasting, of expert engineering, of collaboration with top game devs, and of the unrelenting thirst to win. When designing the AMD APUs, great gameplay was top of mind. But the “proof is in the pudding,” they say, and recent testing by Anandtech had all the proof anyone could need: the AMD A10 and A8-7000 Series APUs crushed the competition in head-to-head DirectX® 12 performance testing using StarSwarm by Oxide Games.

 

I encourage you to read the complete article, but let me summarize and digest the data for you:

  • Migrating from DirectX® 11 to DirectX® 12 yielded an average framerate improvement of 41.2% for the APUs tested by Anandtech. The competition’s average? Just 3.25%.
  • In batch submissions, measured by the time it takes to bundle and process large bodies of graphics work, AMD A-Series APUs were 41% faster at the job.
  • In fact, AMD A-Series APUs were 12.5x faster at processing a batch submission in DirectX® 12 as compared to DirectX® 11. The competition was only 10x faster in the same scenario.

 

These three data points reveal a great deal about the harmony between compatible AMD APUs and DirectX® 12. Not only were the AMD APUs faster than the competition in absolute framerates, they delivered more fidelity, did it more efficiently, and demonstrated greater benefit from the switch to DirectX® 12 than their opponent.

 

That’s a flawless victory for an extraordinary family of SoC designs that lie at the heart of world-class devices like the Xbox One™, PS4™, laptops, desktops, ultra-thins, HTPCs, arcade machines, airliners, and a breathtaking array of other devices.

 

Speaking of compatibility, all AMD APUs and GPUs based on the award-winning Graphics Core Next architecture are already DirectX® 12-compliant. Just install the Windows® 10 Technical Preview, grab the latest updates, and you’re ready to go!

 

Great DirectX® 12 performance is really that simple with AMD APUs.

 

Robert Hallock is the Head of Global Technical Marketing at AMD. His postings are his own opinions and may not represent AMD’s positions, strategies or opinions. Links to third party sites are provided for convenience and unless explicitly stated, AMD is not responsible for the contents of such linked sites and no endorsement is implied.



*Originally posted by Robert Hallock in AMD Gaming on Mar 2, 2015 1:55:50 PM

AMD_Mantle_Logo.png

MARCH 04, 2015: Did you know that the Khronos Group has selected Mantle to serve as the foundation for Vulkan, a low-overhead PC graphics API that works on multiple OSes and hardware vendors? Learn more!

 

AMD's Mantle Graphics API has gathered incredible momentum in its first year, gaining support from five advanced game engines and 10 premium applications.

 

Mantle has also revolutionized the industry's thinking on low-overhead/high-throughput graphics APIs as solutions that do not compromise developer productivity. Compelling content was delivered on Mantle in historically quick time, paving the way for various graphics standards bodies to move forward with conviction on their own similar API standards and specifications.

 

We are proud of these accomplishments, and we have been inspired by everything we have learned along the way. We also haven’t forgotten the promise we made: openness.

 

AMD is a company that fundamentally believes in technologies unfettered by restrictive contracts, licensing fees, vendor lock-ins or other arbitrary hurdles to solving the big challenges in graphics and computing. Mantle was destined to follow suit, and it does so today as we proudly announce that the 450-page programming guide and API reference for Mantle will be available this month (March, 2015) at www.amd.com/mantle.

 

This documentation will provide developers with a detailed look at the capabilities we’ve implemented and the design decisions we made, and we hope it will stimulate more discussion that leads to even better graphics API standards in the months and years ahead.

 

Proud moments also call for reflection, and today we are especially thoughtful about Mantle’s future. In the approaching era of DirectX® 12 and the Next-Generation OpenGL Initiative, AMD is helping to develop two incredibly powerful APIs that leverage many capabilities of the award-winning Graphics Core Next (GCN) Architecture.

 

AMD’s game development partners have similarly started to shift their focus, so it follows that 2015 will be a transitional year for Mantle. Our loyal customers are naturally curious about what this transition might entail, and we wanted to share some thoughts with you on where we will be taking Mantle next:


  1. AMD will continue to support our trusted partners that have committed to Mantle in future projects, like Battlefield™ Hardline, with all the resources at our disposal.
  2. Mantle’s definition of “open” must widen. It already has, in fact. This vital effort has replaced our intention to release a public Mantle SDK, and you will learn the facts on Thursday, March 5 at GDC 2015.
  3. Mantle must take on new capabilities and evolve beyond mastery of the draw call. It will continue to serve AMD as a graphics innovation platform available to select partners with custom needs.
    1. The Mantle SDK also remains available to partners who register in this co-development and evaluation program. However, if you are a developer interested in Mantle "1.0" functionality, we suggest that you focus your attention on DirectX® 12 or GLnext.

 

As an API born to tackle the big challenges in graphics, much of this evolution is already well under way. We invite you to join AMD this week at Game Developer Conference 2015 to see not just the future of Mantle, but the future of PC graphics itself.

 

Raja Koduri is Vice President of Visual and Perceptual Computing at AMD. His postings are his own opinions and may not represent AMD’s positions, strategies or opinions. Links to third party sites are provided for convenience and unless explicitly stated, AMD is not responsible for the contents of such linked sites and no endorsement is implied.



*Originally posted by Robert Hallock in AMD Gaming on Mar 2, 2015 10:51:31 AM

Great computing experiences don’t just happen—they’re AMD-enabled.

 

The latest major release of our drivers are available as a free upgrade for AMD customers. In addition to releasing new versions of the system software at regular intervals, AMD today released an AMD Catalyst™ Omega special edition software update that will include enhancements to enrich the user experience.

 

Why? Today’s hardware and software have become highly interconnected and interdependent dynamically interacting to shape a cohesive computing unit. This symbiotic relationship between hardware and software is vital to the ongoing evolution of future computing devices. New software becomes incorporated into an existing generation of hardware, enabling faster, more capable, and more reliable performance.

 

Capture.PNG.pngWHAT IS THE AMD CATALYST™ OMEGA DRIVER?

Last year alone, AMD Catalyst™ drivers were downloaded more than 80 million times — and we are thrilled that millions of customers are enjoying the benefits of our new software. Giving them something extra-special this time of year is the best way to thank them for their continuing support, and show our appreciation for being part of our AMD community.

 

Our software team has worked hard to enrich the user experience, and create a remarkable environment for developers by providing them the ability to create incredible new apps. The AMD Catalyst Omega driver was engineered to take full advantage of the advanced technologies built into AMD’s products that feature GCN Architecture, and help make them more powerful and capable.

Extra performance — no extra cost

Think of the last time a product you purchased actually improved over time. AMD Radeon™ graphics and AMD A-series APUs featuring GCN architecture can get  easy software upgrades that boost performance, enhance reliability, and help reduce heat and energy consumption. Installing the AMD Catalyst Omega driver on select AMD products enables free software upgrades that install automatically and can improve your gaming performance.

 

For example, early buyers of an AMD Radeon™ R9 290X GPU who download and install the AMD Catalyst Omega driver can realize up to 19% faster* gameplay on BioShock Infinite.

 

Similarly, users of AMD’s advanced APUs like the AMD A10 7850K can achieve up to 29% faster** gaming performance on Batman: Arkham Origins.

 

Great software brings out the best of great hardware

The AMD Catalyst Omega driver extracts the true potential of GCN-enabled AMD APUs and GPUs. Here are a few examples of new AMD Catalyst Omega driver capabilities:

  • Enabling the UltraHD revolution: UltraHD TVs and monitors are now available, and becoming much more affordable. UltraHD displays demand UltraHD content—but very little content or entertainment is being recorded in 4K at this time. The good news: we are offering built-in Ultra HD upsampling with frame rate conversion and HD detail enhancement that will convert 1080p videos to near UltraHD quality on 4K displays.

  • Perfect Picture UltraHD: Our Perfect Picture UltraHD technology strives for “pixel-perfect” images, with Compression Artifact Removal 2, and Frame Rate Conversion for Blu-ray Playback enabling pixel-by-pixel image processing.

  • What is better than even more powerful? Smoother: There are many reasons that make AMD APUs and AMD GPUs a match made in heaven. But one of the major ones is that one brings out the best in the other. When select products are paired together through Dual Graphics with frame pacing enhancements, the powerful gameplay becomes smooth.

 

Here are examples of AMD enabling developers to deliver outstanding user experiences:

 

  • OpenCL™ 2.0 Support: Enabling developers to extend the reach of their app content and functionality based on industry standards.

  • TressFX Hair 3.0: Introducing new gaming capabilities for game developers with TressFX, such as rendering of fur onto “skinned” geometries.

  • CodeXL Tools: A comprehensive tools suite for the performance-aware developer to Debug, Profile and Analyze applications. Also included is a realtime display of APU power consumption that collects data on power consumption, core frequency, temperature changes and voltage and current levels.

 

Capture3.PNG.pngTesting quantity delivers exceptional product quality

The benefits of “quality vs. quantity” are frequently debated — except when it comes to delivering an exceptional user experience, where the quality of a product heavily depends on the quantity of product testing. This is why every AMD Catalyst™ driver release undergoes exhaustive testing to uncover and fix hidden flaws and make the user experience as intuitive, reliable, and enjoyable as possible.

 

Testing the AMD Catalyst Omega driver required executing around 65% more automated and 10% more manual test-cases, utilizing 10% more varied system configurations, with 10% more different display makes and models.*** However, we did not stop there.

 

Our community managers asked six of the largest PC communities to share their candid feedback about our AMD Catalyst™ drivers, and report on the issues they discovered. Our dedicated QA teams worked on reproducing, debugging, and fixing these issues.  Every AMD Catalyst™ driver release undergoes exhaustive testing but we set the bar even higher with this latest driver release - all to ensure a user experience as intuitive, reliable, and enjoyable as possible.

For all the aforementioned reasons, the AMD Catalyst Omega special edition driver is the biggest and the best software upgrade AMD has released this year. It’s our way of saying ‘Thank you’ and Happy Holidays.

 

Sasa Marinkovic is Head of Software Marketing for AMD. His postings are his own opinions and may not represent AMD’s positions, strategies or opinions. Links to third party sites are provided for convenience and unless explicitly stated, AMD is not responsible for the contents of such linked sites and no endorsement is implied.

 

FOOTNOTES:

* Intel Core i7 4960X with 16GB DDR3-1866, AMD Radeon™ R9 290X Windows 8.1 64bit comparing launch driver 13.12 vs Driver 14.501.  Tests run at 3840x2160. BioShock Infinite @  ultra scored 30.47 vs 36.24 fps.

** AMD A10 7850K with R7 graphics, 2x4GB DDR3 2400, Windows 8.1 64bit comparing Catalyst 14.2 vs Driver 14.50. In Batman: Arkham Origins @ 1080P,  PHYSX=off GEOMETRYDETAIL=normal DYNAMICSHADOWS=normal MOTIONBLUR=off DOF=normal DISTORTION=off LENSFLARES=off LIGHTSHAFTS=off REFLECTIONS=off AO=normal we see an uplift from 34.96 fps to 45.2 fps.

*** Compared to previous driver release



*Originally posted by Robert Hallock in AMD Gaming on Dec 8, 2014 10:30:42 PM

NOTE: Gamers with Mantle-enabled AMD Radeon™ graphics cards or AMD APUs must have AMD Catalyst™ 14.9.2 Beta (or newer) installed in their system. The game will allow users to select Mantle at runtime. This driver is available here.

 

Friends, diplomats, would-be bureaucrats, today is a truly exciting day in the history of PC gaming: we Sid Meier’s Civilization® addicts have an all-new Civ game to play! Before you commit to one more turn and push your bed time back by five hours, please join us in exploring the day-one Mantle support in Sid Meier’s Civilization®: Beyond Earth™.1

 

introbanner.jpg

A GAME THAT SCARCELY NEEDS AN INTRODUCTION

Sid Meier's Civilization: Beyond Earth is a new science-fiction-themed entry into the award-winning Civilization series. Set in the future, global events have destabilized the world leading to a collapse of modern society, a new world order and an uncertain future for humanity. As the human race struggles to recover, the re-developed nations focus their resources on deep space travel to chart a new beginning for mankind.

 

As part of an expedition sent to find a home beyond Earth, you will write the next chapter for humanity as you lead your people into a new frontier and create a new civilization in space. Explore and colonize an alien planet, research new technologies, amass mighty armies, build incredible Wonders and shape the face of your new world. As you embark on your journey you must make critical decisions. From your choice of sponsor and the make-up of your colony, to the ultimate path you choose for your civilization, every decision opens up new possibilities.

 

AN AMD GAMING EVOLVED COLLABORATION

Firaxis Games and AMD have been in close collaboration on Sid Meier’s Civilization: Beyond Earth for many months, and indeed Firaxis has been an enthusiastic advocate and development partner for Mantle. Looking back at comments made by the studio in April, AMD Radeon™ customers definitely have cause for excitement:

 

By reducing the CPU cost of rendering, Mantle will result in higher frame rates on CPU-limited systems.  As a result, players with high-end GPUs will have a much crisper and smoother experience than they had before, because their machines will no longer be held back by the CPU.On GPU-limited systems, performance may not improve, but there will still be a considerable drop in power consumption.  This is particularly important given that many of these systems are laptops and tablets. The reduced CPU usage also means that background tasks are much less likely to interfere with the game’s performance, in all cases.


Finally, the smallness and simplicity of the Mantle driver means that it will not only be more efficient, but also more robust. Over time, we expect the bug rate for Mantle to be lower than D3D or OpenGL.  In the long run, we expect Mantle to drive the design of future graphics APIs, and by investing in it now, we are helping to create an environment which is more favorable to us and to our customers.


These benefits should come as no surprise to gamers that have been following the history of Mantle, but they’ve been put to particularly good use in Civilization. Let’s dig in!

 

MANTLE IN SID MEIER’S CIVILIZATION: BEYOND EARTH

Mantle is a high-efficiency graphics interface (an “API”) that permits supporting software to leverage the complete capabilities of an AMD Radeon™ graphics card. Mantle does this by reducing software bottlenecks and widening the parallelization of a game’s renderer.

 

Akin to allowing more cars on the road with no additional congestion, Mantle’s design endows a PC with the power to process more simultaneous information. New rendering techniques, higher framerates, more fluid gameplay and superior visual fidelity are all possible with Mantle. AMD is over a year ahead of other graphics companies in delivering this kind of technology to its customers and development partners.

 

John Kloetzli, Firaxis Games’ Principal Graphics Programmer for Civilization: Beyond Earth, put it this way:

 

“If you play [Civilization: Beyond Earth] for 40 hours, you’ve built an enormous empire. There’s a huge amount going on, besides just these tactical battles. We do allow you to zoom out quite far.  […] When you back up, you see your whole empire at once. That’s demanding. That’s when the performance, typically, in PC strategy games begins to go down. This is exactly the situation wherein we’re incredibly excited about Mantle.”

 

We also asked John if Mantle was difficult or complicated to implement:

 

“There definitely is cost involved [for supporting Mantle]. It’s definitely not an API that’s going to hold your hand and it’s not for hobbyists, really. But Mantle is not a significant overhead for a professional graphics team to add to a game. In fact, I did most of the design and programming of the graphics features in [Civilization: Beyond Earth] myself, and I also found time to do the vast majority of the programming for our Mantle backend as well. We fit it in our production schedule, it didn’t push us back any, and we’ll release [Mantle] concurrently with the DirectX® 11 version.”

 

That sounds like a winning combination for gamers and developers. Let’s see how Firaxis put Mantle to use!

 

MANTLE SPLIT-FRAME RENDERING WITH AMD CROSSFIRE™ TECHNOLOGY

UPDATE: Firaxis Games has published additional commentary on split frame-frame rendering (SFR) in Mantle. You should give it a read!

 

With a traditional graphics API, multi-GPU arrays like AMD CrossFire™ are typically utilized with a rendering method called “alternate-frame rendering” (AFR). AFR renders odd frames on the first GPU, and even frames on the second GPU. Parallelizing a game’s workload across two GPUs working in tandem has obvious performance benefits.

 

As AFR requires frames to be rendered in advance, this approach can occasionally suffer from some issues:

  • Large queue depths can reduce the responsiveness of the user’s mouse input
  • The game’s design might not accommodate a queue sufficient for good mGPU scaling
  • Predicted frames in the queue may not be useful to the current state of the user’s movement or camera

 

Thankfully, AFR is not the only approach to multi-GPU. Mantle empowers game developers with full control of a multi-GPU array and the ability to create or implement unique mGPU solutions that fit the needs of the game engine.

 

In Civilization: Beyond Earth, Firaxis designed a “split-frame rendering” (SFR) subsystem. SFR divides each frame of a scene into proportional sections, and assigns a rendering slice to each GPU in AMD CrossFire™ configuration.2 The “master” GPU quickly receives the work of each GPU and composites the final scene for the user to see on his or her monitor.

 

ESSENTIAL READING: How does split frame rendering work in Civilization: Beyond Earth?

 

As you can probably surmise, SFR requires high parallelization, efficient inter-GPU communication, and reliable delivery of slices to the master GPU. AMD Radeon™ graphics cards running Mantle are uniquely equipped to meet those requirements.

 

NOTE: Sid Meier’s Civilization®: Beyond Earth™ presently supports a maximum of two graphics cards. To try mGPU on Mantle for yourself, navigate to %homepath%\Documents\my games\Sid Meier's Civilization Beyond Earth\ in "My Computer." Open the GraphicsSettings.ini file and set "Enable MGPU=1".


CivBeyondEarth07.jpgMANTLE MULTI-THREADED COMMAND BUFFER SUBMISSION

As Mantle rises to meet the parallelization requirements of SFR, Mantle also supercharges Beyond Earth’s ability to utilize a gamer’s multi-core CPU.

 

In computer graphics, a “command buffer” is a type of memory buffer containing instructions (or “commands”) that the GPU will execute to carry out required rendering workloads. Feeding the GPU with a continuous, uninterrupted flow of commands is essential to keeping the whole graphics card at high utilization. High utilization can yield higher framerates and/or higher image quality, depending on the focus of the game developer.

 

 

Mantle is remarkable in its ability to spread a game engine’s command buffer submissions across multiple CPU cores, ultimately allowing for a wider stream of graphics work to be processed and queued to the GPU.

 

In the case of Sid Meier’s Civilization: Beyond Earth, you’ll see later in this blog that this wide communication lane to the AMD Radeon™ GPU is used to sustain higher overall framerates when empires get large and detailed in the late game.

 

EQAA in Mantle

Aliasing, the nasty “jaggies” on the edges of 3D objects in a PC game, is the bane of gamers everywhere.  Aliasing is produced when a sharp edge is rendered to a monitor, which doesn’t offer sufficiently high pixels per square inch to properly express a smooth line.

 

There are many types of anti-aliasing designed to combat this unwanted phenomenon, and the majority of them fall into a category known as “multisample anti-aliasing” or MSAA. As the name implies, MSAA relies on “samples,” which is a graphics card’s test for whether or not a pixel on your monitor is occupied by one or more objects from the game world. If a pixel is covered by more than one triangle then the final contents/color of that pixel will be a blend of the information covering that pixel to produce a smoother edge.

 

Games and GPUs can cooperate to increase the number of samples being taken with each pixel, and these samples may test for color or coverage. Higher coverage sampling improves the accuracy of detecting whether or not an object occupies the pixel; higher color sampling improves the blending between samples confirmed to be occupied. Gamers increase the sample rate by choosing 2x, 4x or 8x MSAA, causing every pixel to be tested for color and coverage in two, four or eight locations.

 

LEARN MORE: A Quick Overview of MSAA

 

EQAA_samples.pngLike MSAA, AMD’s Enhanced Quality Anti-Aliasing (EQAA) also comes in 2x, 4x and 8x sampling modes, but each EQAA mode takes twice as many coverage samples as MSAA. Increased coverage testing allows the GPU to more accurately detect objects within a pixel, potentially allowing EQAA to detect and smooth a hard edge that might have been missed with fewer samples. Coverage samples are computationally cheaper than color samples, so EQAA proves to be a good compromise between quality and performance.

 

 

Civilization: Beyond Earth automatically enables EQAA in Mantle (and DirectX®!) on supporting AMD Radeon™ GPUs when the user chooses to enable the in-game anti-aliasing options.

 

Customers with older GPUs that lack hardware support for Mantle can still take advantage of EQAA through the AMD Catalyst™ graphics driver. Simply enable 2x, 4x or 8xMSAA in the options menu of your favorite game (if supported), and ensure you have “enhance application settings” selected in the 3D Application Settings tab of AMD Catalyst™ Control Center.

