Q. What is AMD FreeSync™ technology?
A. AMD FreeSync™ technology is an AMD effort to leverage industry standards, like DisplayPort Adaptive-Sync, to deliver dynamic refresh rates. Dynamic refresh rates synchronize the refresh rate of a compatible monitor to the framerate of a user’s AMD Radeon™ graphics to maximally reduce input latency and reduce or fully eliminate stuttering/juddering/tearing during gaming and video playback.
Q. What is DisplayPort Adaptive-Sync?
A. DisplayPort Adaptive-Sync is a new addition to the DisplayPort 1.2a specification, ported from the embedded DisplayPort v1.0 specification. DisplayPort Adaptive-Sync provides an industry-standard mechanism that enables real-time adjustment of a monitor’s refresh rate of a display over a DisplayPort link.
Q. How are DisplayPort Adaptive-Sync and AMD FreeSync™ technology different?
A. DisplayPort Adaptive-Sync is an ingredient DisplayPort feature that enables real-time adjustment of monitor refresh rates required by technologies like AMD FreeSync™ technology. AMD FreeSync™ technology is a unique AMD hardware/software solution that utilizes DisplayPort Adaptive-Sync protocols to enable user-facing benefits: smooth, tearing-free and low-latency gameplay and video. Users are encouraged to read this interview to learn more.
Q. Is DisplayPort Adaptive-Sync the industry-standard version of AMD FreeSync™ technology?
A. The DisplayPort Adaptive-Sync specification was ported from the Embedded DisplayPort specification through a proposal to the VESA group by AMD. DisplayPort Adaptive-Sync is an ingredient feature of a DisplayPort link and an industry standard that enables technologies like AMD FreeSync™ technology.
Q. What are the requirements to use AMD FreeSync™ technology?
A. To take advantage of the benefits of AMD FreeSync™ technology, users will require: a monitor compatible with DisplayPort Adaptive-Sync, a compatible AMD Radeon™GPU with a DisplayPort connection, and a compatible AMD Catalyst™ graphics driver. AMD plans to release a compatible graphics driver to coincide with the introduction of the first DisplayPort Adaptive-Sync monitors.
Q. When can I buy a monitor compatible with AMD FreeSync™ technology?
A. AMD has undertaken every necessary effort to enable AMD FreeSync™ technology in the display ecosystem. Monitor vendors are now integrating the DisplayPort Adaptive-Sync specification and productizing compatible displays. AMD is working closely with these vendors to bring products to market, and we expect compatible monitors in the 4Q14-1Q15 timeframe.
Q. Which AMD Radeon™ GPUs are compatible with AMD FreeSync™ technology?
A. AMD FreeSync™ technology will utilize DisplayPort Adaptive-Sync protocols to enable dynamic refresh rates for video playback, gaming and power-saving scenarios.
All AMD Radeon™ graphics cards in the AMD Radeon™ HD 7000, HD 8000, R7 or R9 Series will support AMD FreeSync™ technology for video playback and power-saving purposes. The AMD Radeon™ R9 295X2, 290X, R9 290, R9 285, R7 260X and R7 260 GPUs additionally feature updated display controllers that will support dynamic refresh rates during gaming.
AMD APUs codenamed "Kaveri," "Kabini," "Temash," "Beema" and "Mullins" also feature the necessary hardware capabilities to enable dynamic refresh rates for video playback, gaming and power-saving purposes. All products must be connected to a display that supports DisplayPort Adaptive-Sync.
It is our current understanding that the software architecture of select games may not be compatible with dynamic refresh rate technology like AMD FreeSync™ technology. In these instances, users will be able to toggle the activation of FreeSync in the AMD Catalyst™driver.
Q. How is AMD FreeSync™ technology different from NVIDIA G-Sync?
A. There are three key advantages AMD FreeSync™ technology holds over G-Sync: no licensing fees for adoption, no expensive or proprietary hardware modules, and no communication overhead.
The last benefit is essential to gamers, as AMD FreeSync™ technology does not need to poll or wait on the display in order to determine when it’s safe to send the next frame to the monitor.
AMD FreeSync™ technology uses industry-standard DisplayPort Adaptive-Sync protocols to pre-negotiate supported min/max refresh rates during plug’n’play, which means frame presentation to the user will never be delayed or impaired by time-consuming two-way handshakes.
Q. Why should gamers purchase a system that utilizes AMD FreeSync™ technology?
A. AMD FreeSync™ technology’s ability to synchronize the refresh rate of a display to the framerate of a graphics card can eliminate visual artifacts that many gamers are especially sensitive to: screen tearing, input lag, and stuttering. AMD FreeSync™ technology aims to accomplish this through an open ecosystem that does not require licensing fees from participants, which encourages broad adoption and low end-user costs.
Q. What is the supported range of refresh rates with AMD FreeSync™ technology and DisplayPort Adaptive-Sync?
A. AMD Radeon™graphics cards will support a wide variety of dynamic refresh ranges with AMD FreeSync™ technology. Using DisplayPort Adaptive-Sync, the graphics card can detect and set an appropriate maximum and minimum refresh rate based on the capabilities reported by the display. Potential ranges include 36-240Hz, 21-144Hz, 17-120Hz and 9-60Hz.