 

SINGLE-GPU PERFORMANCE

Throughout this blog you’ve learned how Mantle can be used to enable great multi-GPU responsiveness, superior CPU multi-threading and smooth anti-aliasing. But thousands of customers effectively tell us every day that single-GPU performance matters more than anything – by owning single-GPU systems!

 

Our collaboration with Firaxis Games to integrate Mantle with Civilization: Beyond Earth is a landmark technical achievement that proves we’re listening. Across every GPU comparison we tested, AMD Radeon™ graphics cards with Mantle delivered the best performance. In fact, the AMD Radeon™ R9 290X 8GB is the fastest graphics single-GPU card on the planet. If you want to play Civilization: Beyond Earth, It doesn’t get any simpler than that.3

 

CivBE_4k_Ultra_8xAA.png

 

CivBE_1440p_Ultra_8xAA.png

 

CivBE_1080p_High_4xAA.png

 

 

 

WRAP-UP

AMD and Firaxis Games have worked together for months, not only to equip Civilization: Beyond Earth with a Mantle-based renderer, but to refine the Mantle specification with the features that Firaxis wanted to see. Hundreds of collaborative man hours are coming together for AMD Radeon™ customers at this very moment, and the results speak for themselves: fast, beautiful, efficient performance for Sid Meier’s Civilization: Beyond Earth.

 

That is the power of the AMD Gaming Evolved Program. We hope you enjoy one more turn!

 


Sid Meier's Civilization: Beyond Earth is a technology partner in the AMD Gaming Evolved program. Robert Hallock does Technical Communications for Desktop Graphics at AMD. His postings are his 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. Mantle application support is required.
  2. AMD CrossFire™ technology requires an AMD CrossFire Ready motherboard and may require a specialized power supply and AMD CrossFire Bridge Interconnect. Check with your component or system manufacturer for specific model capabilities.
  3. In Sid Meier’s Civilization®: Beyond Earth™ internal benchmark test at 3840x2160, the AMD Radeon™ R9 290X 8GB with Mantle outperforms the GeForce GTX 980 with DirectX® 11, NVIDIA’s highest-performing single-GPU graphics card as of October 20, 2014, by 45.38 average FPS to 44.89 average FPS using the Ultra in-game preset with 8xAA. Test system: Intel Core i7-4960X, 16GB DDR3-1866, Asus SABERTOOTH X79, Windows 8.1 x64, AMD Catalyst™ 14.9.2 Beta and ForceWare 344.16 WHQL.

 

 

*Originally posted by Robert Hallock in AMD Gaming on Oct 23, 2014 7:03:37 PM

Alien: Isolation™ hits the streets today promising to test your fortitude for playing in the dark. While you’re busy skulking through Alien-infested corridors, no doubt hiding from those crazy telescoping jaws and a river of acid spit, have a pause to admire the world around you. That world is jam-packed with truly state-of-the-art rendering technology. Today we’ll be exploring how AMD and The Creative Assembly utilized the resources of the AMD Gaming Evolved program to develop and optimize those technologies for DirectX® 11-ready AMD Radeon™ graphics cards.


NERD WARNING: Serious tech talk ahead! PC graphics junkies are in for a treat, but we’re going into exhaustive detail. Buckle up!

 

BUT FIRST, A LITTLE ABOUT THE GAME

Discover the true meaning of fear in Alien: Isolation, a survival horror set in an atmosphere of constant dread and mortal danger. Fifteen years after the events of Alien™, Ellen Ripley's daughter, Amanda enters a desperate battle for survival, on a mission to unravel the truth behind her mother's disappearance.

As Amanda, you will navigate through an increasingly volatile world as you find yourself confronted on all sides by a panicked, desperate population and an unpredictable, ruthless Alien.

 

Underpowered and underprepared, you must scavenge resources, improvise solutions and use your wits, not just to succeed in your mission, but to simply stay alive.

 

Want to see more of Alien: Isolation™? More killer videos are right over here.


IT’S BEAUTIFUL

PC gamers are in for a treat when they dial up the settings of Alien: Isolation. Alien: Isolation’s engine is all-new, written from the ground up to provide all of the advanced effects discussed in this blog. PC gamers will be delighted to learn that both console and PC performance envelopes were specifically targeted to provide a unique, highly-optimized experience on any system Alien: Isolation can be played.

 

ILLUMINATING THE SEVASTOPOL

To achieve the dramatic lighting effects on the Sevastopol, a setting in Alien: Isolation, a “deferred renderer” lies at the heart of its engine. This kind of renderer renders the entire scene visible to the player in a single pass, then stores all properties (e.g. positions and materials) required for beautiful lighting in a “G-Buffer.” The stored properties that matter to scene lighting can now be deferred until after the scene geometry is rendered, which makes the processing effort of lighting proportional only to the lighting complexity rather than lighting and geometry complexity. In short, the deferred renderer allows artists to place hundreds of dynamic lights in the scene and achieve great geometric detail simultaneously.

 

ai_gbuffer.png

TOP LEFT: Albedo, TOP RIGHT: Normal mapping, LOWER LEFT: Shininess, LOWER RIGHT: Fully-lit scene!

 

But the benefits of a deferred renderer are matched by some drawbacks. Foremost: limited support for diverse material types (e.g. metal, cloth, wood, skin, hair, etc.) and proper illumination of semi-transparent objects.

 

Classically, diverse material types must be rendered as a separate pass after the deferred lighting—a performance penalty. Alternatively, diverse materials can be treated with a grossly simplified physical model that doesn’t effectively simulate the true properties of those materials. Can you avoid sacrificing performance and/or quality if you want good lighting and realistic materials? Alien: Isolation proves that you can.

 

Alien: Isolation circumvents the materials issue through novel use of the GPU’s stencil buffer to tag the objects that use a unique material in the scene. The lighting/material interaction for each unique material type is rendered using a classic multi-pass technique, with the unique exception that the engine also tests the visibility of each material to the player’s field of view. Unseen materials are rejected in the graphics pipeline objects to avoid paying the rendering penalty typically associated with the multi-pass lighting we mentioned above.

 

And where semi-transparent objects are usually difficult for a deferred renderer, Alien: Isolation works around this as well. Only solid/opaque geometry can be rendered into the engine’s G-buffer, which means the semi-transparent geometry is normally rendered after the scene is composed using a reduced number of lights to conserve performance. The Creative Assembly’s solution is to dynamically generate a light map for each semi-transparent object. The light map is populated on-the-fly with the lighting data from the G-buffer, meaning translucent objects receive correct lighting regardless of scene complexity.

 

More technical details behind The Creative Assembly’s brilliant lighting model can be found in this presentation.

 

REAL-TIME RADIOSITY IN DIRECTCOMPUTE

Lighting an in-game world with direct sources like lamps and sunlight is not enough to achieve believable or realistic lighting. Here in the real world, rays of light bounce off of all kinds of reflective surfaces and scatter light into the surrounding area; those light rays continue to bounce around the room until all the energy from the rays has been absorbed. That bouncing and reflectivity is called “radiosity.”

 

Radiosity is an insanely difficult problem to solve in real-time graphics, and most games only fake it by using some form of full-scene ambient lighting. “Approximation” was not good enough for The Creative Assembly, who developed a full real-time radiosity engine for Alien: Isolation.

 

At the highest level, Alien: Isolation’s engine is constantly updating the radiosity model for the entire scene. This is achieved by placing a set of invisible “light probes” throughout the scene. Using Microsoft’s DirectCompute, these probes process how much light they are receiving from the lighting coming out of the deferred renderer. Lighting contributions from emissive surfaces, like computer screens and LED signs, are added to the data processed by the probe and combined with indirect (reflected) lighting coming from the previously-rendered frame. To light fixed or static objects in the scene visible to the player, the light probe data is crunched into lightmaps, applied to the geometry and rendered out.

 

ai_radiosity2.png

LEFT: The radiosity lightmaps, RIGHT: The world lit only with lightmap data. Notice how precise the real-time lighting is.

 

For the dynamic objects in the world, such as characters and particle effects, the light probes are used to generate radiosity cubemaps via DirectCompute.

 

Finally, the use of DirectCompute for AMD Radeon™ graphics customers is especially important, as the award-winning Graphics Core Next (GCN) architecture was

specifically designed with such “general purpose” languages in mind. Though that general purpose-ness was originally intended to be used in non-gaming scenarios, modern game engines have made great use of DirectCompute to quickly crunch highly-parallelized data. Awesome!

 

ai_radiosity.pngLEFT: Full engine render with radiosity disabled, RIGHT: Render with radiosity enabled. Notice the more subtle lighting throughout the scene, which fully accommodates reflections from metallic surfaces.

 

HIGH DEFINITION AMBIENT OCCLUSION+ (HDAO+)

To complement Alien: Isolation’s dynamic lighting and real-time radiosity, the renderer also uses HDAO+ (an AMD-developed technique) to calculate the shadows that are created when lighting reaches cracks and crevasses throughout the scene. HDAO+ uses DirectCompute (good for AMD Radeon™ graphics!) to calculate the size and strength of these shadows. HDAO+ uses the information coming out of the G-buffer and computes at multiple resolutions to help achieve the best balance of quality and performance.

 

ai_hdao.pngTOP LEFT: HDAO+ disabled, TOP RIGHT: HDAO+ enabled, LOWER LEFT: All the shadows that would never get rendered without HDAO+.

 

BETTER TEXTURES IN THE YEAR 2137

Texture compression is essential for good performance in content-heavy games. With texture compression, developers can cram more textures into a scene without overloading the GPU’s framebuffers or exhausting memory bandwidth while loading those textures into VRAM.

 

The industry has long relied on “DXT” compression which compresses each 4x4 block of pixels from the original image into a data set that’s one quarter to one eighth the size. These textures can be decompressed on the fly with dedicated capabilities in AMD Radeon™ graphics hardware.

 

The problem with compressing textures is that artifacts are introduced due to the compression scheme. You’ve seen pixilated and blocky JPEG files, and the DXT artifacts are not dissimilar. The Abs Error column below isolates these errors, with more color indicating a higher artifact quantity.

 

DirectX® 11 introduced a better, more complex, compression scheme called “BC7” that still compresses to a quarter of the size of the original image but significantly reduces the artifacts normally associated with the older DXT methods like BC3. AMD Radeon™ graphics hardware is ready for DirectX® 11.2, meaning those gamers will have access to the BC7-compressed texture pack for superior texture fidelity.

 

DXTC.pngThe high artifact depicted in the BC3 abs error column would be seen as fuzzy or blocky textures by the player. The low abs error rate on BC7 texture compression preserves performance and quality for AMD Radeon™ graphics users.

 

LURKING IN THE SHADOWS

Realistic shadowing is an essential ingredient of Alien: Isolation’s creepy atmosphere. To make these shadows as realistic as possible, The Creative Assembly team tapped AMD’s “contact hardening shadow” technology. This technique dynamically hardens or soften a shadow’s edges depending on the distance of the shadow from the light source and object casting that shadow.

 

While shadowing techniques are incredibly efficient on the Graphics Core Next (GCN) architecture in contemporary AMD Radeon™ graphics products, this technique nevertheless requires a powerful GPU and can only be enabled when the “ultra” in-game graphics preset is enabled.

 

ai_chs.pngLEFT: Contact Hardening Shadows disabled, RIGHT: Contact Hardening Shadows enabled. Notice that the shadows are softer and more realistically diffuse with this effect enabled.

 

GPU-ACCELERATED PARTICLES

The particle effects in Alien: Isolation breathe life into the eerie setting of the Sevastopol. From fire and smoke effects, to the streams of sparks generated by Ripley’s blow torch, an efficient way to simulate the thousands of simultaneous particles is to run a physical simulation on an AMD Radeon™ GPU.

 

The different characteristics of these particle types are artist-controlled using parameters baked into the metadata of a texture. Particles can be affected by velocity fields and bounced off the scene geometry by reading data out of the G-buffer. When it's time to render for the player, the particle physics are GPU-accelerated with DirectCompute on AMD Radeon™ graphics cards!

 

ai_particles.jpg

Affected by thermoclines and world geometry, embers soar into the sky backed by a real physics simulation calculated on an AMD Radeon™ graphics card.

 

SMOOTHIN’ THOSE SURFACES

Throughout Alien: Isolation, the Graphics Core Next architecture’s prowess with geometry tessellation is put to excellent use with silhouette-enhancing tessellation. This kind of tessellation smartly adds detail to a scene by dynamically increasing geometric complexity only on the edges of objects visible to the player. This calculated exercise of tessellation improves details on pipes, padding and alien hives without wasting GPU cycles on invisible work.

 

ai_tessellation.png

TOP LEFT: Tessellation disabled, TOP RIGHT: Tessellation enabled, LOWER LEFT: Tessellation disabled (wireframe), LOWER RIGHT: Tessellation enabled (wireframe). Notice the increased geometric complexity and detail.


PERFORMANCE

Now that you’ve seen how AMD and The Creative Assembly collaborated to implement a host of AMD Radeon™ graphics-optimized effects in this stellar new game engine, let’s see how it performs! We’ll let the charts speak for themselves—AMD dominates!

 

ai_perf1.png

 

ai_perf2.png

 

ai_perf3.png

 

WRAP-UP

When you’re done messing your knickers and fleeing from Aliens, stop to appreciate what’s around you:

  1. Unique PC effects for everyone to enjoy;
  2. and AMD Radeon™ graphics-optimized performance for AMD customers.

Those are our top missions in the AMD Gaming Evolved program, and we’re proud to support developers, like The Creative Assembly, who are equally passionate about PC gaming.

 

Speaking of AMD Gaming Evolved, you may have heard of our new Never Settle: Space Edition promotion. Never Settle: Space Edition leverages the AMD Gaming Evolved partnerships we have with developers like The Creative Assembly to give you complimentary codes for games, like Alien: Isolation, with the purchase of an eligible AMD Radeon™ R9 Series GPU from a participating retailer.

 

Get AMD Radeon™ graphics and get your game on!

 


Alien: Isolation is a technology partner in the AMD Gaming Evolved program. Robert Hallock does Technical Communications for Desktop Graphics at AMD. His postings are his 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.



*Originally posted by Robert Hallock in AMD Gaming on Oct 7, 2014 9:03:00 AM


NOTE: Sniper Elite III is available on Steam or in the Never Settle: Space Edition promotion with support for the Mantle graphics API starting today!This blog was authored by Kevin Floyer-Lea, Head of Programming, Rebellion Developments. It has been reprinted with permission.


Over the last few months at Rebellion we've taken our in-house Asura engine used in Sniper Elite 3 and added support for AMD's Mantle API. Our Head of Programming Kevin Floyer-Lea brings us up-to-date with the story so far...

 

WHY MANTLE?

 

The primary goal of Mantle is to provide a low-level interface that allows applications to speak directly to AMD's "Graphics Core Next" family of GPUs - greatly reducing the CPU overhead of translating commands for the GPU. With more traditional APIs like DirectX 11 there is often a disconnect between how costly a developer thinks (hopes!) an API call will be, and how much work the driver actually ends up doing underneath.

 

In simple terms the expected CPU gains of Mantle should be twofold. Firstly, making a command stream for the GPU should be less work on the CPU - and without any "surprises" or mysterious stalls. Secondly, the making of command streams can be entirely multithreaded. The native support of multithreading is perhaps one of the most important features from Rebellion’s point of view - while Microsoft had made some attempts at supporting multithreading with DX11 it was fundamentally limited by the single-threaded design choices of the previous versions.

 

Furthermore, with Mantle the developer gains access to things that drivers typically hide away - like the GPU's dedicated memory. This brings the PC closer to console programming, where developers are used to having direct control over available resources and squeezing the most out of the hardware.

 

It was these aspects which drew us to supporting Mantle - we'd long wished for the sort of control we had on console on our PC titles, and it was clear that whatever else may happen with Mantle in the future, it's most definitely kick-started a move to more lightweight APIs as we've seen with recent announcements concerning Microsoft’s DirectX 12, Apple's Metal, and Khronos’ Next Generation OpenGL Initiative.

 

OUR AIMS

 

Our main goal for supporting Mantle was to take maximum advantage of the potential for multithreading the API calls, and refactor our existing engine rendering pipeline to better fit what we predict are the requirements of this new breed of lightweight APIs. In that respect we spent more time restructuring our engine's rendering architecture than we did writing Mantle-specific code!

 

It was also important that we reused exactly the same data and assets as the (already shipped!) DX11 version of Sniper Elite 3 - so we wouldn't be optimising any shaders, data formats or rendering techniques at this stage - we'd just be shipping a new executable and reusing the same assets. This was primarily done to reduce cost and risk - but in hindsight it makes us a fairly unbiased test case between the two APIs.

 

What we have now is a fairly preliminary implementation in many respects - as Asura is a fully cross-platform engine designed to work on multiple platforms simultaneously, we aim to build upon this work to make a more independent code layer which sits over multiple low-level APIs as they become available.

 

se3.jpg

EARLY RESULTS

 

For our first comparison let’s look at the beginning of the “Siwa” level of Sniper Elite 3, which is one of the more graphically demanding start positions in the game as it encompasses lots of layered scenery and vegetation stretching off to the old city complex in the distance. Half-hidden in the scene are dozens of people and some vehicles which the culling system can’t remove because they are actually visible – just not that obvious. Gameplay hasn’t really kicked off yet so the rest of the engine’s systems are idling along; rendering is the biggest CPU hit here.

 

Below is what Task Manager reports if we just sit at the start position for 60 seconds. This is using an Intel i7-3770K CPU with 8 logical processors, coupled with an AMD R9 290X GPU, running on Ultra settings at a resolution of 1920x1200 – so we’d expect to be GPU bound in this scenario.

 

se3cpudata.jpg

 

The Mantle version clearly shows a much more balanced CPU load across the cores – though the total CPU utilisation has only dropped from 23% on DirectX 11, to 21% on Mantle. The more balanced load is exactly as we’d hoped, since all the Mantle API calls are now distributed across the available cores by our Asura engine’s multithreaded task system, just like we do for other systems like AI, animation or physics.

 

It’s worth noting that Sniper Elite 3 and the Asura engine are already optimised to account for DirectX 11’s weaknesses. For example, we make heavy use of instancing and similar batching techniques to reduce the number of draw calls we make per frame – all the usual things to reduce CPU overhead, which means Mantle will have less easy wins compared to other draw-call heavy titles.

 

So that’s what the CPU is doing – but what’s the actual framerate? On those settings we’re running at an average of 88fps on DX11, and 100fps on Mantle – around a 14% speed increase. This explains why the total CPU utilisation is still quite similar – with Mantle the CPU has to cope with 12 more frames every second, meaning we’re packing in more work and still using less CPU power. Furthermore because the work is more distributed, if we increase CPU load (say by using a faster graphics card, or by lowering resolution) we’re less likely for a single logical processor to become the bottleneck.

 

The size of the frame-rate increase is a pleasant surprise, as frankly at this stage in development we were expecting to have a more roughly equal frame-rate when GPU bound. There’s still a fair amount of scope for increasing performance with Mantle, particularly as we’re not yet taking advantage of the Asynchronous Compute queue. This would allow us to take some of our expensive compute shaders – like our Obscurance Fields technique – and schedule them to run in parallel with the rendering of shadow maps, which are particularly light on ALU work.

 

One reason for the performance gains seen so far may be the way we are handling the GPU’s memory - we pre-allocate VRAM in large chunks and then directly manage and defragment that memory ourselves. Similarly when updates for dynamic data and streaming textures are needed, we DMA copy the affected memory as part of our command stream to the GPU - thus eliminating the sort of copying and duplicating of buffers the DirectX drivers might have to do.

 

Ironically, one unintended consequence of increased texture streaming performance, and the ability  to hold more textures at once given we have more control over memory, is that we’ve found that we often have far more high resolution textures being used in the Mantle version... which could in theory increase rendering time. Thankfully speed increases from other areas seem to have hidden this, so you’ll just get better looking textures!

 

Another big reason for the speed gains is the way Mantle handles shaders. On DirectX we’re accustomed to having separate shader stages that are treated independently – the common ones being vertex and pixel shaders. Mantle instead uses monolithic pipelines – a concept that combines all the shader stages and the relevant rendering state into a single object.

 

As well as taking less CPU overhead to use, having everything together in one pipeline allows for some holistic optimisations that otherwise wouldn’t be possible – for example, perhaps that value calculated in the vertex shader isn’t actually used in the pixel shader... so it could be optimised out entirely. This seems to have particularly benefitted Sniper Elite 3 when it comes to tessellation, where we’re making heavy use of all the traditional stages as well as hull and domain shaders.