Q. What is the basic function and benefit of AMD FreeSync™ technology?
A. The basic benefit of AMD FreeSync™ technology is the dynamic refresh rate ("DRR"), which allows the graphics card to synchronize the refresh rate of a monitor 1:1 with the framerate of an AMD Radeon™ GPU. With DRR, gamers can experience the full range of framerates produced by a graphics card without clamping to some divisor of the monitor’s refresh rate (e.g. 30 or 45 FPS). Because AMD FreeSync™ technology can eliminate the large jumps in framerates induced by traditional v-sync, the result in noticeably smoother gameplay.
Gamers especially sensitive to input latency — a delay between mouse movement and cursor movement — will also see a distinct increase in responsiveness.
Finally, running a game at full framerates (e.g. without v-sync) would typically introduce nasty horizontal tearing, but AMD FreeSync™ technology also eliminates tearing as a rule. AMD FreeSync™ technology is a "best of all worlds" solution from the perspective of smoothness, image quality and responsiveness.
Q. How does AMD FreeSync™ technology utilize DisplayPort™ Adaptive-Sync to determine the period of time a frame is displayed to the user?
A. An AMD Radeon™ graphics card compatible with AMD FreeSync™ technology uses the DisplayPort™ Adaptive-Sync specification to automatically determine the minimum and maximum refresh rates supported by a dynamic refresh-ready system. Using this approach, no communication must occur to negotiate the time a current frame remains on-screen, or to determine that is safe to send a new frame to the monitor.
By eliminating the need for ongoing communication with pre-negotiated screen update rates, AMD FreeSync™ technology can execute highly dynamic changes in frame presentation intervals without incurring communications overhead or latency penalties.
Q. Will every monitor eventually support AMD FreeSync™ technology?
A. AMD has undertaken efforts to encourage broad adoption for AMD FreeSync™ technology, including:
- Royalty-free licensing for monitor vendors;
- Open and standardized monitor requirements (e.g. no non-standard display controllers or ASICs);
- Industry-standard implementation via the DisplayPort Adaptive-Sync amendment to the DisplayPort 1.2a specification; and
- Interoperability with existing monitor technologies.
AMD is presently advocating these benefits to display vendors and working with their respective design teams to expand the capabilities of high-performance/gaming-oriented monitor lineups to include AMD FreeSync™ technology. While AMD cannot possibly guarantee that "every monitor" will adopt AMD FreeSync™ technology in time, we do believe that this approach is best to achieve wide industry support.
Additionally, it must be established that all dynamic refresh rate technologies require robust, high-performance LCD panels capable of utilizing a wide range of refresh rates without demonstrating visual artifacts. Such LCD panels naturally cost more to manufacture and validate than less capable panels, which may render dynamic refresh rate technologies economically unviable for especially cost-conscious monitors. Economies of scale and the maturation of dynamic refresh rate technologies could help alleviate this concern and further promote adoption in the future.
Learn more: What is the difference between AMD FreeSync™ technology and DisplayPort Adaptive-Sync?
Q. Is it true that the AMD Catalyst™ driver must predict the vblank interval with AMD FreeSync™ technology?
A. With AMD FreeSync™ technology, an AMD Radeon™ graphics card directly controls display timings. Direct control eliminates the need for polling or waiting on the display, which could impact latency and performance.
Upon connecting a AMD FreeSync™ technology-enabled monitor to a compatible AMD Radeon™ graphics card, the minimum and maximum times between the display of new frames (the vblank period) is exposed to the GPU via DisplayPort Adaptive-Sync. Because the minimum/maximum vblank period is known to the graphics card, successive frames will intelligently be sent within those boundaries. Predictive or speculative timing is not required under this model, and the GPU will adjust the display's refresh rate to match the current frame rate.
If an upcoming frame is delivered outside of the monitor's supported vblank period, that frame will be immediately presented on-screen when available to ensure the fastest possible screen update.
Q. You recently announced that three scaler vendors will adopt DisplayPort™ Adaptive-Sync. Can you describe the significance of this event?
A. Virtually all monitors feature circuitry known as a “scaler,” which governs the interaction between the graphics card and the physical LCD panel. This essential circuitry also provides user-facing features like: audio output capabilities, display interfaces (e.g. DisplayPort™ or HDMI®), and the “OSD” (settings menu). AMD has recently entered collaboration with the industry’s largest scaler vendors (MStar, Novatek and Realtek) to create a range of monitor scalers ready for DisplayPort™ Adaptive-Sync by year end; these scalers will pave the way for retail monitor designs that offer compatibility with AMD’s FreeSync™ technology in 1Q15.
Q. What monitors support AMD FreeSync™ technology?
A. As of February 16, 2015, the following monitors are compatible with AMD FreeSync™ technology. Prices and availbility dates are determined by their respective manufacturers, and will be announced by these vendors at a later date:
23.6", 28", 31.5"