 

BENCHMARKS

 

To make testing easier we’ve added a Benchmark option to Sniper Elite 3 – available on the “Extras” page from the game’s front end menus. The benchmark contains varying scenes similar to what happens in game, e.g. wide, long distance views; close-ups with tessellation; obscurance fields and shadows; a truck full of characters driving by; lots of special effects overdraw in a gratuitous slow-mo explosion. These put different degrees of stress on the CPU and GPU and hopefully give us a more representative view of what happens in the game as a whole.

 

A word of caution at this point - when leaving the benchmark running repeatedly, we found that the dynamic power management software can kick in, reducing GPU cycle speed and thus skewing the profiling results. So it’s a good idea to use something like AMD’s OverDrive panel to monitor your GPU and guarantee consistency – and possibly increase your allowed fan speed if you don’t mind trading noise for frame-rate!

 

At the end of the benchmark you’ll get an average frame-rate report, and a more detailed log file is saved out to your Documents folder. Our initial tests with the benchmark are showing very similar performance gains as seen in the Siwa test above; here’s breakdown using our R290X setup, varying both resolution and quality settings.


To guarantee we’re GPU bound for the final setting we’ll use 1920x1200 at Ultra quality with 4x supersampling – which means the engine internally renders everything at 3840x2400, and then right at the end downsamples back to 1920x1200 to give us an extremely good looking (and expensive) anti-aliased image.


se3perf.png

 

Similarly here are the results for a HD7970, coupled with an older CPU that has only 4 logical processors:

 

se3perf2.png

 

Rather than going into more detail here we’ll let tech sites and interested users have a go themselves and come to their own conclusions. Let us know what you find!   

 

TRY IT YOURSELF

 

The latest version of Sniper Elite 3 now available on Steam has support for both Mantle and the Benchmark feature. To enable the Mantle build you need to select the “Use Mantle” tickbox in the game’s launcher, which is accessed via the Options button. The tickbox should be greyed out if you don’t have the requisite hardware or up to date drivers – we require AMD Catalyst™ 14.9 or later drivers which are available here:  http://support.amd.com/en-us/download


NOTE: be aware that these drivers only support Windows 7, Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 – not Windows 8.0! If you have Windows 8.0 you can update to 8.1 for free via the Windows Store page. Best to back stuff up first!


CONCLUSIONS

 

All in all, even this first pass of Mantle has delivered all that we’d hoped for:

 

  • Improved frame-rate
  • Reduced CPU power consumption (important for laptops)
  • Less susceptible to frame-rate spikes when other programs hit the CPU
  • Future scalability with higher numbers of cores
  • Scope for increasing scene and world complexity
  • Ability to increase the CPU budget for other systems like AI

 

The last two points are more relevant to our future games, and for now we need to see how this first pass of Mantle behaves in the wild and fix any issues that come up, before moving onto new features and improvements that would make sense to add to Sniper Elite 3. One big area that we haven't yet addressed which needs investigating is multiple GPU support - this can be a tricky area to get right.

 

The way DirectX11 handles multiple GPUs is “AFR” or Alternate Frame Rendering, which as the name suggests means if you have two comparably powered GPUs they simply take turns rendering frames. This is in many respects the easiest approach to take – and is a great way of making your game CPU bound! So possibly our Mantle version could show some big improvements when using this method.

 

However, with the independent control over the GPUs Mantle gives us, we could approach the problem very differently - for example one GPU could be rendering the basic geometry in the scene, while another handles lighting and shadows for the same frame, with the final image composited at the end. This may also provide a route for when GPUs aren’t of a comparable power level – for example an integrated APU motherboard coupled with a desktop GPU. It’s the potential for completely new approaches like this which excites me the most about Mantle and the APIs which will follow it.

 

Kevin Floyer-Lea is Head of Programming at Rebellion Developments. His postings are his 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.



*Originally posted by Robert Hallock in AMD Gaming on Oct 2, 2014 9:32:00 AM

WANTED: Experienced RPGers, tabletoppers and fantasy gamers that have grown weary of Wizards and Sorcs hamstrung by silly things like cooldowns, spells per day and expensive reagents. We know you pine for raining Meteor Swarms upon unsuspecting foes like an April Shower. If that sounds appealing to you, then perhaps Lichdom: Battlemage is the game for you.

 

Let me sweeten the deal a little further: Lichdom is optimized for AMD Radeon™ customers with the world’s first implementation of TressFX Hair v2.0, AMD TrueAudio technology, AMD Eyefinity technology, and validation for 4K gaming.1,2 With the power of unlimited magic, you get sweet gameplay. And with the power of AMD Gaming Evolved, you get sweet technology. Let’s dig in!

 

YOU ARE A BADASS

Welcome to the first game where the Mage is an unmitigated badass! With no mana pools or cool-downs, Lichdom: Battlemage throws out all of the classic tropes of playing a Mage. No longer is the character marginalized so that other classes can adventure through the same levels, and finally the true jaw-dropping potential of magic has been realized.

 

Lichdom: Battlemage is a first-person caster that focuses entirely on the Mage. With limitless magical power at your disposal and brutal enemies around every corner, victory hinges on a combination of skill and strategy. You must carefully craft a vast array of spells and learn to cast them in the heat of combat.

 

 

The Lichdom: Battlemage spell crafting system offers an enormous range of customization. Every Mage is the product of crafted magic that reflects the individual's play style. Whether you prefer to target your foes from a safe distance, wade into combat and unleash your power at point-blank range, or pit your enemies against each other, endless spell customization lets you become the Mage you want to be.

 

TRESSFX HAIR V2.0

tressfxgryphon.jpg

For the complete story on TressFX Hair v2.0, you should read our recent blog that comprehensively explores the technology’s latest developments. However, below I’ve compiled an executive summary of the changes:

  • New functionality to support for grass and fur
  • Continuous levels of details (LODs) are designed to improve performance by dynamically adjusting visual detail as TressFX-enabled objects move towards and away from the player’s POV
  • Improved efficiency with many light sources and shaders via deferred rendering
  • Superior self-shadowing for better depth and texture in the hair
  • Even more robust scalability across GPUs of varying performance envelopes (v.s. TressFX 1.0)
  • Modular code and porting documentation
  • Stretchiness now respects the laws of physics
  • and numerous bug fixes!

 

In general, TressFX 2.0 is a much more detailed, efficient and laws-of-physics-abiding technology than ever before. Awesome!

 

And it’s double awesome that Lichdom: Battlemage is the very first game to make use of TressFX Hair v2.0. The effect is most prominently utilized on The Gryphon, a companion character to the protagonist. Both the male and female Gryphons feature TressFX, however the effect on the female companion is more pronounced by virtue of her haircut. You encounter The Gryphon early in Lichdom: Battlemage, and re-encounter her or him often throughout the game.

 

AMD TRUEAUDIO TECHNOLOGY

AMD TrueAudio technology is a hardware-level feature found on the AMD Radeon™ R9 295X2, R9 290X, R9 290, R9 285, R7 260X and R7 260 graphics cards. A small block of audio processing hardware is integrated directly into the graphics chips in these products. That audio processing hardware is called a “Digital Signal Processor,” or DSP.

 

blocks.png

A high-level diagram of the Tensilica Xtensa HiFi EP DSP cores and the associated hardware that comprises AMD TrueAudio technology in an AMD Radeon™ graphics chip.

 

A DSP is specialized silicon dedicated to the task of processing digital signals. Example applications for a DSP include: audio compression, audio filtering, speech processing and recognition, simulating audio environments, creating 3D sound fields and more.

 

DSPs are fully programmable, which allows developers to creatively harness the hardware in ways limited only by their imagination and skill. We are striving with AMD TrueAudio to give game developers a blank canvas for new and never-before-heard audio environments and techniques. We hope that, with time, game developers will do with programmable audio what programmable graphics pipelines did for PC graphics.

 

Best of all, the hardware-accelerated effects of AMD TrueAudio technology are experienced with any old stereo headphones. Your headset or earbuds will do just fine!

 

chain.png

AMD TrueAudio effects are processed and applied as in-game audio is being generated. This allows the user to experience AMD TrueAudio with plain stereo headphones and any existing sound chip.


AMD TRUEAUDIO IN LICHDOM: BATTLEMAGE

With respect to Lichdom: Battlemage, AMD TrueAudio is utilized to calculate an effect called “convolution reverb.” Convolution reverb is a technique that mathematically simulates the echoes (i.e. reverberation) of a real-life location. This effect is accomplished by recording an “impulse response,” which is a snapshot of the echo characteristics of a real-world location. That impulse response is fed back into software that can recreate that behavior in a PC game.

 

Lichdom: Battlemage uses this technique to make buildings, cathedrals, alleyways and other in-game venues sound quite like they would in real life! In an environment where there are adjacent areas with different echo characteristics and impulse response (example: a cathedral adjacent to a cave and an open space), multiple convolution reverbs must be processed in parallel to create the most realistic sound environment. This effect is automatically enabled when an AMD TrueAudio-capable GPU is configured on the system.

 

You can experience the convolution reverbs for yourself most prominently in the level immediately following the opening tutorial mission. The soaring caverns and claustrophobic tunnels of the second stage make for an exciting and complex acoustic environment.

 

BIG SCREENS

Lichdom: Battlemage has achieved “validated” status for Eyefinity technology 3x1 configurations. This means that the user will enjoy the proper field of view, all menus and HUD elements will be placed correctly, cutscenes will be played without unexpected cropping or stretching, and more.  This is the highest level of compatibility we can award to any game. Additionally, this validation definitely makes Lichdom: Battlemage ready for 4K60 MST and 4K60 SST UltraHD displays!

 

PERFORMANCE

As an AMD Gaming Evolved title, performance on Lichdom: Battlemage solidly offers an advantage to AMD Radeon™ graphics cards. See the benchmarks below for results and recommended graphics settings for your GPU.3

 

Additionally, while the AMD Radeon™ R7 260X and R7 260 are unlisted in our charts, these users should run the game at 1080p with medium quality settings. TressFX Hair v2.0 and anti-aliasing should be disabled. Performance on these graphics cards can be in the mid- to high-30s with these settings.3

 

lichdom_perf1.png

 

lichdom_perf2.png

 

lichdom_perf3.png

 

 

WRAP-UP

If you have a hankering to be the Mage you always wished you could be, then pick up a copy of Lichdom: Battlemage from Steam today. And as you blast your way through cities and ruins overrun with the occult, take a moment to admire the scenery and the technology—you won’t be disappointed.

 


Robert Hallock does Technical Communications for Gaming & Desktop Graphics at AMD.

His postings are his 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.


FOOTNOTES:

  1. AMD TrueAudio technology is offered by select AMD Radeon™ R9 and R7 200 Series GPUs and is designed to improve acoustic realism. Requires enabled game or application. Not all audio equipment supports all audio effects; additional audio equipment may be required for some audio effects. Not all products feature all technologies — check with your component or system manufacturer for specific capabilities.
  2. AMD Eyefinity technology supports multiple monitors on an enabled graphics card. Supported display quantity, type and resolution vary by model and board design; confirm specifications with manufacturer before purchase. To enable more than three displays, or multiple displays from a single output, additional hardware such as DisplayPort™-ready monitors or DisplayPort 1.2 MST-enabled hubs may be required. A maximum of two active adapters is recommended for consumer systems. See www.amd.com/eyefinityfaq for full details.
  3. All resolutions and quality levels described by the performance diagrams were tested by AMD performance labs on the following platform: Intel Core i7-4970X, Asus X79 Sabertooth, 16GB DDR3-1866, Windows 8.1 x64. AMD Catalyst™ revision: 14.7 RC3. NVIDIA driver revision: 340.52 WHQL.



*Originally posted by Robert Hallock in AMD Gaming on Sep 23, 2014 10:54:54 AM

Since introducing TressFX Hair in the smash hit Tomb Raider™ last year, we’ve been diligently working to optimize the technology, enable compatibility with more platforms, and add new features. Today we wanted to take a little bit of your time to tell you about what’s new with TressFX Hair, and where the technology will be going in the near term.

 

Before we dive in, however, a quick primer on the history of TressFX Hair feels warranted to set the stage. TressFX Hair was the world’s first real-time hair physics simulation in a playable game. TressFX brought an end to the era of short hair, fixed hairstyles, helmets and other unseemly workarounds structured to disguise the limited nature of hair technology.

 

In fact, TressFX Hair represented the first occasion that a hair physics technology had ever made an appearance on the PC outside of limited technical demos. AMD and Crystal Dynamics collaborated extensively to develop and optimize the technology for PC gamers, and to give Lara Croft the unabashedly contemporary look she deserved for a new chapter in her story.

 

tressfx.jpg

LEVERAGING AMD RADEON™ GRAPHICS ACROSS PLATFORMS

Over the past year, we at AMD have remarked on more than one occasion that bringing AMD Radeon™ Graphics and AMD APU technologies to life on multiple gaming platforms would pay dividends for gamers. That prediction came true with the remastered Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition for Xbox One™ and PS4™. In this revisiting, TressFX Hair made its debut outside of the PC space for the very first time.

“Getting TressFX Hair running on PlayStation® 4 and Xbox One™ benefited from the fact that AMD’s Graphics Core Next (GCN) architecture powers the graphics of these platforms,” said Gary Snethen, Chief Technology Officer of Crystal Dynamics. “We were already familiar with GCN from our collaboration with AMD on Tomb Raider, and that experience was instrumental when it was time to bring TressFX Hair to life on consoles with Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition.”

 

Citing the Graphics Core Next architecture2 as the motivation to broaden the audience for TressFX Hair is an important occasion, as it validated in practice the idea that a common architecture makes it easier to share code across the platforms targeted by a development studio. From another perspective, it shows gamers that this cross-platform simplicity enables new headroom to explore in-game effects—effects that may have gone unused in past generations due to insufficient ROI.

 

TALE OF TWO HAIRCUTS
TressFX Hair was certainly impressive from a visual perspective, but less discussed is the operational efficiency that compels appreciation on both technical and philosophical grounds. To put a fine point on that, we wanted to illustrate the actual performance impact of AMD’s TressFX Hair contrasted against NVIDIA’s Hairworks.

 

In the below diagram, we isolated the specific routine that renders these competing hair technologies and plotted the results. The bars indicate the portion of time required, in milliseconds, to render the hair from start to finish within one frame of a user’s total framerate. In this scenario, a lower bar is better as that demonstrates quicker time to completion through more efficient code.

 

tfx_tr_perf.png

 

In the diagram, you can see that TressFX Hair exhibits an identically low performance impact on both AMD and NVIDIA hardware at just five milliseconds. Our belief in “doing the work for everyone” with open and modifiable code allowed Tomb Raider’s developer to achieve an efficient implementation regardless of the gamer’s hardware.

 

In contrast, NVIDIA’s Hairworks technology is seven times slower on AMD hardware with no obvious route to achieve cross-vendor optimizations as enabled by open access to TressFX source. As the code for Hairworks cannot be downloaded, analyzed or modified, developers and enthusiasts alike must suffer through unacceptably poor performance on a significant chunk of the industry’s graphics hardware.

 

With TressFX Hair, the value of openly-shared game code is clear.

 

WHAT’S NEXT FOR TRESSFX HAIR?

As Crystal Dynamics worked to bring TressFX to other platforms, we have been busy developing an even newer version of our award-winning hair tech. In November we announced “TressFX 2.0,” an update to the effect that brings several notable changes:

  • New functionality to support for grass and fur
  • Continuous levels of details (LODs) are designed to improve performance by dynamically adjusting visual detail as TressFX-enabled objects move towards and away from the player’s POV
  • Improved efficiency with many light sources and shaders via deferred rendering
  • Superior self-shadowing for better depth and texture in the hair
  • Even more robust scalability across GPUs of varying performance envelopes (vs. TressFX 1.0)
  • Modular code and porting documentation
  • Stretchiness now respects the laws of physics
  • and numerous bug fixes!

 

Starting with grass and fur, implementing realistic physics for these objects is rather similar to hair: treat each strand as a chain, group chains together, and then apply an external force. There is obviously some voodoo at work to make grass and fur behave more like grass and fur, and rather less like long hair, but the principles are so similar that they’re a logical extension to TressFX’s capabilities.

 

In designing TressFX 2.0, we addressed a notable issue in our hair physics simulation: stretchiness. Extreme linear and angular acceleration of a fast-moving or fast-turning character could cause the hair sim to appear unnaturally stretchy. In very rare instances, the physics model could even prevent the hair from ever recovering its original length.

 

While AMD and Crystal Dynamics were largely able to overcome this problem by performing rolling iterations of a “length constraint” system in Tomb Raider, we wanted to fix it permanently and more efficiently. TressFX 2.0 addresses this issue head-on through R&D and the creation of a new General Constraint Formulation, which is designed to be considerably more accurate than the old model at dealing with the forces of acceleration on a head of hair’s global and local (per-strand) level.

Additionally, we overhauled the math behind the aforementioned “chain” structure of hair, grass and fur. We now use the Thomas Algorithm to evaluate the behavior of these objects, and this is notable because the Thomas Algorithm is very efficient and lightweight with respect to GPU number crunching. The end result for you: hair that behaves more realistically.

 

tressfx_math.png

Behind-the-scenes R&D work for TressFX 2.0; simplifying the TressFX Hair algorithm.

 

 

Next, we wanted to illustrate the impact self-shadowing (right) has on the texture and depth found in a head of hair:

 

shadowing2.jpg

 

Finally, we’ll take a look at TressFX 2.0’s LOD levels. As indicated earlier in this blog, a LOD level brings scalable detail to a system of 3D objects. As LOD-enabled objects move away from you, detail is reduced by a system that sustains the apparent quality for the player—you shouldn’t notice a thing if we do our job right! Inversely, when an object moves closer to you, the detail levels are slowly dialed up to maximum in a manner that, again, should be largely imperceptible to the player.

 

The primary benefit of a LOD system is an improvement in overall system performance. With LOD levels, the GPU needn’t render a full-detail head of hair when those details are beyond the visual acuity of the player’s position in the game world.

 

lod_levels.png


THE FIRST TRESSFX 2.0 GAME

Beyond improvements to the effect, many gamers have asked about the next game to use TressFX Hair, and I’m pleased to say it’s Lichdom: Battlemage! The team at Xaviant is making healthy use of TressFX Hair 2.0, and had this to say about their decision to adopt TressFX:

 

“TressFX Hair is the most impressive advancement in visual fidelity in the past 24 months,” said Michael McCain, CEO and Founder, Xaviant. “TressFX proved that significant leaps in realism are still possible, even in an age where many have expressed skepticism about the very possibility of such a leap occurring. The beauty, simplicity and performance of TressFX—especially compared to its alternatives—made it an obvious choice to augment the commitment to image quality we have for Lichdom.”

 

Lichdom: Battlemage prominently uses TressFX Hair to render the female version of The Gryphon, a companion/aid to the player when a male protagonist is chosen. Her short bob haircut moves and shines just as you would expect real hair to do.

 

 

A MULTI-PLATFORM WORLD

TressFX Hair took the PC gaming world by storm, chiefly because it demonstrated that 3D graphics needn’t be incremental improvements—big and unexpected leaps can still happen! We were (and still are) very proud of that fact.

 

TressFX Hair also demonstrated the power of being transparent with your code when working with game developers. By collaborating so closely with Crystal Dynamics on TressFX Hair, we were able to make the technology efficient for all hardware, quickly incorporate the lessons and feedback from Tomb Raider™ into the 2.0 version TressFX, and make those improvements publicly available in source code form for adoption in games like Lichdom: Battlemage!

 

Finally and excitingly for gamers everywhere, Crystal Dynamics’ decision to adopt TressFX Hair for Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition shows that cross-pollination between PCs and consoles is not only possible, but happening right now and improving the overall experience on all platforms.

 

SUPPORTING RESOURCES

 


Robert Hallock does Technical Communications for Gaming & Desktop Graphics at AMD.  His postings are his 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.


FOOTNOTES:

  1. All performance evaluation conducted on the following platform: Intel Core-i7 4960X, ASUS X79 Sabertooth, 16GB DDR3-1866, Windows 8.1 x64. AMD Driver: 14.2 Beta 1.3. NVIDIA Driver: 334.89. Settings: 1920x1080, maximum in-game quality preset.
  2. >Select AMD Radeon graphic cards are based on the GCN Architecture and include its associated features (AMD PowerTune technology, AMD ZeroCore Power technology, PCI Express 3.0, etc.). Not all features are supported by all products—check with your system manufacturer for specific model capabilities.

 

 

*Originally posted by Robert Hallock in AMD Gaming on Sep 23, 2014 10:33:39 AM

3399_RADEON30_EMAILBNR_FNL.png

 

AMD and its retail partners would like to thank you for tuning into the #AMD30Live broadcast to celebrate 30 years of graphics and gaming with us! To commemorate the occasion, many of those fine retailers have assembled some killer deals for gamers all over the world. Check the list below and jump on the ones you gotta have!

 

RETAILERTHE DEALNEED IT?
NeweggGet a free SSD when you buy an AMD Radeon™ R9 295X2Get it!
Overclockers.co.ukGet a limited edition metal box Sapphire Radeon™ R9 295X2 and a FREE Superflower 1200W power supplyGet it!
TigerDirectSave up to $250 when you buy a new PSU with an AMD Radeon™ R9 295X2Get it!
NCIXSave up to $200 when you buy a new PSU with an AMD Radeon™ R9 295X2Get it!
NeweggSave up to $225 when you buy a new PSU with an AMD Radeon™ R9 295X2Get it!
CyberPowerPCBuying a rig? Get a free upgrade from an AMD Radeon™ R9 270X 2GB to XFX Radeon™ R9 280 3GBGet it!
iBUYPOWERPCs starting from $589 with a free upgrade to an AMD FX-6300 CPUGet it!
TigerDirectSave big on CPU+GPU bundles featuring AMD Radeon R9 290, R9 270 or R7 250 graphicsGet it!
LDLCGreat deals on an AMD Radeon™ R9 290 and power supply bundle starting at €379.95Get it!
CaseKingSave big when you purchase an XFX brand AMD Radeon™ graphics card and a Leadex power supplyGet it!
CSLGet a complete AMD Radeon™ R9 280X-based gaming PC from just €1099Get it!
UlmartMultiply retailer bonuses by five with the purchase of a Sapphire Radeon™ R9 290XGet it!
DanteGet a great deal on a Sapphire Radeon™ R9 295X2 and a Dell display!Get it!
Flipkart

CHOOSE ONE:
Buy any AMD Radeon™ R9 Series graphics card and get select games free.

Buy any AMD Radeon™ R9 Series GPU and get a chance to win a free gaming headset, mouse, keyboard and mousepad!
Buy any AMD Radeon™ R9 Series GPU and get 20% off any PC game. Offer valid for 90 days.

Get 'em!

 

 

*Originally posted by Robert Hallock in AMD Gaming on Aug 23, 2014 6:42:51 AM

As we head into the dog days of summer, EA wants to give thanks to all their loyal players and would  like to do that with a big ol’ AMD Radeon™-filled program called Battlefest! The program kicked off on July 9th, so you should get in on the action immediately after giving the below details a read!

 

battlefest.png

 

Here's what you need to know about Battlefest:

  • From July 9th through August 13th, there will be a daily contest called “Battleshots.” EA will ask you to send a screenshot in Battlefield 4™ based on a theme of their choosing. Screenshots get submitted here. Each day, they will crown a winning screenshot that will win an AMD Radeon™ graphics card, a DICE store gift card, and a Battlefield 4™ Premium membership on the platform of your choosing. (See official rules.)
  • Each Friday, the Battlefield™ team will be releasing a free camo unlock for all players.
  • To kick off the program on July 12th-13th there was a double XP weekend!
  • Each week of Battlefest will feature a global community challenge to reach an in-game goal. If the global BF4 community meets the goal, everyone gets a gold Battlepack. The first Community Mission begins July 15 with a challenge to reach 15 million revives by July 20. Good luck, soldiers!
  • Last but not least, the Stunt Video Competition runs July 14 through August 2. We want you to send us your best stunt video that can only be done in Battlefield 4™. The DICE team will pick the top 12 winners and then you, the loyal fans, will vote on the top three winners to receive a screamin’ fast AMD-based PC valued at $3100 US! The nine runners up won’t go home empty-handed, either: each one will receive a high-end AMD Radeon™ GPU. (See official rules.)

That’s it! A month of “thank you” to everyone. Keep your eyes on the Battlefield™ Blog for even more Battlefest prizes and announcements in the weeks ahead!


Robert Hallock does Technical Communications for Desktop Graphics at AMD. His postings are his 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.



*Originally posted by Robert Hallock in AMD Gaming on Jul 16, 2014 10:32:00 AM

Two new games, Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare and Sniper Elite III, both became available recently. These games have been hotly anticipated, and both offer gameplay that’s novel and engrossing. What’s more, both games benefit from close cooperation with AMD, and Sniper Elite III even joins our Never Settle Forever game bundle program.

 

In Sniper Elite III, the developers’ goal is to faithfully simulate what it’s like to be a real military sniper. That means stealth is paramount, wind and ballistic effects are realistic and you must be careful and deliberate in your moves. Every shot is precious, and the damage done is deconstructed in slow motion to convey the devastation a sniper’s bullet causes. The tension runs high.

 

The experience of playing this game really is unique. For those who prefer sniping to running and gunning, it’s hard to beat. Only seeing the game in action can really make the point. Click here to watch the trailer. (WARNING: This game isn’t for everyone. It’s extremely graphic, and so is the trailer. It’s rated M for mature audiences by the ESRB and 16+ by PEGI).


Sniper Elite III is part of the Never Settle Forever Gold and Silver tiers. Buyers of qualifying AMD Radeon™ graphics cards can get it now.

 

If shredding human anatomy isn’t your thing, don’t despair. Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare combines strategy, tactics and lighthearted fantasy weapons into addictive, fast-paced multiplayer mayhem.

 

Its unique cartoon style sets the mood, but don’t mistake its appearance for a lack of sophistication; it runs on the same powerful Frostbite 3 engine that powers Battlefield 4. Many elements of the multiplayer action will feel familiar to fans of the Battlefield games.

 

Plant mushroom sentries, call in corn strikes or tunnel beneath the lawn for a sneak attack. The action is definitely weird, but that’s part of the series’ long-standing appeal.

 

Rated for players age 10 and above, and making relatively modest demands on hardware, Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare is sure to be a hit with a very large number of PC gamers. It’s is one of three titles developed by EA in conjunction with our Gaming Evolved program for this season. Dragon Age Inquisition and Battlefield Hardline will follow.

 

Just in case the arrival of these games doesn’t excite you enough, take note that both also will also support the Mantle API. Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare can be run with Mantle now; Sniper Elite III will have Mantle support activated in an upcoming update. The end result is that games using AMD technology  can get the best possible gameplay experience with these titles, and Mantle will have its already-strong reputation bolstered with two new and popular games added to its portfolio.

 

It spite of the slowdown that usually happens this time of year, there couldn’t be a more exciting time for AMD Gaming Evolved and Never Settle Forever.

 

Happy hunting!

 

Jay Lebo is a Product Marketing Manager at AMD. His postings are his own opinions and may not represent AMD’s positions, strategies or opinions. Links to third party sites are provided for convenience and unless explicitly stated, AMD is not responsible for the contents of such linked sites and no endorsement is implied.



*Originally posted by Jay Lebo in AMD Gaming on Jul 9, 2014 2:37:20 PM

Since launching a few months ago, the AMD Gaming Evolved Client is now used by over 8 million gamers around the world. That means that over 8 million gamers are:

 

  • Benefitting from automatic gameplay and progress tracking;
  • Earning Reward Points that can be redeemed for sweepstakes entries, swag and merchandise;
  • Getting access to one-click crowdsourced game setting optimizations for over 200 games;
  • Putting all their games in one place for easy access and maintenance.

 

Today we’re happy to announce some new features that will bring even more gaming excitement to those millions of users. These features are BETA additions to the AMD Gaming Evolved Client. They will be completely polished soon, but in the meantime we invite you to try them out.

 

The first of these features is digital video recording, or DVR. Just like the popular feature many people use with their TVs, the new DVR feature is always recording your gameplay, making up to the last 10 minutes available for replay, saving and sharing. The next time you bust an astounding move, you’ll be able to share it with all your friends. The feature is intended to be left always on, so you never have to worry about forgetting it, and the overhead required to keep it running in the background is minimal. It’s a terrific way of saving and sharing your best moments, including the ones you didn’t plan for.

 

As great as DVR is, sometimes a recording is not what you’re after and only live action will do. For that, we’re happy to announce that Twitch is now integrated into the AMD Gaming Evolved Client. Twitch is the leading platform for live game streaming. Now you can use it to share live gameplay, broadcast tournaments and show your skills to the world, all from within the AMD Gaming Evolved Client.


To top it all off, this newest version of the AMD Gaming Evolved Client (version 3.9) implements some exciting improvements to the user interface, making it easier to use than ever before, and seamlessly integrating the newest features.

 

Remember, the DVR and Twitch streaming features are in beta, so there are still some kinks to work out. But we invite you to try the new features and let us know what you think. We hope you find the new additions as exciting as we do.

 

Jay Lebo is a Product Marketing Manager at AMD. His postings are his own opinions and may not represent AMD’s positions, strategies or opinions. Links to third party sites are provided for convenience and unless explicitly stated, AMD is not responsible for the contents of such linked sites and no endorsement is implied.



*Originally posted by Jay Lebo in AMD Gaming on Jun 19, 2014 6:17:00 PM

Hello PC gaming fans!

 

With the recent announcement of widespread availability of the entire AMD Radeon™ R9 Series graphics lineup at original suggested list prices, there could hardly be a better time to get your game on with AMD.

 

This week we’re focusing on one of the AMD Radeon R9 Series graphics cards’ most compelling attributes: Mantle API support. Mantle is already enjoying rapid industry adoption, but there are a few recent developments that are once again causing Mantle to make news in the media:

 

  • On March 19 we announced a technology partnership that will add Mantle support to CRYENGINE® — the game engine behind blockbuster titles like Crysis and FarCry.

  • On March 20 Microsoft announced DirectX® 12, the next major evolution of its own game API. This is terrific news because it really draws attention to the value of low-level programming and Mantle’s leading contribution. With DirectX 12 games still over 18 months away and no alternatives in sight for Linux gamers, Mantle’s future looks bright.

  • On April 14 we announced that the upcoming release of Sid Meier’s Civilization®: Beyond Earth will support Mantle. In case you’re not familiar with the series, the current iteration is Civilization V, which, despite being nearly four years old, remains the sixth most played game according to Steam1With Mantle in its arsenal, the next installment could be even bigger.

  • On April 16 we published a Mantle whitepaper, giving developers and enthusiast gamers a deep, technical insight into the technology. Have a look to find out how Mantle delivers such dramatic performance increases.

  • On May 1 we launched the Mantle SDK beta, which made Mantle available to a much greater number and variety of game developers. That should help accelerate the proliferation of Mantle-enabled game titles.

  • On June 9 EA announced that three of its upcoming games would support Mantle: Battlefield Hardline, Dragon Age Inquisition and Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare. Each of these brings new features, maps and gameplay to already-popular franchises. If the results we saw with Mantle in Battlefield 4 are anything to go by, these games should absolutely fly on AMD Radeon™ hardware.

  These are a few of the reasons Mantle remains top-of-mind for developers and game devotees. Here are some examples of what developers have to say: 


  • “Crytek prides itself on enabling CRYENGINE with the latest and most impressive rendering capabilities. By integrating AMD’s new Mantle API, CRYENGINE will gain a dimension of ‘lower level’ hardware access that enables extraordinary efficiency, performance and hardware control.”  Cevat Yerli, Founder, CEO & President of Crytek.

  • "AMD's Mantle will allow us to extract more performance from an AMD Radeon GPU than any other graphics API," Chris Roberts, CEO, Cloud Imperium Games.

  • "Mantle lets you use AMD Radeon GPUs the way they are meant to be used, unlocking many new opportunities and increased CPU and GPU performance. Because of this, Mantle is one of the most important changes to PC graphics in many years." David Anfossi, studio head, Eidos-Montréal.

  • "AMD's Mantle technology lets us get more out of the hardware than any other solution available. Adding Mantle support to our multi-platform, 64-bit Nitrous engine realizes significant gains in performance on Mantle-enabled hardware without adding enormous development overhead." Dan Baker, co-founder, Oxide Games.

There couldn’t be a better time to buy an AMD Radeon™ R9 Series graphics card, all of which include Mantle API support. They are, simply, for gamers who demand the best.

 

 

Jay Lebo is a Product Marketing Manager at AMD. His postings are his own opinions and may not represent AMD’s positions, strategies or opinions. Links to third party sites are provided for convenience and unless explicitly stated, AMD is not responsible for the contents of such linked sites and no endorsement is implied.

 


1 http://store.steampowered.com/stats/?snr=1_steam_4__110 May 16, 2014

 

 

*Originally posted by Jay Lebo in AMD Gaming on Jun 10, 2014 10:04:22 AM

Since we updated our famous Never Settle Forever game bundle program back in April we’ve been hearing tremendously positive feedback from gamers and the press. To prove that we really never settle, we’re announcing an exciting new game title that have been added to the Radeon™ GOLD and SILVER Reward tiers, as well as one bonus game title that’s available with every AMD Radeon™ R9 Series or R7 Series graphics card purchase (available on all Radeon™ Reward tiers).

 

At the top of the news is the release on June 3 of Murdered: Soul Suspect. Gamers have been able to choose this title as a Never Settle reward for some time, but now that the game has launched those folks who actually chose this title will be receiving their game codes so they can finally download and play this highly anticipated film noir-style thriller1.

 

As well as being a terrific game to play, Murdered: Soul Suspect is also striking to look at. Features like ambient occlusion and depth-of-field increase realism and immersion for gamers. The screenshots below demonstrate how great this game looks. Click them to enlarge.

 

1.jpg

2.jpg

3.jpg

 

Next up is some equally big news: Sniper Elite™ 3 is joining Never Settle Forever! This game launches on June 27, but gamers can choose it now and get their codes on launch day.

 

Sniper Elite is already an extremely popular series. In this version you continue as American OSS sniper ace Karl Fairburne. Graphics, bullet mechanics and damage effects have all been improved since the last version, which was pretty impressive to begin with. Also getting major attention is the game’s famous X-Ray Killcam: bodies look  more anatomically correct, with new layers for muscle and the circulatory system, and damage physics are dynamically modeled for the first time, making every hit unique. See the X-Ray Killcam demonstrated on a truck engine in the first screenshot below.

 

5.jpg

6.jpg

11.jpg

 

As if that wasn’t enough, Sniper Elite™ 3 also supports Mantle! That’s because it’s built on Rebellion’s Asura game engine. Rebellion was one of the first developers to commit to supporting Mantle, and Sniper Elite 3 is just the first Asura-powered game that will do so.

 

9.jpgFinally we have a very special bonus offer for everyone who takes part in Never Settle Forever. When you redeem your Radeon™ Reward, you’ll have the opportunity to get these valuable, AMD-exclusive, in-game items for the popular free-to-play title Dragons and Titans™ as a special bonus:

 

  • An exclusive AMD Gaming Evolved avatar;
  • An arcfury dragon to strike lightning on and generally harass your enemies;
  • A Hades skin pack to make that arcfury look especially furious;
  • A nifty stormcaller trident, handy for electrocuting baddies;
  • An assortment of Tier I runes (ten of them) to enhance your dragon’s battle prowess
  • 5 Epic War Marks for rapid dragon lord advancement;
  • 100 potions for quick health boosts in the heat of battle.

 

Those are some pretty mighty augmentations for a budding dragon lord, and they’re available as a FREE BONUS WITH EVERY RADEON™ REWARD TIER. You can find out more about Titans and Dragons™ here.

 

That brings this Never Settle Forever update to a close, but that doesn’t mean we’re settling! Keep visiting for regular updates on new additions to this sensational program.

 

Jay Lebo is a Product Marketing Manager at AMD. His postings are his own opinions and may not represent AMD’s positions, strategies or opinions. Links to third party sites are provided for convenience and unless explicitly stated, AMD is not responsible for the contents of such linked sites and no endorsement is implied.




FOOTNOTES:


  1. If you selected Murdered: Soul Suspect as an AMD Radeon™ Reward and haven’t received your download instructions yet, please email support@amd4u.com.



*Originally posted by Jay Lebo in AMD Gaming on Jun 10, 2014 1:28:12 PM

While 4K monitors continue to proliferate and, we hope, become more affordable, it’s still hard to beat a multi-monitor setup1. That’s especially true if you already have a monitor or two; combining them and buying one or two HD monitors to make a 3-screen setup can be a more cost effective route to getting way more screen area than a single 4K panel.2

 

Many gamers have made the leap and gone out to buy two HD monitors to flank the one they already have. Now even more gamers can enjoy the benefits from AMD Eyefinity Technology, and everyone can have access to the wider variety of display possibilities Eyefinity offers.

 

The new capability in Eyefinity we’re talking about is support for mixed resolutions, and the easiest way to explain it is with a picture:

 

1.jpg

In the photo above we have an ultra-wide 2560 x 1080 monitor with standard 1080p monitors on either side, giving an expansive, immersive 6.9 megapixels (6400 x 1080) of gaming for about $650 all-in (figuring $150 for an HD monitor and $350 for the wide screen one in the middle of this photo). That’s little more than the cost of one of the cheapest 4K screens. And the upgrade cost can be even lower for gamers who already have one monitor to start with.

 

Less elegant but equally functional arrangements like this 4480 x 1024 setup are possible using pretty much whatever monitors you have laying around.

 

2.jpg

As you can see, mixing monitors of different resolutions can work great! And mixing monitors of different sizes isn’t any different.

 

1.png

The diagram on the right shows what happens when you mix and match different sized monitors: you have a choice. You can shrink the game frame so that it fits within the screen area available, leaving a little extra unused screen hanging off the top or bottom.

 

Alternatively, you can expand the image from edge to edge in every direction, automatically creating ‘hidden’ areas of the picture. The picture’s never stretched or squeezed; it just looks right, thanks to this flexibility. That’s entirely new in the world of mutli-screen PC gaming.

 

This opens up a whole world of new possibilities to gamers, and probably a new lease on life for many a dusty, discarded screen.

 

All AMD Radeon™ R7 Series and R9 Series graphics cards support mixed resolutions. To try it out, you first need to download the latest AMD Catalyst™ Driver. Making it work is a simple one-click setup, so give it a try.

 

If you’ve got an unusual Eyefinity setup, get in touch with us on our Facebook page or @AMDRadeon. We want to see pics of the craziest setups, and we’ll share the best ones!

 

But wait, there’s more!

 

Mixed resolution with AMD Eyefinity Technology isn’t the only thing that’s new in display tech. Also making news is the recent announcement by VESA that Adaptive-Sync will be part of the DisplayPort 1.2a industry standard specification. Close followers know what that means for FreeSync technology developed by AMD.

 

Read the blog on FreeSync here.

 

 


Jay Lebo is a Product Marketing Manager at AMD. His postings are his own opinions and may not represent AMD’s positions, strategies or opinions. Links to third party sites are provided for convenience and unless explicitly stated, AMD is not responsible for the contents of such linked sites and no endorsement is implied.

 

FOOTNOTES:

 

  1. AMD Eyefinity technology supports multiple monitors on an enabled graphics card. Supported display quantity, type and resolution vary by model and board design; confirm specifications with manufacturer before purchase. To enable more than three displays, or multiple displays from a single output, additional hardware such as DisplayPort™-ready monitors or DisplayPort 1.2 MST-enabled hubs may be required.  A maximum of two active adapters is recommended for consumer systems. See www.amd.com/eyefinityfaq for full details.
  2. The starting price for a 4K monitor is currently USD $600. Source: http://lifehacker.com/samsungs-crazy-cheap-4k-monitor-is-even-cheaper-than-us-1576830629

 

 

*Originally posted by Jay Lebo in AMD Gaming on May 30, 2014 4:04:56 PM

samantha.davis

4K gaming

Posted by samantha.davis May 12, 2015

We recently published a blog about AMD Eyefinity Technology, which gives gamers the ability to combine multiple monitors to expand their gaming area. One of the areas we touched on was the economic argument in favor of a multiple-monitor setup over 4K1.

 

But economics aren’t the only potential consideration, and 4K monitors are getting more affordable all the time. It’s a subjective thing, but one thing’s for sure: for some gamers, only the ultra-sharp, crisp-as-a-winter-morning, eye-dazzling luminosity of 4K will do.

 

We can’t really blame them, but if you haven’t seen 4K for yourself there’s a decent chance you don’t get the fascination. That’s going to change in 3.. 2.. 1..

 

3.jpg4.jpg

The screen captures of Tomb Raider above show 1080p first then 4K below2.  The insets are actual size. The hardware, system settings and game detail settings have not changed. Notice the extra sharpness and detail, as well as improved aliasing in the 4K picture. Lines are crisper, textures are sharper and jaggies are reduced. This is the kind of image quality 4K helps make possible. It’s unquestionably a major breakthrough in the quest toward photo-realistic PC games.

 

And take a look at these shots below, showing a scene in Thief™ loaded with fine detail (the first image is 1080p, the second is 4K).

 

5.jpg7.jpg

The extra sharpness afforded by the higher pixel density of 4K is especially obvious in the detailed rug on the floor. And check out the sharpness of the items in the foreground of these Battlefield™ 4 screenshots when played in 4K (the first image is 1080p, the second is 4K):

8.jpg9.jpg

 

When you see images like these, it starts to become clear why some gamers are so eager to shell out the required premium for a 4K panel.

 

We couldn’t be happier for them. They’re the reason we created the AMD Radeon™ R9 290 Series  graphics cards, each one of which has at least 4GB of memory for an exceptional 4K experience .

 

It may still be early days for 4K, but its time is definitely coming. Now, quite literally, you can see why.

 

 


Jay Lebo is a Product Marketing Manager at AMD. His postings are his own opinions and may not represent AMD’s positions, strategies or opinions. Links to third party sites are provided for convenience and unless explicitly stated, AMD is not responsible for the contents of such linked sites and no endorsement is implied.

 

FOOTNOTES:

 

  1. Requires 4K display and content. Supported resolution varies by GPU model and board design; confirm specifications with manufacturer before purchase.
  2. All of the screenshots in this blog were taken with the same system, which included an i7-4960X CPU, an AMD Radeon™ R9 290X graphics card, ultra high detail settings.

 

 

*Originally posted by Jay Lebo in AMD Gaming on May 30, 2014 3:28:47 PM

accompanying-photo.jpg

Take a look at this photo. See that horizontal break halfway down?1 That break is called a “screen tear.” You’d never tolerate it in your still photographs, but screen tears are a constant torment for PC gamers. They come and go in a flash, but that’s enough to annoy.

 

Vertical synchronization, or v-sync, is the traditional solution to screen tearing, but it introduces its own problems. Project FreeSync helps solve tearing without those problems or the use of proprietary technology. Project FreeSync what gamers have been waiting for, but its benefits go beyond gaming.

 

MEET PROJECT FREESYNC

Computer monitors are refreshed at a constant rate, usually 60 times per second. On the other hand, game framerates are sporadic: the computer draws frames as fast as it can, and that varies constantly. Meanwhile, normal video content plays back at a steady rate, usually 23.976 frames per second.

As you can see, your content and your monitor are never in complete sync. That’s what causes the screen to "tear:" the monitor is being fed a new frame before it’s finished drawing the last one. For a variety of reasons, games are the worst offender.

 

Traditionally, we solve the gaming problem with vertical synchronization, or v-sync. When v-sync is on, the computer lets the monitor set the pace. The PC delivers frames only at intervals that fit the monitor’s refresh rate exactly; the content and monitor are now synced and the tears are gone.

But there’s a catch: when the game action picks up and your PC's framerate dips, the monitor may not receive a new frame from the GPU in time for its next refresh, so the monitor displays the current frame a second time. Where you might have had a tear in the picture with a higher framerate, now you have stuttering or lag. It's a short lag, but it's obvious and intolerable to many gamers. There are even ways to alleviate the stuttering with v-sync, but these methods introduce "input lag," or a delay between the time the player moves the mouse and the movement appears on-screen. These scenarios demonstrate a traditional wisdom that every attempt to fix the basic problem of "tearing" introduces problems of its own.

 

But there is a solution that upends traditional wisdom: allow the monitor's refresh rate to vary (e.g. 9-60 times per second), and let that refresh rate be controlled by and synchronized to the graphics card. That very ability was proposed by AMD to VESA, the standards body that oversees the DisplayPort specification. Our proposal was accepted and integrated into the DisplayPort 1.2a specification as a feature going by the name of "DisplayPort Adaptive-Sync."


Thanks to AMD's help, monitors that support the DisplayPort Adaptive-Sync specificationand there will be a lot of themwill feature dynamic refresh rates. To actually utilize the features of such a monitor, however, you need a graphics card and a graphics driver that can leverage the Adaptive-Sync feature to manage how the content and monitor are synchronized.

Project FreeSync is AMD's name for the complete solution: a compatible AMD Radeon™ graphics card, an enabled AMD Catalyst™ graphics driver, and an Adaptive-Sync-aware display. Together, these three pieces will abolish tearing, eliminate stuttering, and greatly reduce input latency.

 


Jay Lebo is a Product Marketing Manager at AMD. His postings are his own opinions and may not represent AMD’s positions, strategies or opinions. Links to third party sites are provided for convenience and unless explicitly stated, AMD is not responsible for the contents of such linked sites and no endorsement is implied.

 

FOOTNOTES:

1. This image is a simulation.



*Originally posted by Robert Hallock in AMD Gaming on May 29, 2014 5:03:00 PM

Mantle has consistently proven itself in a number of games and engines, to the extent that low-overhead APIs were one of the hottest topics at the 2014 Game Developer Conference. Microsoft announced DirectX® 12, a “console-like” iteration of their famous API that promises to streamline development and address programming overhead. Others talked low-overhead OpenGL™, and the practices that might need to be adopted to get there.

 

It’s important to highlight that AMD was an essential voice in both of these discussions, and the chronology plainly demonstrates that Mantle has been highly influential to both the theme and the existence of these discussions. Naturally, we are 100% behind any decision that provides the benefits of low-overhead game development accessible to more gamers and developers.

 

As DirectX® 12 games sits about 20 months away by Microsoft’s estimation (“holiday 2015”), there exists a long  period of time from today where game developers must prepare their studios for a future when all major graphics APIs seek to extract the same sort of benefits that Mantle has pioneered. As the industry’s only proven low-overhead API for PC graphics, Mantle stands ready and waiting to address that gap.

 

Beyond that point, we expect DirectX® 12 to be every bit the robust and powerful solution Microsoft has promised it will be. We know that because we, too, are a member of the consortium Microsoft assembled to help shape this and every other version of their API since the 1990s.

 

When DirectX® 12 lands in late 2015, millions of AMD Radeon™ products based on the GCN Architecture will be compatible on day one. Thanks to Mantle and our presence in the console space, AMD will also stand alone with a graphics architecture that has received years of attention from developers working with low-overhead graphics APIs.

 

Above all, Mantle will present developers with a powerful shortcut to DirectX® 12, as the lingual similarities between APIs will make it easy to port a Mantle-based render backend to a DirectX® 12-based one if needed or desired. In addition, Mantle developers that made the bold decision to support our historic API will be well-educated on the design principles DirectX® 12 also promises to leverage. Finally, we will ensure that tomorrow’s game engines have an easy time of supporting a Mantle render backend, just as talented devs are comfortable with supporting multiple backends today to better address the needs of gamers.

 

port_times.PNG.png

 

IN CONCLUSION

Over the last seven months, we have been quite transparent about the origins of Mantle rooted in requests from developers, the problems we hope to solve with Mantle, and the effect it has had on this incredible industry. In our communications, even within this very blog, we’ve also been open and honest about the nature of our data and the areas we’re still actively addressing to make Mantle an even better solution for problems in game development. And today, we’ve shared with you our vision for the future of graphics, along with Mantle’s place in that future.

 

We heartily welcome discussion and analysis of the nature of Mantle in ways that comprehensively and accurately consider both CPU-bound and GPU-bound scenarios. We also invite inquisitive and philosophical investigation into why Mantle’s adoption has been so rapid, why Mantle is gaining traction amongst the largest and most experienced development studios, and how Mantle has shaped the direction of the graphics industry as a whole.

 

Whatever the future ultimately holds, we at AMD are simply proud the industry is joining us in making faster hardware through smarter software. That was our prime philosophy since the day game developers came to us—as they did each hardware vendor—asking us for a better way. We’re glad others respect that philosophy, too, and we can’t wait to put our GPUs to work in support of that mission wherever it may go.


Robert Hallock does Technical Communications for Desktop Graphics at AMD. His postings are his 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.



*Originally posted by Robert Hallock in AMD Gaming on May 28, 2014 12:10:00 PM

Mantle is an API made in service to the game development industry, optimized to handle the performance challenges most often encountered by developers. A key challenge for these developers is engine performance that has been constrained by poor multi-core scaling or processing overhead, particularly in scenes with a large number of objects.

 

The performance benefits of Mantle are very important to industry titans like DICE and Crytek. Figures 1 and 2 reflect the efficiency gains that have captured their attention.


mantle_in_thief.png

FIGURE 1: The performance of the Mantle graphics API is extracting untapped performance from existing hardware by removing bottlenecks in CPU-bound scenarios.

 

Figure 1 shows the built-in benchmark mode for Thief, which is designed to deliberately pressure systems with a high number of draw calls including characters, weather, carts, stalls, reflections, complex shadowing and many more objects.

 

Behind the scenes, each object represents a “draw call,” or a moment in time when the CPU and GPU must communicate to put something on the screen for your enjoyment. Historically, the quantity of draw calls—the image quality and detail provided to you—has reached a software limit before the hardware limit. The money you are investing in powerful hardware has been hamstrung by software inefficiencies!

 

Mantle is specifically designed to address this case by significantly raising the draw call limit by up to 900%.1 While increasing the draw call limit does not necessarily yield an equivalent jump in FPS, the data in figure 1 certainly demonstrates big performance gains can be achieved when you allow for better parallelization.

 

HARDCORE GAMERS: A LOOK AT MANTLE & MULTI-GPU

Moving on to multi-GPU platforms, we enter into an area where hardware has been even more constrained by software, as limited multithreading capabilities must now be stretched thin across two graphics cards hungry to get data and do work—even at 1600p!

 

Visiting the “Angry Sea” mission in Battlefield 4™ with this configuration demonstrates a large performance delta between DirectX® 11 and Mantle, even when one of those graphics cards is using a driver allegedly tuned to improve performance by reducing driver overhead in DirectX® 11.


mantle_mgpu.png

FIGURE 2: The data reveals that Mantle better equips a processor to feed a hungry dual-GPU configuration than DirectX® 11.

 

We would be remiss if we didn’t put a fine point on this and remind you that this performance disparity represents a squandering of the money you invested in your hardware. Mantle isn’t just a way to increase detail or performance--it’s a return on your investment as a gamer.


ON THE TOPIC OF ROI

Another interesting trend arises from the data, in that the low-overhead benefits of Mantle are evidently unlocking the true performance of processors across the board, allowing contenders at very different prices to churn out approximately equal performance regardless of their retail cost. The importance of this trend, when extrapolated to an industry now focused on low-overhead APIs, cannot be understated.

 

mantle_cpu_prices.png
FIGURE 3: The AMD FX-8350 is $850.99 less expensive than the Intel Core-i7 4960X, but it’s faster in Thief, a game equipped with the Mantle graphics API.2

 

Consider the implications of a new landscape where the budgetary choices you make for your PC have been democratized by software that totally deemphasizes the importance of your processor decision (and, by extension, the corresponding motherboard).

 

What would that do to the cost of your system when low-overhead APIs like Mantle become the norm? Would you purchase a less costly CPU and a more powerful graphics card instead? Would you simply reduce the cost of your system, perhaps by several hundred dollars? Little has been discussed on this topic, but we invite you to consider it in greater detail in your communities and articles.

 


Robert Hallock does Technical Communications for Desktop Graphics at AMD. His postings are his 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.


FOOTNOTES:

  1. Testing performed at AMD Labs by isolating API CPU performance.  “Draw” defined as the minimum unique entity that can be rendered by an API draw command and a typical unique state associated with it.  Mantle performed an average draw of 0.36 microseconds over two CPU threads.  DirectX 11 performed an average draw of 3.89 microseconds over a single API thread and a single driver thread.  Mantle results discounted by 20% for conservatism (i.e. 3.89/0.36/1.2 = 9.00).    Test configuration:    Intel Core 2 CPU X9650 at 3GHz, 4 GB of PC2-6400 RAM, AMD Radeon HD 7970 video card with 3 GB VRAM. [MAN-36]
  2. Pricing data obtained from Newegg.com on 05 May, 2014. Intel Core i7-4960X ($1049.99). AMD FX-8350 ($199.99).



*Originally posted by Robert Hallock in AMD Gaming on May 28, 2014 12:03:10 PM

We’ve said much about Mantle’s goals and merits of late, but now it’s time to listen directly to the brilliant people who are actually in the business of making games.

 

Dan Baker, a partner at Oxide Games and the former graphics lead for Sid Meier’s Civilization® V, knows a thing or two about driver overhead and graphics APIs. In an interview conducted by MaximumPC regarding their Mantle-enabled “Nitrous” engine, he explained that Mantle is a cure for an industry that is in need of greater parallelization.

 

[…]APIs are still designed in this functional threading model where you have a series of processes that pass work back and forth to each other. The idea is that you have say, one thread for rendering, one thread for audio, one thread for gameplay, etc. This is really not a scalable way to build things,” Baker said.

 

“In situations where you have a shared L3 cache, you also create contention from all the different processes running, since they all access completely different memory. The industry continues to move to a job-based setup, where we have lots of tiny jobs that run asynchronously. This can now scale to a large number of CPUs, and we can fill up most of the previously unused time where one of the processors isn't doing something.”


On the topic of driver overhead, Baker’s insights were also particularly enlightening, noting that his team has been “completely limited in what [they] could do by driver overhead problems.” With Mantle, however, his team rapidly discovered that Mantle is such an elegant solution that it “dwarfs” the Direct3D 11 performance they could achieve in their engine with any hardware vendor.

 

The team at Firaxis, authors of the upcoming Civilization: Beyond Earth, unequivocally voiced the same opinion in a recent blog on Mantle: “Simply put, Mantle is the most advanced and powerful graphics API in existence.  It provides essentially the same feature set as DX11 or OpenGL, and does so at considerably lower runtime cost.”


For game developers, who live and breathe time-to-market pressures on their titles, Mantle has an added benefit. Mantle is their only opportunity to spend less time “tricking the system” to overcome software limitations, and more time getting on with the business of designing cool stuff for gamers. Our development partners have praised Mantle for reducing developmental complexity, which cannot always be said for API extensions or laborious code optimization efforts.

 

A notable proponent of this philosophy is Chris Roberts, CEO of Cloud Imperium Games and the brains behind Kickstarter sensation “Star Citizen.” In announcing support for Mantle, he noted that the API was key for achieving his vision without fighting the software to get there.

 

"AMD's Mantle will allow us to extract more performance from an AMD Radeon GPU than any other graphics API," Roberts said. "Mantle is vitally important for a game like Star Citizen, which is being designed with the need for massive GPU horsepower. With Mantle, our team can spend more time achieving our perfect artistic vision, and less time worrying about whether or not today’s gaming hardware will be ready to deliver it."


Firaxis also had something to say on this topic, noting that Mantle’s thinner abstraction layer empowers them to make better-informed game development decisions.

 

“The Mantle API is able to be backed by a very small, simple driver, which is thus considerably faster,” Firaxis said in their blog.  “It also means that this work, which must still be done, is done by someone with considerably more information.  Because the engine knows exactly what it will do and how it will do it, it is able to make design decisions that drivers could not.”


Dan Baker has a related philosophy, noting in his opening remarks (figure 1) at GDC14 that Mantle addresses fundamental development challenges that cannot addressed by a retrofit of an existing API.

 

mantle_retrofit.png

FIGURE 1: Dan Baker of Oxide Games said it plainly when he presented this slide at the 2014 Game Developer Conference: you can’t retrofit old APIs.


Baker continued this line of thinking in a recent blog, saying: “[…] many of the most experienced developers, Oxide included, had for years advocated a lighter, simpler API that did the absolute minimum that it could get away with. We believed we needed a teardown of the entire API rather than some modifications of current APIs.”

 

Johan Andersson, technical director of the Frostbite engine at DICE, has also praised Mantle for making development easier. That was the central theme of his keynote presentation at the APU13 developer conference late last year, which opened with exactly that sentiment (figure 2).

 

mantle_johan.png

FIGURE 2: An opening slide from Johan Andersson's keynote presentation at the AMD APU13 developer conference.


In review, it is evident that Mantle is addressing a clear need within the industry to reimagine or reinvent the graphics API, and to flush out tired problems that have long stifled game development. Together, AMD and top game developers are collaborating not only to undertake that effort, but to share the results widely throughout the gaming industry so that gamers of every stripe might ultimately benefit.

 

 


Robert Hallock does Technical Communications for Desktop Graphics at AMD. His postings are his 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.



*Originally posted by Robert Hallock in AMD Gaming on May 28, 2014 11:55:15 AM

samantha.davis

Mantle 101

Posted by samantha.davis May 12, 2015

In the six months since Mantle’s January launch, it has quickly grown to be incredibly successful: seven game developers have pledged support, four game engines have adopted and 20+ games will be Mantle-based. Within those figures, Crytek and AMD recently announced Mantle support in Cryengine, and AMD joined forces with 2K Games to bring Mantle support to Sid Meier’s Civilization®: Beyond Earth™. In addition, this month marked the start of the private beta program for the Mantle SDK, which boasts another 40 developers committed to exploring the benefits of our revolutionary API.

 

With all this momentum for Mantle, we thought it would be a good time to look forwards, backwards and sideways at Mantle to give a comprehensive view of  how and why it has achieved overwhelming industry praise. Let’s start, however, by looking at how Mantle reclaims lost performance for gamers.

 

With a basic implementation, Mantle was designed to improve performance in scenarios where the CPU is the limiting factor (so-called “CPU-bound” cases). CPU-bound scenarios are commonplace in gaming, as existing APIs are laden with heavy validation overhead, and have difficulty scaling out to multiple CPU cores. By addressing these problems, games developed with Mantle improve the experience for the majority of global PC gamers that have entry-level and mid-range processors.

 

Mantle achieves this through:

  • Low-overhead validation and processing of API commands
  • Explicit command buffer control
  • Close to linear performance scaling from reordering command buffers onto multiple CPU cores
  • Reduced runtime shader compilation overhead

 

Mantle is also designed to improve situations where high resolutions and “maximum detail” settings are used, although to a somewhat lesser degree, as thess settings tax GPU resources in a way that is more difficult to improve at the API level (so-called “GPU-bound” scenarios). While Mantle provides some built-in features to improve GPU-bound performance, gains in these cases are largely dependent on how well Mantle features and optimizations are being utilized by the developer. Some of those features include:

 

  • Reduction of command buffers submissions
  • Explicit control of resource compression, expands and synchronizations
  • Asynchronous DMA queue for data uploads independent from the graphics engine
  • Asynchronous compute queue for overlapping of compute and graphics workloads
  • Data formats optimizations via flexible buffer/image access
  • Advanced Anti-Aliasing features for MSAA/EQAA optimizations

 

For even more detail, we recently published our first whitepaper on Mantle. This 11-page brief contains essential technical information on the form and function of the Mantle graphics API. In addition, you might also read these recent blogs by Oxide Games and developer Josh Barczak, which detail some specific and significant ways Mantle is improving their development experience.

 

Altogether, these mechanisms have proven unquestionably attractive for a legion of game developers, to the extent that the first-year adoption rate for the Mantle API is projected to exceed the adoption rate of DirectX® 11 (see fig. 1 below).

 

api_adoption.PNG.png

FIGURE 1 - Industry interest in a picture: the number of games in development with Mantle support through Q1 2015.

 

We’re thrilled to see so many industry luminaries in active development with Mantle in its beta phase, as these studios have a vested interest in making the ideal, high-performance API for PC graphics. Throughout this process, we are discovering new opportunities to reduce inefficiency, and we’re evolving how we make better use of the technologies we have on-hand today.

 

As the famous lyrics go: “you ain’t seen nothin’ yet!”

 


Robert Hallock does Technical Communications for Desktop Graphics at AMD. His postings are his 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.

 

FOOTNOTES:

  1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_games_with_DirectX_10_support
  2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_games_with_DirectX_10_support
  3. AMD internal estimates




*Originally posted by Robert Hallock in AMD Gaming on May 28, 2014 11:42:43 AM

NOTE: This blog has been reprinted with permission from Firaxis Games. This blog originally appeared on the Firaxis dev-blog network on 28 April, 2014.

 

What is Mantle?

A “Graphics API” (Application Programming Interface) is a protocol that rendering engines use to send commands to a GPU (Graphics Processing Unit).  The API provides an abstract set of commands like “draw” which are translated by a GPU driver into commands which a particular device can understand.  At present, the two most well-known graphics APIs are DirectX and OpenGL.  DirectX is dominant on Windows, and OpenGL is dominant on many other platforms.

 

Mantle is a new graphics API developed by AMD, and supported on all newer AMD devices beginning with the Radeon HD 7000 series.

 

What is important about Mantle?

As game developers, we want to maximize our products’ reach while minimizing our development costs.  Why then, would we spend a great deal of time and effort in something that would benefit only a subset of our user base?  The idea of a platform-specific API, while not unheard of was not often implemented.  After all, why would anyone write their application twice, when they could write it once?

 

In software, the only numbers of significance are 0, 1, and N.  Every cross-platform graphics engine that we have ever worked with has been designed around some kind of API abstraction which separates the game code on top from the graphics platform on the bottom.  If the abstraction layer is well built, then the cost of maintaining two graphics platforms is not worse than the cost of one.  It is also important to understand that, with the right architecture, graphics APIs are essentially a fixed cost.  Mantle has required an up-front investment, but the cost for future products to continue offering it will be considerably lower.

 

Because Mantle is so new, and so different, the development cost is higher than normal.  In order to understand why it’s worth it, you need to understand just how important Mantle is.

 

What does Mantle buy you?

Simply put, Mantle is the most advanced and powerful graphics API in existence.  It provides essentially the same feature set as DX11 or OpenGL, and does so at considerably lower runtime cost.

 

The conventional wisdom in real-time rendering is that batches, or “draw calls” are expensive.  On the PC, with current APIs, this notion is firmly rooted in fact.  This is a problem that has plagued engine and driver design since at least the DX9 era, and a large body of real-time rendering tradecraft is motivated by it (instancing, state sorting, texture atlasing, texture arrays, “uber-shaders”, to name a few).  Civilization, it turns out, requires a significant amount of rendering to generate our view of the world, and that in turn means we are required to make many, many more draw calls than you might expect..  Our birds’ eye view of the world means that we have a lot more “stuff” on screen than is typical, and our UI (a rich source of draw calls) is considerably more complex than the average.

 

Mantle changes things by working at a lower level than its competitors.  Much of the work that drivers used to do on an application’s behalf is now the responsibility of the game engine.  This means that the Mantle API is able to be backed by a very small, simple driver, which is thus considerably faster.  It also means that this work, which must still be done, is done by someone with considerably more information.  Because the engine knows exactly what it will do and how it will do it, it is able to make design decisions that drivers could not.

 

Besides being more efficient, core per core, Mantle also enables fully parallel draw submission (this has been attempted before, but never with the same degree of success). Until now, the CPU work of processing the draw calls could only by executed on one CPU core.  By removing this limitation, Mantle allows us to spread the load across multiple cores and finish it that much faster.

 

All of this means that Mantle has, quite literally, reduced the cost of a draw call by an order of magnitude.  This is an amazing technical achievement and difficult for us to exaggerate the importance of this savings.  It is a disruptive technical development which will have far-reaching implications for PC gaming.  It will alter the dynamics of the market.  It will re-write portions of the real-time rendering book.  It will change the design of future APIs and engines and greatly enhance their capabilities.

 

What does this mean to the player?

By reducing the CPU cost of rendering, Mantle will result in higher frame rates on CPU-limited systems.  As a result, players with high-end GPUs will have a much crisper and smoother experience than they had before, because their machines will no longer be held back by the CPU.  On GPU-limited systems, performance may not improve, but there will still be a considerable drop in power consumption.  This is particularly important given that many of these systems are laptops and tablets.  The reduced CPU usage also means that background tasks are much less likely to interfere with the game’s performance, in all cases.

 

Finally, the smallness and simplicity of the Mantle driver means that it will not only be more efficient, but also more robust.   Over time, we expect the bug rate for Mantle to be lower than D3D or OpenGL.  In the long run, we expect Mantle to drive the design of future graphics APIs, and by investing in it now, we are helping to create an environment which is more favorable to us and to our customers.

 

What about these other vendors?

At present, the benefits of Mantle extend only to those customers which can run it.  We recognize that a large fraction of our customers will not have access to Mantle, and we do not intend to discriminate.

 

Our philosophy is to strive to use our customers’ machines to their fullest potential.  To the extent possible, DirectX customers will see the same images as Mantle customers, and we will provide DirectX customers with the highest performance that their systems are capable of.   It is precisely this motivation which impels us to offer Mantle to those customers who can use it, because their machines possess great untapped potential.   By tapping that potential, we hope to drive positive changes which will eventually spread to all of our other customers.

 

We expect that future graphics APIs will follow Mantle’s lead, and become much lower-level, out of necessity.  There is nothing preventing other vendors from following AMD’s example and offering low-level access to their own hardware, and we are perfectly willing to support such efforts.  One API is clearly better for us than many, but if having many allows us to maximize performance across the board, then that is where the future will take us.

 

In the irreverently paraphrased words of Sir Winston Churchill:

“If we can standardize it, all drawcalls may be free, and the life of the gamers may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands”.

 

That, dear friends, is why “I Am Mantle.”

 

Joshua Barczak and John W. Kloetzli Jr. are the Lead Graphics Engineer and Principal Graphics Programmer, respectively, for Sid Meier’s Civilization®: Beyond Earth™ at Firaxis Games. This posting contains their own opinion(s) and may not represent AMD’s positions, strategies or opinions. Links to third party sites are provided for convenience and unless explicitly stated, AMD is not responsible for the contents of such linked sites and no endorsement is implied.



*Originally posted by Robert Hallock in AMD Gaming on May 19, 2014 10:30:50 AM

amd_5milblog.jpg

Great news, AMD fans! The AMD Gaming Evolved Client powered by Raptr has surpassed 5 million users!  We blew past this tremendous milestone just last week and only eight months since the launch on September 25th, 2013. This now may be the world’s fastest growing gaming community. And this news gets even better: The AMD Gaming Evolved optimization tool has also left our competitor in the rear view mirror with a total of 189 games now officially supported!

 

THE GAMING EVOLVED CLIENT

In simple terms, the Client is an application that helps you improve your gaming experience – both on a technical level and a fun level!  At its core, the Client application helps optimize your games’ settings to take best advantage of the AMD hardware in your PC, whether you have an AMD Radeon™ graphics card or AMD A-Series APU. The Client application leverages the Raptr community  to crowd-source the optimum play settings for your games.  By reading what settings other gamers have with similar hardware, and by working through algorithms to determine best playable settings, the Client delivers accurate recommendations for the best quality, performance, or a balance of the two.

 

The Client is also a social hub for your gaming life, permitting interaction with your Facebook and Twitter connections, live streaming your gameplay to Twitch.tv, communication and tracking of your Steam, Xbox Live, PlayStation Network, Xfire friends, and more.  It even tracks your gameplay time to establish who is the most hardcore player in your circle of friends around the world. We also have driver update notifications built in to ensure you are getting the latest and greatest AMD Catalyst™ driver for your system.  And if all that isn’t enough, we even have the Rewards points program that rewards you just for playing games and using the client!

 

GET INVOLVED

If you would like to follow the community, it’s as simple as installing the Client on your desktop or notebook, or you can check out the AMD Gaming Community on the Raptr site here. We entered into a strategic relationship with Raptr, which already had a massive install base of 17M, to create a customized Client just for AMD that would include new and useful features beyond what Raptr had already built.

 

The AMD Gaming Evolved Client is constantly expanding, with new capabilities planned for this year to give you the best experience every time you play.  I strongly encourage you to try it out - you can find the Gaming Evolved Client on the AMD Game site, or automatically install it with your AMD Catalyst driver update. We pledged our unconditional support for the entire PC gaming industry to help keep it thriving and producing the great products that define our entertainment culture. AMD’s Gaming Evolved program confirms our promise to deliver the most innovative technologies, tools, and industry support to maintain the AMD PC platform as the world’s premier gaming environment.

 

Check out our video overview and the infographic below for highlights of all the incredible features of the AMD Gaming Evolved Client.

GamingEvolved_vs_GeForceExperience_final.png

 

Peter Ross is a Senior Product Marketing Manager at AMD. His postings are his own opinions and may not represent AMD’s positions, strategies or opinions. Links to third party sites are provided for convenience and unless explicitly stated, AMD is not responsible for the contents of such linked sites and no endorsement is implied.

 

 

*Originally posted by Peter Ross in AMD Gaming on May 14, 2014 12:38:38 PM

With the extreme popularity of AMD Radeon™ R9 Series graphics cards over the past few months, some gamers have found it hard to get their hands on these great products at suggested list prices.

 

We have good news! Supply has now caught up with demand, and for most retailers, street prices now match the original suggested list prices on the AMD Radeon™ R9 Series graphics cards.

 

If you’re unsure whether now’s the time to purchase an R9 Series graphics card, you needn’t worry. We’ve worked hard to make sure there are plenty of AMD Radeon™ graphics cards available in the market at suggested manufacturer prices for everyone to get one. Armed with Mantle, AMD TrueAudio technology and the recently refreshed Never Settle Forever game bundle, the AMD Radeon™ R9 Series graphics cards offer the performance and value in every segment from $179.99 to $1499!1

 

In addition to terrific availability and pricing, don’t forget these other great reasons to buy AMD Radeon™ graphics now:

  • AMD’s Mantle2 is a groundbreaking graphics API that promises to transform the world of game development to help bring better, faster games to the PC. For example, Mantle increases Battlefield 4™ performance by up to 23.8%.3 All AMD Radeon™ R9 Series GPUs include Mantle support.
  • AMD TrueAudio technology4 is available on the AMD Radeon™ R9 290, R9 290X and R9 295X2 graphics cards, and gives sound engineers the freedom to follow their imaginations and the power to make their games sound as convincing as they look. Hear a demonstration, or discover the significance this technology holds in a stealth-based game title like Thief.
  • The AMD Gaming Evolved Client powered by Raptr brings your games together in one place and through a crowd-sourcing approach adds one-click optimizations, game progress and system performance tracking, social sharing tools, easy driver updates and a steady stream of Rewards points just for playing. Join over 5 million other gamers and install it now.
  • Our Never Settle Forever game bundle lets you choose the games you want most from a large selection of AMD Gaming Evolved titles.. Get more details, including where to buy, right here.
  • AMD Eyefinity Technology5 makes it easy to achieve gaming areas way beyond HD by combining multiple monitors. You haven’t experienced real game immersion until you’ve gone beyond the boundaries of a single display.
  • Graphics Core Next architecture, which includes technologies like AMD PowerTune Technology and AMD ZeroCore Technology6, gives you the processing horsepower you need when you need it while conserving power and reducing temperatures and noise the rest of the time. All AMD Radeon™ R9 Series GPUs include these features.


And here’s a look at what press are saying:

 

  • “Overall, a great bundle update. I particularly like the addition of indie titles – kudos to AMD for that move.” – Rob Williams, Techgage
  • “Never Settle Forever continues to be a compelling choice offering incentives to potential AMD GPU buyers, and it’s nice to see AMD showing the indies — and their newer graphics cards — some love.” –Jason Evangelho, Forbes
  • “The pool of choices is bigger than ever and includes a couple of notable additions, including the upcoming Murdered: Soul Suspect and Thief. Also new are four prominent indie games...” –Scott Wasson, The Tech Report
  • “AMD's new Radeon R9 290 delivers quite impressive performance numbers. Right now, the R9 290 has the best price / performance ratio in the segment.” –"W1zzard," Techpowerup
  • “The Dual-X R9 280 OC plowed through our in game testing with great results making it a great choice for someone who is still on a limited budget and is gaming at 1080p.” –Wes Compton, LanOC Reviews
  • “In the end, this is the go-to card for ultra settings at 1080p, no question … If the performance delta isn’t enough to sway you, there’s word that the Never Settle Forever game bundle will be coming to the 200-series cards soon, too, making this card almost irresistible.” – Josh Norem, Maximum PC

 

There couldn’t be a better time to upgrade to the R9 Series of AMD Radeon™ graphics. It’s for gamers who demand the best.


Jay Lebo is a Product Marketing Manager at AMD. His postings are his own opinions and may not represent AMD’s positions, strategies or opinions. Links to third party sites are provided for convenience and unless explicitly stated, AMD is not responsible for the contents of such linked sites and no endorsement is implied.

 


FOOTNOTES:

  • Prices for AMD Radeon™ R9 Series cards on Newegg.com as of May 12, 2014
  • Application support for Mantle is required.
  • In playing Battlefield 4™ as of Feb 6, 2014, the AMD Radeon™ R9 290X GPU paired with an AMD FX-8350 APU saw an increase in frame rates from 52.90 to 65.5 frames per second with Mantle at 1080p, ultra detail settings, anisotropic filtering and anti-aliasing on. 2TB HDD, 4GB memory, AMD Catalyst 13.11 Beta 6 Performance Driver. MAN-3
  • AMD TrueAudio technology is offered on select AMD Radeon™ R9 and R7 200 Series GPUs and is designed to improve acoustic realism. Requires an enabled game or application. Not all audio equipment supports all audio effects; additional audio equipment may be required for some audio effects. Not all products feature all technologies—check with your component or system manufacturer for specific capabilities.
  • AMD Eyefinity technology supports up to six DisplayPort monitors on an enabled graphics card. Supported display quantity, type and resolution vary by model and board design; confirm specifications with manufacturer before purchase. To enable more than two displays, or multiple displays from a single output, additional hardware such as DisplayPort-ready monitors or DisplayPort 1.2 MST-enabled hubs may be required. A maximum of two active adapters is recommended for consumer systems. See www.amd.com/eyefinityfaq for full details.
  • AMD PowerTune and AMD ZeroCore Power are technologies offered by certain AMD Radeon™ products, which are designed to intelligently manage GPU power consumption in response to certain GPU load conditions. Not all products feature all technologies – check with your component or system manufacturer for specific model capabilities.



*Originally posted by Robert Hallock in AMD Gaming on May 13, 2014 2:01:41 PM

4k.png

On the stage in Hawaii last year, amidst the unveiling of the AMD Radeon™ R9 and R7 Series, we mentioned that our GPUs would be ready to support a new generation of UltraHD displays with so-called SST scalers. SST, or single stream transport, promised to make the configuration of 4K monitors easier by eliminating the need for stitching two halves of a display together in software – a staple of first-generation 4K displays. As of late, SST monitors have begun to appear in the market, and we wanted to take some time to talk about their benefits and performance on AMD Radeon™ graphics cards.

 

SINGLE-STREAM TRANSPORT (SST) vs. MULTI-STREAM TRANSPORT (MST)

When physical LCD panels capable of displaying 3840x2160 content hit the market, the underlying circuitry used to put content on the LCD wasn’t quite as advanced. Part of that circuitry is a critical component known as the “scaler,” which permits the monitor to render pictures at the LCD panel’s native resolution, or at a resolution chosen by the user. Not all monitors have scalers, but many do, especially 4K displays.

 

 

The scalers in first-generation 4K panels had a peak resolution of 1920x2160, which is exactly half the resolution of a 4K LCD. At a typical gaming refresh rate of 60 Hz, these scalers simply did not offer enough bandwidth to display a 3840x2160 image 60 times per second.

 

To address a 4K panel’s full resolution at 60 Hz, two scalers were used simultaneously. Each scaler powered half (1920x2160) of the LCD at 60 Hz, and the signals from these scalers were interleaved within a single DisplayPort™ cable, where an AMD Radeon graphics card would interpret the signal as two separate “tiles” that could be automatically stitched together into a single large surface (figure 2).

 

topology.png
FIGURE 2: The “Tiled Display Topology Data Block” standard was one mechanism AMD used to detect the presence of a tiled UltraHD display, then automatically stitch the tiles together for the user.

 

The technology to carry a signal for two or more monitors on a single cable is called MST, or “multi-stream transport,” a component of the DisplayPort 1.2 specification long supported by AMD Radeon graphics cards. MST is the same feature that has also allowed AMD Radeon GPUs to support multiple monitors from a single DisplayPort output via hubs or daisychaining for many years.1

 

While MST was a smart and effective solution to bring 4K panels to market at 60 Hz, the graphics industry was already hard at work to realize an ecosystem of support for UltraHD via SST, or “single-stream transport.” These new-generation scalers would have the bandwidth to drive a full 3840x2160 at 60 Hz as a single tile over DisplayPort, which would simplify configuration for the user and help reduce production costs and complexity for the manufacturer.

 

SUPPORTING 4K60 SST DISPLAYS

Monitors like the Samsung U28D590D (now available) and the upcoming Asus PB287Q are the first of many relatively affordable UltraHD monitors to feature scalers that support 3840x2160 at 60 Hz via SST. Supporting these displays in software, such as with the AMD Catalyst™ graphics driver, is not a trivial matter.

 

To date, gaming monitors have rarely (if ever) presented such a large rendering surface to the graphics driver. In fact, 2560x1600 monitors presented the largest contiguous block of pixels that would commonly be encountered by a gaming GPU. Every other display configuration, such as a tiled UltraHD display, or an AMD Eyefinity technology configuration, was a larger surface stitched together from many smaller surfaces. Programmatically speaking, all of these are distinct scenarios that must be accounted for with unique code.

 

Developing that unique code for these new 4K60 SST panels requires a close relationship with the scaler vendors driving these panels. In the case of the in-market Samsung U28D590D, the scaler vendor and AMD worked very closely with prototypical monitors to ensure that AMD Radeon™ graphics cards would be ready to support Samsung’s display when it debuted. More broadly, we are working with all top scaler vendors to ensure our Hawaiian promise that AMD Radeon™ graphics cards will always be the gold standard for UltraHD readiness.

 

BENCHMARKING SST 4K60

While individual graphics cards like the AMD Radeon™ R9 290X have architectural optimizations to support 4K resolutions, many gamers understandably turn to multi-GPU configurations (e.g. AMD CrossFire™ technology) to squeeze the most performance out of their shiny new UltraHD setup.

 

In the below performance comparison (figure 3) between the AMD Radeon™ R9 295X2 and SLI GeForce GTX 780 Ti, the benefit of AMD’s robust relationships within the display industry is clear: AMD Catalyst™ is ready to support high-performance gaming experiences on 4K60 SST displays, but our competition clearly has more work to do.


perf.PNG.png
FIGURE 3:
Multi-GPU gaming on a 4K60 SST display is significantly faster on AMD Radeon™ products thanks to our close relationships in the display industry.


THE GOLD STANDARD FOR ULTRAHD

With a rich history of pioneering new and exciting ways to game on large or multiple displays, we have spent months leveraging that expertise with a number of innovations that have established us as the undisputed leader in UltraHD gaming:

 

And now we are first to market with fully-functional, day-one support for the latest and greatest UltraHD panels with 60 Hz SST scalers. If nothing else, this represents our commitment to serve you – our  loyal and enthusiastic customers – with healthy engineering efforts to comprehensively support state-of-the-art gaming experiences.

 

(We’re gamers too. My cubicle neighbor would revolt if it didn’t work right. Frag on!)

 


Robert Hallock does Technical Communications for Desktop Graphics at AMD. His postings are his 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 Eyefinity technology supports up to six DisplayPort™ monitors on an enabled graphics card.  Supported display quantity, type and resolution vary by model and board design; confirm specifications with manufacturer before purchase.  To enable more than two displays, or multiple displays from a single output, additional hardware such as DisplayPort-ready monitors or DisplayPort 1.2 MST-enabled hubs may be required.  Maximum two active adapters supported. See www.amd.com/eyefinityfaq for full details.

 

 

*Originally posted by Robert Hallock in AMD Gaming on May 5, 2014 3:32:23 PM

At CES 2014 AMD announced our new AMD Radeon™ R9, R7, and R5 M200 series mobile GPUs.  There are some great new notebooks that are starting to roll out featuring these newly announced Radeon™ mobile GPUs.  Today I want to draw your attention to Alienware - they have released a powerful enthusiast gaming notebook; the Alienware 17 – that features the AMD Radeon™ R9 M290X series GPU.

 

The Alienware 17 notebook is a portable powerhouse that offers futuristic design and is built from the ground up for the ultimate gaming experience.

 

You can configure it the way you want! The great thing about Alienware systems is that they are customizable allowing you to choose the options you want. You can upgrade your CPU, add more memory, additional hard drives, and you can even have it overclocked for you right out of the box!

 



Here are some of the basic specs on this notebook:

  • Cutting edge design. Anodized aluminum shell, reinforced by a magnesium-alloy frame - protecting your display and the internal components
  • Graphics option: AMD Radeon™ R9 M290X
  • 17.3" WLED FHD (1920 x 1080) Anti-Glare Display
  • AlienFX Lighting Zones: 10 unique programmable zones with up to 20 distinct colors
  • Plenty of storage options for all your data requirements
notebook 1.png
notebook 2.pngnotebook 3.pngnotebook 4.png


A high performance gaming notebook needs powerful graphics.  With the AMD Radeon™ R9 M290X GPU AMD has you covered:
              

AMD Radeon™ R9 M290X Specs

Memory:

Up to 4GB GDDR5   Memory

Memory   Bandwidth:

153.6 GB/s   memory bandwidth

Peak Single   Precision Compute Throughput:

2304 GFLOPS   Single Precision compute power

Peak Double   Precision Compute Throughput:

144 GFLOPS   Double Precision compute power

Memory   Interface:

256-bit   GDDR5

Bus   Interface :

PCI Express 3.0   x16

API Support:

DirectX® 11.2, OpenGL   4.3, Mantle

 

The AMD Radeon™ R9 M290X also supports these key features/technologies:

AMD_videobadges.png

 

 

Alienware has a great reputation for building great systems, with the components you want, and giving you superb performance you need.  The Alienware 17 does not disappoint - you get all the speed and features you require for running your everyday applications, and get the most out of your favorite games for today and for tomorrow.

 

To find out more about the Alienware17 head over to Alienware: http://www.dell.com/us/p/alienware-17/pd?oc=dkcwj02s&model_id=alienware-17

 

To learn more about the AMD Radeon™ R9 M290X mobile GPU, head over to www.amd.com/mobileradeon

 

Till Next time.  Radeon™ Is Gaming!

 

Jay Marsden is a Product Marketing Manager at AMD.  His postings are his 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.



*Originally posted by Jay Marsden in AMD Gaming on Apr 16, 2014 3:17:30 PM

As a member of AMD’s graphics division, I’m surrounded by cool technologies each and every day: pre-release Mantle games, AMD TrueAudio tools and demos, UltraHD displays, liquid cooled rigs, wicked fast GPUs and more. I love each and every one of these technologies as an employee and a PC gaming enthusiast, but it’s not every day that these technologies come together at the same time or in the same place. The simultaneous intersection of these things would be a great occasion for me, often a tradeshow like E3 or GDC. But it just so happens that today is one of those “great occasions,” as I’ve received the honor of unveiling in this blog the coolest, quietest, fastest and most advanced graphics card we’ve ever built: the AMD Radeon™ R9 295X2.

pic1.png

pic2.pngENGINEERING GREATNESS

Over the years, you’ve told us that you want a no-compromise dual-GPU graphics card with two of the cores found on our fastest single-GPU graphics card. We heard you. The AMD Radeon™ R9 295X2 features two  AMD Radeon™ R9 290X ASICs (formerly codenamed “Hawaii XT”) in their full configuration: 2816 shaders running at up to 1018MHz. In fact, 1018MHz is faster than the qualified clockspeed of the AMD Radeon™ R9 290X.

The chips we selected for this product are the best of the best. And to ensure you get every last megahertz of that quality, we put these premium ASICs under an Asetek-built liquid cooling solution. Asetek is a name that needs little introduction, as many enthusiasts know they’ve spent 14 years perfecting the art of closed-loop liquid cooling solutions.

 

In the design we selected for the Radeon R9 290X2 , an integrated pump and waterblock assembly sits atop a high-turbulence plate. There’s one assembly for each chip on the board. To cool the loop, we selected a 120x120mm single thick radiator in a push configuration.

pic3.png

Moving to the exterior, we again went all-out to provide a genuinely premium experience. We started with a powder-coated machined aluminum shroud punched with industrial rivets. The shroud has form and function, as the aluminum improves thermal emissivity over that of a plastic shroud.

 

pic4.png

You also asked us to bring GPU backplates back into service, and we have. The AMD Radeon™ R9 295X2 has a full-length, solid metal backplate to stabilize the board, help prevent impact damage and aid heat discharge from the PCB of the product.

Finally, this wholly uncompromising  king of the mountain will demand an unapologetic 500W from a power supply. Users should be ready with a PSU that provides at least 28 amps on two separate 12 volt rails. We are confident that enthusiasts considering the AMD Radeon™ R9 295X2 will already be prepared, and will be rewarded accordingly with outrageous performance.

 

GAMING WITH GREATNESS

Putting such an extreme GPU to work requires extreme resolutions. The hardware resources of the AMD Radeon™ R9 295X2 will not be fully utilized with any resolution lower than 3840x2160. And at this resolution, I’m confident in saying the numbers speak for themselves: the AMD Radeon™ R9 295X2 is not only perfectly playable, it’s the unquestioned leader.

pic5.png

Beyond pure performance, there are a host of state-of-the-art technologies that come with the Radeon R9 290X2. First and foremost, this is the fastest Mantle-enabled graphics card on the market. Mantle is currently the world’s only proven and available low-overhead API for PC gaming, and you can try it at breakneck speeds. You’ll be on the forefront of an API revolution that is overtaking the graphics industry! Want to know more? Take a peek at Mantle’s benefits and design goals in our blog on that.

 

If audio is your thing, the AMD Radeon™ R9 295X2 can do audio. It comes equipped with full hardware support for AMD TrueAudio technology to enable positional 3D audio, realistic audio environments and rich soundfields in compatible games. You can learn more about this awesome technology by reading our most recent blog on the game Thief™.

 

If GPU architectures are your obsession, there’s a lot to love in our award-winning Graphics Core Next architecture. The AMD Radeon™ R9 295X2 features the latest and greatest iteration of that architecture to support new technologies like XDMA or the aforementioned AMD TrueAudio technology.

 

And display technologies? We have those in spades! Thanks to AMD Eyefinity technology, the AMD Radeon™ R9 295X2 natively supports up to five simultaneous displays without adapters.1 And if you throw in some DisplayPort™ 1.2 daisychaining or a DisplayPort™ hub, then you could have up to six displays at the same time! With the provided ports, you could even try your hand at some 12K gaming.

 

SPEAKING OF XDMA

AMD CrossFire™ Direct Memory Access (XDMA) is a new technology we unveiled with the AMD Radeon™ R9 290X GPUs to improve the communication between multiple GPUs. As the AMD Radeon™ R9 295X2 is a dual-GPU product, we can’t think of any better use for this technology! The below chart demonstrates the multi-GPU scaling factors we are achieving with this technology by comparing the performance of an AMD Radeon™ R9 295X2 against the performance delta between one and two graphics cards.

pic6.png


HAIL TO THE KING

The AMD Radeon™ R9 295X2 is the confluence of virtually every major desktop GPU technology AMD has developed for modern graphics cards. We packed all of that into a well-appointed graphics card that screams through games and benchmarks at UltraHD resolutions. What more can a gamer ask for? Nothin’. And that’s why you should bring one home for yourself when they’re available on-shelf at the end of April.

 


Robert Hallock is PR Manager for Gaming & Desktop Graphics at AMD.  His postings are his 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 Eyefinity technology supports up to six DisplayPort™ monitors on an enabled graphics card.  Supported display quantity, type and resolution vary by model and board design; confirm specifications with manufacturer before purchase.  To enable more than two displays, or multiple displays from a single output, additional hardware such as DisplayPort-ready monitors or DisplayPort 1.2 MST-enabled hubs may be required.  Maximum two active adapters supported. See www.amd.com/eyefinityfaq for full details.


 

*Originally posted by Robert Hallock in AMD Gaming on Apr 8, 2014 7:56:50 AM

samantha.davis

COMING SOON

Posted by samantha.davis May 12, 2015

new-teaser-shot--v3.png

 

 

*Originally posted by Stella Lee in AMD Gaming on Apr 3, 2014 12:39:52 PM

At AMD, we’re committed to enabling the best possible PC experiences, and today, we’re helping you bring your desktop PC experience with you on-the-go.

 

Recently, Splashtop® announced that their Splashtop Streamer application is now optimized for select AMD Radeon™ GPUs and APUs, allowing users to stream content, such as games and videos, from  their AMD-powered desktop PCs with super low latency.

 

Splashtop® Streamer is the ultimate remote desktop application for your PC, allowing you stream your Windows desktop to a variety of mobile devices running Windows, Android and iOS. You can remotely access your AMD-powered desktop PC from your notebook, tablet or phone so you can stay in the zone, virtually whenever and wherever. And of course, when you are connected to the same local area network as your PC, you can stream your favorite PC game to your mobile device and experience high quality graphics.

For a limited time, we are excited to announce a FREE bonus offer for the Splashtop® Remote Desktop Application to activate the configurable shortcuts and virtual joystick  (in-application add-ons). This is being offered as a bonus, opt-in option within the Never Settle Forever program when you purchase an eligible AMD Radeon™ graphics.

 

With our promo code for the configurable shortcuts and virtual joystick, you’ll enable configurable on-screen shortcuts for Microsoft Office apps, games, media players, browsing, file navigation and more. And with the virtual joystick (e.g. configurable game pad), you can transform your touch-driven tablet or phone into a portable remote gaming machine. This promotion code will also be bundled with select AMD A-Series APUs at a later date. See www.amd.com/neversettlefoeveroffer for more details.

 

Participants will have access to this service for a period of three months, from the time of activation. After three months, users can continue to continue paying Splashtop for the service, or use the Splashtop® Remote Desktop Application free of charge without the configurable shortcuts and virtual joystick.

We’re excited for this collaboration with Splashtop and hope you are too. Which desktop PC tasks are you most looking forward to bringing with you on-the-go?

 

 

Roger Quero is a senior technology manager at AMD. His postings are his 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.



*Originally posted by Stella Lee in AMD Gaming on Mar 24, 2014 3:14:00 PM

Last October, we took the stage in Hawaii to unveil the AMD Radeon™ R9 and R7 Series GPUs, announcing that select models supported an exciting new hardware feature: AMD TrueAudio technology. AMD TrueAudio is an AMD-exclusive technology that empowers game developers to create truly expansive and realistic audio environments. We are very excited to announce that many of you will be able to experience this incredible audio technology for yourself in today’s patch for Thief™! In addition, AMD Catalyst™ 14.3 Beta also adds driver support for the newly-added Mantle rendering engine in Thief.

 

Let’s take a look at both technologies to see how the AMD Catalyst 14.3 Beta driver makes the Thief experience even better for you!

 

A BRIEF PRIMER ON AMD TRUEAUDIO TECHNOLOGY

AMD TrueAudio technology is a hardware-level feature found on the AMD Radeon™ R9 290X, R9 290, R7 260X and R7 260 graphics cards. A small block of audio processing hardware is integrated directly into the graphics chips in these products. That audio processing hardware is called a “Digital Signal Processor,” or DSP.

A DSP is specialized silicon dedicated to the task of processing—you guessed it—digital signals. Example applications for a DSP include: audio compression, audio filtering, speech processing and recognition, simulating audio environments, creating 3D sound fields and more.

 

DSPs are fully programmable, which allows developers to creatively harness that hardware in ways limited only by their imagination and skill. We are striving with AMD TrueAudio to give game developers a blank canvas for new and never-before-heard audio environments and techniques. Fully programmable hardware was inspired by another pivotal moment in our history, when we helped transition the industry to programmable graphics chips in the mid-2000s—game art has been breathtakingly diverse ever since!

 

To enable this rich climate of imagination, we turned to Cadence IP and their portfolio of Tensilica Xtensa series DSPs. We licensed their technology to equip each AMD TrueAudio-capable graphics card with a trio of Xtensa HiFi EP (PDF) cores. Together, these three DSPs allow game developers to fully offload their game audio environment from the processor to our GPU.

blocks.png

Full offloading of a game’s audio engine is a key benefit of AMD TrueAudio technology. The hardware horsepower we provide to audio processing with the integrated DSPs is tremendous compared to the horsepower typically given to processor-based audio engines. In other words, audio engineers have historically received a very small portion of a processor’s overall performance to run their audio engines—one can only imagine how much this has stifled game audio innovation over the years! While it’s difficult to predict all the creative ways developers will take advantage of this new and powerful hardware, a wise man once said: “if you build it, they will come.”

chain.png

On a final note, we wanted to impress that AMD TrueAudio technology is compatible with any audio hardware you already own. AMD TrueAudio enters the audio chain at the application level, long before sound ever reaches your audio chip or audio endpoint (e.g. headphones). Whether you have integrated audio on the motherboard, a discrete sound card, or a standalone USB headset, AMD TrueAudio is already part and parcel of the audio stream that’s being fed to these devices by the game’s audio engine. And because it operates at the application level, AMD TrueAudio is fully aware of the game’s positional and environmental data. AMD TrueAudio technology is intrinsically able to provide audio data that fully reflects the game’s goings on.

 

For even more technical information on AMD TrueAudio technology, we encourage you to visit this MaximumPC interview with Carl Wakeland, the brains behind AMD TrueAudio technology at AMD.

 

thief.png

AMD TRUEAUDIO IN THIEF

With respect to Thief, AMD TrueAudio is utilized to calculate an effect called “convolution reverb.” Convolution reverb is a technique that mathematically simulates the echoes (i.e. reverberation) of a real-life location. This effect is accomplished by recording an “impulse response,” which is a snapshot of the echo characteristics of a real-world location. That impulse response is fed back into software that can recreate that behavior in a PC game.

Thief uses this technique to make buildings, cathedrals, alleyways and other in-game venues sound quite like they would in real life! In an environment where there are adjacent areas with different echo characteristics and impulse response (example: a cathedral adjacent to a cave and an open space), multiple convolution reverbs must be processed in parallel to create the most realistic sound environment. AMD worked closely with Eidos to process up to four convolution reverbs simultaneously with AMD TrueAudio technology, and you should try mission seven to get the best experience!

 

AMD TRUEAUDIO ELSEWHERE

In addition to Thief, today we will also release an AMD TrueAudio-enabled demo prepared by GenAudio and FMOD for the Occulus Rift. If you have one in your home, now would be a great time to break it out. If not, you can still experience the demo for yourself, but the graphics will be displayed as a stereo pair.

 

In this demo, called Tuscanny, AMD TrueAudio is utilized to calculate the spatialization of an audio environment. Spatialization is a technique that permits the audio engine to create a fully 3D soundfield on a stereo headset. This effect is powered by AstoundSound 3D RTI plugin by GenAudio, and it includes support for elevation, distance and positioning. Please watch this page for the download to become available.

 

A BRIEF PRIMER ON MANTLE

Mantle has been many years in the making by AMD, but we were not alone in this effort! Mantle was also directly shaped by the input we received from the greater game development community that has long sought a low-level graphics API for PCs.  We worked shoulder-to-shoulder with developers like Eidos Montreal to create Mantle in the image of their needs: a streamlined, robust, efficient API for modern graphics work. In fact, Mantle is the very first lower level API designed with input from game developers for their modern craft!

 

At the simplest level, Mantle is an Application Programming Interface (API), or a language that game developers can use to write code that creates the beautiful graphics on your screen. In its current iteration, the Mantle API uniquely leverages the hardware in the Graphics Core Next architecture (GCN) of modern AMD Radeon™ GPUs for peak performance.

 

More broadly, Mantle is functionally similar to DirectX® and OpenGL, but Mantle is different in that it was purpose-built as a lower level API. By “lower level,” it’s meant that the language of Mantle more closely matches the way modern graphics architectures (like AMD’s own GCN) are designed to execute code. The primary benefit of a lower level API is a reduction in software bottlenecks, such as the time a GPU and CPU must spend translating/understanding/reorganizing code on-the-fly before it can be executed and presented to the user as graphics. Mantle comes in contrast to the “high level API,” which offers broader compatibility with multiple GPU architectures, but does so at the expense of lower performance and efficiency.

 

For more information on the design goals of Mantle, we encourage you to visit the “Four Core Principles of Mantle” blog.

 

options.pngMANTLE GRAPHICS API IN THIEF

In Thief, Mantle is utilized to improve the graphics performance of many common PC configurations at a resolution of 1080p. Let’s look at the performance impact Mantle is making for systems like these.

First up, an entry-level gaming system based on the CPU in the new AMD A10-7700K APU (the on die GPU is disabled) and an AMD Radeon™ R7 260X graphics card. This is a sensible CPU/GPU combination that sees up to 23% more performance when Mantle is enabled in Thief. Even more importantly for these gamers, the “High Quality” graphics preset offers playable framerates with Mantle enabled! The data is clear: users with this class of system would have to opt for lower image quality if it weren’t for Mantle’s performance improvements.

260x_7700k.png

Next we’ll look at a mid/high-end gaming system based on the AMD FX-8350 and an AMD Radeon™ R9 280X graphics card. These users are already playing on the game’s highest graphics settings, but with Mantle they can do that with up to 19% higher framerates.

280X_FX8350.png

We even make the experience better for customers with an AMD Radeon-based Intel system. Below is another high-end gaming system based on the Intel Core i5-4670K and the AMD Radeon™ R9 290X Graphics. Gamers with a configuration like this could see up to 17% additional performance at 1080p!

290X_4670K.png

As you can see, Mantle is making a substantial difference for a huge cross-section of the buying public that plays their games at 1080p with very affordable CPU/GPU combinations. In some cases, Mantle is even granting gamers access to previously-unplayable graphics quality! We’re very pleased that our new, young graphics API is already having such a big effect for so many people.

 

RESOURCES FOR YOU

 

Robert Hallock is PR Manager for Gaming & Desktop Graphics at AMD.  His postings are his 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.


Correction Notice: The original edition of this blog reported that AMD TrueAudio technology utilized a HiFi 2 core in conjunction with three HiFi EP cores. The correct total is three HiFi EP cores and no HiFi 2 cores.



*Originally posted by Robert Hallock in AMD Gaming on Mar 17, 2014 11:46:54 PM

raptr1.png

AMD Gaming Evolved members (download the app here) can now use the app to claim over $5m-worth of amazing stuff from AMD Rewards in the just-launched Rewards Store!

 

Here’s how it works: You earn Rewards Points for activities like playing games, participating in the community, and using the Gaming Evolved app to optimize games. If you’ve been running the app for the last few weeks you probably already have a bunch -- possibly thousands -- of points saved up.

 

Then you can browse the Rewards Store in the AMD Gaming Evolved app and spend points on an ever changing inventory -- free games, hardware, discounts, sweepstakes entries, and much more!


raptr2.png

HOW TO EARN POINTS

You can earn points in tons of different ways. Signing up and verifying your email, points. Each time you optimize a new game, that’s points. And perhaps best of all, you earn points simply for playing games -- 5 RP the first time you fire up a game within a given 24 hours, and then 2 RP every 20 minutes for up to a max of 20 RP per day, which is roughly eight League of Legends ARAMs if, like me, that’s your preferred time measurement scale.

 

And to celebrate the launch of the Rewards Store, we’re tripling the rate of points you can earn from tracking your gameplay for a limited time!

 

Participating in Raptr’s community is another great way to earn points, and you can do it without even leaving the AMD Gaming Evolved app. Posting quality content to the community, connecting with other games, and discovering new community features are just some of the ways you can rack up more points.

 

We’ll continue to add more RP-earning actions with each update -- some of them may be unannounced and secret ways of earning RP, so keep an eye out!

 

WHAT'S IN THE STORE TODAY

Here’s some of the awesome free stuff we have in the Rewards Store at launch:

 

 

So head on over to the Rewards Store to see the full line-up, and get your free stuff now! And check back often, as we’ll have plenty to add to the inventory in the coming weeks.

 

 

*Originally posted by Robert Hallock in AMD Gaming on Feb 18, 2014 11:00:45 PM

raptr1.png

As a former pro gamer, I know how amazing PC gaming can be. But I also know the frustration of troubleshooting technical issues and the tedious trial-and-error of tweaking your settings when all you want to do is play. Say what you will about consoles, but their ease-of-use is generally tough to beat.

 

So when we started building the AMD Gaming Evolved app, we knew we had an opportunity to make PC gaming better -- to help you get the best gaming experience every time you play.

 

We’re approaching that in a few different ways. The AMD Gaming Evolved app now detects what video driver you’re using and will automatically let you know when a newer driver comes out, which, by itself, should avoid a lot of headaches. Our game optimization feature (see below for an in-depth walkthrough) helps you get the most out of your hardware without having to figure out the relative merits of triple buffering, anisotropic filtering, and 8x anti-aliasing, because that’s not a very fun way to spend your time.

 

The app also makes your life easier by eliminating the need to ALT-TAB. There’s a buddy list, IM, web browser, screenshot capture, and even livestreaming to Twitch all a click away while you’re playing.

 

UNDER THE HOOD: GAME OPTIMIZATION

 

Here’s how our game optimization works. The AMD Gaming Evolved app detects a player’s CPU, GPU, driver versions, operating system, and RAM. Then while recognized game’s running, it notes in-game graphics settings and tracks frames-per-second over time. That information, multiplied by millions of AMD owners running the app, forms the data set we use to recommend optimal settings for your rig.

 

Based on the performance of similar (and often identical) hardware set ups, the app finds set ups that are running at the highest image quality while maintaining a certain level of performance.  We can also tailor the performance to your preference: Quality to prioritize eye candy over fps, Performance to maximize fps, or Balanced.

 

Our optimization feature is in beta and we’re constantly working to improve it -- we have data for nearly a thousand graphics cards in the system already, with optimizations in place for nearly 70 games and more joining the list each week (up from about 20 when we soft-launched two months ago).

 

So far, 91% of gamers who use the app to optimize a game keep those settings -- and when people revert to their previous settings, we track that and look to see what we can tweak. And as more and more AMD owners run the app, the optimization settings will just get better and better.

 

NEVER LEAVE YOUR GAMES

 

raptr2.png
With the AMD Gaming Evolved app, you can access a range of features and tools in-game. Communicate with friends on AIM, Yahoo! Messenger, MSN, Google Talk, or Facebook chat. Browse the web, or read (and create) posts in the Raptr community for the game you’re playing at the moment. The app also includes a screenshot editor and uploader, so you can easily share screenshots without worrying about hosting them elsewhere.

 

You can also stream your gameplay directly to Twitch with the app. Our streaming feature is still in beta and not as option-packed as dedicated streaming software like OBS, but on the other hand, it’s incredibly easy to use. We’ll be rolling out more improvements to our streaming in the near future.

 

COMING SOON: REWARDS STORE

 

Another huge reason to use AMD Gaming Evolved -- we reward you just for playing the games you love. We recently added Reward Points to the app, and you can earn points in a variety of ways: playing games, optimizing games, even just signing up, and we’re adding many more. You can then exchange those points in our Rewards Store for free games, discounts, and even for hardware. The Rewards Store will launch very soon, but you can begin banking points right now!

 

So that’s where we’re at right now with the AMD Gaming Evolved app -- we hope you give it a try if you haven’t already, and that it improves your PC gaming experience. I’ll be back with more on the Rewards Store and new ways to earn Reward Points in the near future!

 

Raptr terms and conditions can be found here.

 

Guest blogger Dennis Fong is the CEO and Founder of Raptr, the leading community that helps connect more than 18 million gamers share and discover content about the games they love. Fong previously co-founded three companies: Xfire, an instant messenger designed for PC gamers that reaches over 15 million users (acquired by Viacom/MTV for $120 million); Lithium, the leading provider of Social CRM solutions for the enterprise; and Gamers.com, rated the #1 gaming portal by Nielsen in ’99.  Better known as “Thresh” in gaming circles as the world champion of Doom, Quake, and Quake II, Fong was called the “Michael Jordan of video games” by the Wall Street Journal and “King of the Gamers” by the Washington Post.  Fong was also the world’s first celebrity pro gamer and once won John Carmack’s Ferrari in a Quake tournament.


Dennis’ postings are his 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.



*Originally posted by Robert Hallock in AMD Gaming on Feb 14, 2014 1:40:24 PM

Today is a momentous day for the team behind AMD Radeon™ graphics, as we are proud to announce the official public availability of the AMD Catalyst™ 14.1 Beta driver, which features Mantle libraries to support the release of the Mantle-enabled patch for Battlefield 4™, along with the recent debut of the Mantle-based “Star Swarm” technical demo by Oxide Games. In addition, AMD Catalyst™ 14.1 delivers the promised "phase 2" frame pacing fixes for AMD CrossFire™ technology users!

 

A BRIEF PRIMER ON MANTLE

Mantle has been many years in the making by AMD, but we were not alone in this effort! Mantle was also directly shaped by the input we received from the greater game development community that has long sought a low-level graphics API for PCs.  We worked shoulder-to-shoulder with developers like DICE and Oxide Games to create Mantle in the image of their needs: a streamlined, robust, efficient API for modern graphics work. In fact, Mantle is the very first API designed directly by game developers for their modern craft!

 

At the simplest level, Mantle is an Application Programming Interface (API), or a language that game developers can use to write code that creates the beautiful graphics on your screen. In its current iteration, the Mantle API uniquely leverages the hardware in the Graphics Core Next architecture (GCN) of modern AMD Radeon™ GPUs for peak performance.

 

More broadly, Mantle is functionally similar to DirectX® and OpenGL, but Mantle is different in that it was purpose-built as a lower level API. By “lower level,” it’s meant that the language of Mantle more closely matches the way modern graphics architectures (like AMD’s own GCN) are designed to execute code. The primary benefit of a lower level API is a reduction in software bottlenecks, such as the time a GPU and CPU must spend translating/understanding/reorganizing code on-the-fly before it can be executed and presented to the user as graphics. Mantle comes in contrast to the “high level API,” which offers broader compatibility with multiple GPU architectures, but does so at the expense of lower performance and efficiency.

 

Before entering into performance analysis, however, we wanted to provide some new insight on the design goals of the Mantle API.

 

DESIGN PRINCIPLES OF MANTLE

First and foremost, Mantle is primarily designed to improve performance in scenarios where the CPU is the limiting factor (so-called “CPU-bound” cases); CPU-bound scenarios are legion in gaming, as existing APIs typically have heavy validation overhead, along with difficulty scaling out to multiple CPU cores. In addressing this common problem, Mantle can enable a pronounced improvement for the majority of global PC gamers that have entry-level and mid-range processors. Some of the techniques to achieve this include:

  • Low-overhead validation and processing of API commands
  • Explicit command buffer control
  • Close to linear performance scaling from recording command buffers onto multiple CPU cores
  • Reduced runtime shader compilation overhead

 

In turn, Mantle makes less of an impact in cases where high resolutions and “maximum detail” settings are used, as these settings are likely to be maximally taxing GPU resources in a manner that is more difficult to improve at the API level (so-called “GPU-bound” scenarios). While Mantle provides some built-in features to improve GPU-bound performance, gains in these cases are largely dependent on how well Mantle features and optimizations are being utilized by the developer. Some of those features include:

  • Reduction of command buffers submissions
  • Explicit control of resource compression, expands and synchronizations
  • Asynchronous DMA queue for data uploads independent from the graphics engine
  • Asynchronous compute queue for overlapping of compute and graphics workloads
  • Data formats optimizations via flexible buffer/image access
  • Advanced Anti-Aliasing features for MSAA/EQAA optimizations

 

It’s also prudent to note that Mantle is still in the beta phase and may not reflect the full performance we might be able to achieve through the optimization time we’ll be investing in the months ahead. And, as developers are still familiarizing themselves with Mantle and its relationship to Graphics Core Next, they may not have capitalized on all available opportunities for optimizations—but that will come with time.

 

One such optimization is the approach to multi-GPU performance scaling, which now rests in the hands of the game developer in the Mantle ecosystem. Developer control of multi-GPU performance empowers them to design an optimal multi-GPU codebase that perfectly matches the approach their rendering engine takes to graphics. Battlefield 4 is currently enabled with multi-GPU capabilities on Mantle, but the Oxide Games StarSwarm demo will be enabled with these capabilities in a later build.

 

MANTLE ON BATTLEFIELD 4

A game that needs no introduction, Battlefield 4 has captivated gamers with its intense multiplayer environments and, of course, the tremendous graphics courtesy of the game’s Frostbite 3™ engine. Augmented this week with Mantle, configuring Battlefield 4 to activate our API requires that you meet a few prerequisites:

Once these requirements have been met, you’re ready and Mantle is enabled! As for the performance uplift you might expect, the following diagrams are illustrative of the performance uplift you can expect from Mantle across a variety of processors. The data is demonstrative of what we’ve been promising since Mantle’s unveiling: a performance uplift across every scenario.

 

BF4_8350.pngBF4_7700K.png

BF4_4960X.pngBF4_4670K.png

 

MANTLE ON STAR SWARM

Star Swarm, meanwhile, is a technical demo developed by the incredible minds over at the new Oxide Games. Composed of industry veterans from Firaxis and Microsoft studios, the experienced artists and developers at Oxide have crafted the “Nitrous” engine to power a new generation of RTS titles, like the StarSwarm demo, with massive battlefields and a huge quantity of on-screen units—a perfect use case for Mantle!

 

Star Swarm is important because it shows the impact Mantle can make in scenarios with a high number of “draw calls,” which are instances where the GPU and the CPU must communicate to display any object you see on screen. Traditional game engines based on DirectX® typically hit a limit somewhere around 5000 draw calls (or lower, depending on the user’s CPU), demonstrating severe performance degradation beyond that point.

 

This performance degradation is due largely to the inability to efficiently utilize multiple CPU cores, which artificially limits the speed at which the CPU and GPU can communicate to do meaningful work. In contrast, the Star Swarm demo from the team at Oxide uses Mantle’s efficient multi-core scaling to raise that draw call limit into the neighborhood of up to 100,000 objects! With that in mind, tests performed on a range of CPUs demonstrate impressive performance improvements, even with significantly higher visual fidelity.


To test the Star Swarm demo from yourself, you’ll need to meet the following prerequisites:

 

Oxide_RTS_7700K.pngOxide_RTS_4670K.pngOxide_RTS_4960X.png

 

UPDATED FRAME PACING

Frame pacing is a technology that allows a multi-GPU configuration to deliver each frame of your game at consistent intervals. Even duration between each frame in your overall frame rate imparts a certain buttery smoothness that’s hard to describe in words, but luxurious to experience in-action in your favorite game.

 

Last year, we developed and released our own implementation of this technology for customers of AMD Radeon™ products in the AMD Catalyst™ 13.8 Beta driver. In that update, we enabled frame pacing for Graphics Core Next-based GPUs on resolutions up to 2560x1600 in DirectX® 10 and 11 applications. With that release, we also promised a “phase 2” driver that would address additional configurations, and we’re pleased to say that today is the day: AMD Catalyst™ 14.1 Beta is the promised “phase 2” driver!

 

AMD Catalyst™ 14.1 Beta brings new frame pacing support to the following AMD CrossFire™ or AMD Dual Graphics configurations when running DirectX® 10 and DirectX® 11 applications at resolutions higher than 2560x1600:

  • AMD Radeon™ R9 280X Graphics
  • AMD Radeon™ R9 270X Graphics
  • AMD Radeon™ R9 270 Graphics
  • AMD Radeon™ HD 7000 Series
  • AMD Radeon™ HD 7000M Series
  • AMD Radeon™ HD 8000 Series
  • AMD Radeon™ HD 8000M Series
  • These AMD Dual Graphics configurations
  • AMD Dual Graphics configurations using the new “Kaveri” APU with the AMD Radeon™ R7 240 or R7 250 GPUs

 

As a visual example of the benefits provided by frame pacing, we can plot out a real-world gaming scenario. The following diagram represents the time, in milliseconds, it took to render and display each frame to the user. To interpret the graph, look at the peaks and valleys: the line presenting fewer periods of frequent peaks and valleys, particularly fewer dramatic spikes, is representative of a smoother gaming experience.

 

The below image illustrates an AMD Dual Graphics configuration: pairing the new “Kaveri” APU and the AMD Radeon™ R7 250 to run Tomb Raider™. As you can see, the time to present a frame is noticeably improved with the AMD Catalyst™ 14.1 graphics driver (red line), which is consistently and significantly less erratic than its predecessor (blue).

 

tr_dgfx_frametimes.png

 

 

THE ROAD AHEAD

Throughout the months that have followed our October 2013 unveiling of Mantle, you have been patient and kind to us as the Mantle consortium labored to make the first release the best it could possibly be. Concurrently, your enthusiastic support on Facebook, Twitter and at trade shows has been real and personal encouragement for every person working on the API. While we can never truly repay your kindness with a piece of software, we hope that it goes into the world with no uncertain amount of gratitude for us. We thank you so very deeply for your support, and vow that we will bring support to the full breadth of Graphics Core Next GPUs in the months ahead.

 

More broadly, AMD Catalyst™ 14.1 can be a significant improvement for gamers with systems based on AMD CrossFire™ or Dual Graphics technologies, with the potential for vast enhancements to the overall fluidity of their DirectX® 10 and 11 gaming experiences.

 

As this is a beta driver, we’d like to sign off by noting that your feedback is vital to the future of the AMD Catalyst™ driver. Please report any bugs or issues to our official reporting form!

 

SUPPORTING RESOURCES

 

Robert Hallock is PR Manager for Gaming & Desktop Graphics at AMD.  His postings are his 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.


SYSTEM CONFIGURATIONS FOR BATTLEFIELD 4™ and STARSWARM:

  • Intel Core i7-4960X System: Intel X79 Chipset, 16GB DDR3-1600 RAM, Windows 7 x64, AMD Catalyst™ 14.1 graphics driver
  • Intel Core i5-4670K System: Intel z87 Chipset, 16GB DDR3-1600 RAM, Windows 7 x64, AMD Catalyst™ 14.1 graphics driver
  • AMD FX 8350 System: AMD 990FX chipset, 16GB DDR3-1600 RAM, Windows 7 x64, AMD Catalyst™ 14.1 graphics driver
  • AMD A10-7700K System: AMD A88X chipset, 16GB DDR3-1600 RAM, Windows 7 x64, AMD Catalyst™ 14.1 graphics driver


SYSTEM CONFIGURATION FOR TOMB RAIDER™ FRAME PACING:

AMD A10-7850K, AMD Radeon™ R7 250, 16GB DDR3-1600 RAM, Windows 7 x64, AMD Catalyst™ 14.1 graphics driver, Resolution: 1920x1080, Preset: High Quality



*Originally posted by Robert Hallock in AMD Gaming on Feb 1, 2014 10:07:4

In our industry, one of the toughest decisions we continually face is how open we should be with our technology. On the one hand, developing cutting-edge graphics technology requires enormous investments. On the other hand, too much emphasis on keeping technologies proprietary can hinder broad adoption.

 

It’s a dilemma we face practically every day, which is why we decided some time ago that those decisions would be guided by a basic principle: our goal is to support moving the industry forward as a whole, and that we’re proud to take a leadership position to help achieve that goal.

 

The latest example of that philosophy is our work with dynamic refresh rates, currently codenamed "Project FreeSync”. Screen tearing is a persistent nuisance for gamers, and vertical synchronization (v-sync) is an imperfect fix. There are a few ways the problem can be solved, but there are very specific reasons why we’re pursuing the route of using industry standards.

 

The most obvious reason is ease of implementation, both for us from a corporate perspective and also for gamers who face the cost of upgrading their hardware. But the more important reason is that it’s consistent with our philosophy of making sure that the gaming industry keeps marching forward at a steady pace that benefits everyone.

 

It sometimes takes longer to do things that way — lots of stakeholders need to coordinate their efforts — but we know it’s ultimately the best way forward. This strategy enables technologies to proliferate faster and cost less, and that’s good for everyone.

 

The same philosophy explains why we’re revealing technology that’s still in the development stage. Now’s our chance to get feedback from industry, media and users, to make sure we develop the right features for the market.  That’s what it takes to develop a technology that actually delivers on consumers’ expectations.

 

And Project FreeSync isn’t the only example of this philosophy and its payoffs. We worked across the industry to first bring GDDR5 memory to graphics cards— an innovation with industry-wide benefits. And when game developers came to us demanding a low-level API, we listened to them and developed Mantle. It’s an innovation that we hope will speed the evolution of industry-standard APIs in the future.

 

We’re passionate about gaming, and we know that the biggest advancements come when all industry players collaborate. There’s no room for proprietary technologies when you have a mission to accomplish. That’s why we do the work we do, and if we can help move the industry forward we’re proud to do it for everyone.

 

Jay Lebo is a Product Marketing Manager at AMD. His postings are his own opinions and may not represent AMD’s positions, strategies or opinions. Links to third party sites are provided for convenience and unless explicitly stated, AMD is not responsible for the contents of such linked sites and no endorsement is implied.



*Originally posted by Stella Lee in AMD Gaming on Jan 8, 2014 3:57:32 PM

A lesser-known feature of the AMD Radeon™ R9 290 and R9 290X is a new technology called AMD CrossFire™ Direct Memory Access, or “XDMA” for short. XDMA is a modernization of multi-GPU configurations that totally overhauls how these many GPUs communicate with one another and stay synchronized during intense gaming. Today we will explore how the feature functions, what problems it solves, and what scenarios it’s designed to accommodate.

 

Before we explore the drastic improvements presented with XDMA, however, we should first start by exploring the old way of performing multi-GPU communication.

 

Intenal Components.pngTHE OLD WAY OF DOING MULTI-GPU

 

Prior to the advent of XDMA, a “bridge” or “connector” of some fashion was required. This bridge was installed on the exterior of a graphics card, fitting onto small golden fingers protruding from the circuit board of the graphics card. You can see the connector to the right, where it has been installed on two AMD Radeon™ HD 7970 GHz Edition GPUs .

 

An external bridge was considered a modern solution that gave two (or more) GPUs the ability to communicate on a very important task: copying data between the GPUs to show you a rendered frame of your favorite game.

 

While the external bridge has been an effective multi-GPU solution for many years in the graphics industry, we are coming on an era when that is no longer the case. To wit, the bandwidths provided by today’s bridge solution are insufficient to fully accommodate the new generation of high-resolution 4K displays. As the AMD Radeon R9 290 and R9 290X are designed with this resolution in mind, it was time to bring in a fresh approach to multi-GPU systems.

 

MODERN MULTI-GPU WITH XDMA

 

Picture7.pngAt a principle level, XDMA dispenses with the external bridge by opening a direct channel of communication between the multiple GPUs in a system. This channel operates over the very same PCI Express® bus in which your AMD Radeon graphics cards are currently installed. The exclusive function of that bus is to shuttle graphics data between GPUs and your processor, so it’s already well suited to the new task of collecting and showing the data each GPU is working on when playing games.

 

It just so happens that the PCI Express bus also provides a tremendous amount of bandwidth—far more than can be allocated to today’s external bridges! As noted by Anandtech in their comprehensive analysis of XDMA, the bandwidth of an external bridge is just 900MB/s, whereas PCI Express® can provide up to 32GB/s with a PCIe 3.0 x16 slot (about 35x more bandwidth).

 

In dynamically taking a portion of that superhighway to negotiate rendering with multiple GPUs, AMD CrossFire can efficiently negotiate UltraHD scenarios. This is one of the many reasons why we say that the AMD Radeon R9 290 and R9 290X are uniquely suited, at a hardware level, for gaming at 3840x2160.

 

Diving more deeply into the technology, XDMA specifically and directly connects the “display controllers” on the respective GPUs in an AMD CrossFire configuration. These display controllers are responsible for taking a rendered scene in a game from the GPU pipeline and formatting it to send over the display cable to a monitor. XDMA provides an easier and more extensible method of transferring the frame from the GPU it was rendered on, to the GPU driving the display cable, using the high bandwidth of PCIe, while avoiding extra connectors and cables.

 

FACTS ABOUT XDMA

 

Rather than dig through more technical jargon, we wanted to jump to some essential facts that we wanted you to know about this great technology:

  • XDMA is a unique solution in the graphics industry; no similar technologies presently exist for consumer GPUs.
  • In case you didn’t catch it, XDMA eliminates the need to install any bridge. Install matching GPUs and you’re set!
  • XDMA is designed for optimal performance with systems running PCI Express 2.0 x16 (16GB/s), PCI Express 3.0 x8 (16GB/s), or PCI Express 3.0 x16 (32GB/s).
  • Bandwidth of the data channel opened by XDMA is fully dynamic, intelligently scaling with the demands of the game being played, as well as adapting to advanced user settings such as vertical synchronization (vsync).
  • Designed for UltraHD via DisplayPort™, which permits for 2160p60 gaming on the AMD Radeon R9 290 Series.
  • XDMA fully supports the “frame pacing” algorithms implemented into the AMD Catalyst™ driver suite.
  • Products without XDMA are scheduled to receive a new AMD Catalyst driver in January that will resolve uneven frame pacing as a symptom of the more limited bandwidth provided by an external bridge.


In short, XDMA is the world’s newest and most modern approach to negotiating the communication of multiple GPUs for peak gaming performance with the ultra-high-resolution displays of tomorrow.


Robert Hallock is PR Manager for Gaming & Desktop Graphics at AMD.  His postings are his 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.



*Originally posted by Robert Hallock in AMD Gaming on Jan 3, 2014 11:20:00 AM