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Radeon™ rules in Star Wars™ Battlefront™

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Benjamin Franklin once said that there were only two certain things in life: death and taxes. Given his era, I suppose we can forgive him for not knowing about the third thing: Radeon™ graphics crushin’ it in Star Wars™ Battlefront™.

Yes, my friends, it wasn’t that long ago when the Internet exploded with joy as the Star Wars™ Battlefront™ trailer hit at E3 2013. Over the past 18 months, gamers and Star Wars fans have (im)patiently waited for the day they could finally visit worlds like Sullust. But here at AMD, we had a different job during that time: we worked shoulder-to-shoulder with our friends at EA and DICE to ensure that the Battlefront experience is unrivalled when you sit down this week to play on a Radeon™ GPU.

Radeon™ graphics exclusively powered the PC reveal of Star Wars™ Battlefront™ at San Diego Comic Con 2015.


Over the past two weeks we’ve been doing the shakedown cruise on that collaboration, and the results couldn’t be any clearer: if you want the highest framerates in Star Wars™ Battlefront™, you want a Radeon™ GPU.1


And if you’re the sort of person that doesn’t have an AMD FreeSync™-enabled monitor, then you might want to sustain even higher framerates. The below table shows the combinations of GPUs, resolutions and in-game quality presets that can keep average performance around 60 FPS.



Many gamers have wondered how Star Wars™ Battlefront™ runs so well all the way up to 4K, especially considering how beautiful the graphics really are. “Overwhelming effort to optimize the PC experience” is the simplest explanation, but there are three specific technologies that play the largest role in the final product.


Physically based rendering is a term that encompasses all the important aspects of correctly modeling and simulating how light interacts with the surfaces and materials seen in the game.

In order to achieve such a high level of realism, artists from DICE travelled to many real-world locations that best approximate the planets in the Star Wars galaxy. Surfaces from those location were photoscanned to accurately gather the exact diffuse and reflective properties of materials like basalt and snow. This real-world data is fed straight into the Frostbite™ Engine and lit according real-world parameters for light sources.

DICE Senior Level Artist Pontus Ryman traversing the barren landscapes of Iceland for inspiration on Sullust.

For example, the sun produces about 1.6 billion candela per square meter of luminance (or “brightness”) at noon, while a TV might produce around 400 candela per square meter—quite the difference!  But up until now, this enormous difference hasn’t been correctly represented in most games. The lighting calculations in Star Wars™ Battlefront™ are significantly more involved than previous lighting models, but the simulations are free of fudge factors and approximations, as everything is accurately based on the real world. The Frostbite™ renderer uses a powerful combination of complex compute shaders and pixel shaders to achieve this.


The terrains in Star Wars™ Battlefront™ are highly detailed, using a combination of high resolution textures and geometry that is hardware tessellated and then displacement-mapped. The degree of tessellation executed by a Radeon™ GPU is intelligently determined based on the roughness of the terrain and the distance to the camera. This adaptive detail scaling helps keep the cost of the scene within a sensible performance budget while still delivering spectacular visuals.



Screen space ambient occlusion is a technique that analyzes the scene for areas that should receive less ambient light. It searches for areas where there are corners, cracks and crevices in the geometry and effectively dials back the quantity of light being project into that space. The ambient occlusion technique used in previous Frostbite™ games has now been improved, optimized and moved from the graphics pipeline to the compute pipeline, which will run particularly well on the powerful compute hardware of the GCN architecture.



Over the past 18 months, I’ve had the privilege to play one small role amongst thousands at EA, DICE, LucasArts, Disney and AMD—and so many more—working to usher in a new era of Star Wars on the PC. As both a lifelong Star Wars fan and a PC gamer, it’s been the opportunity of a lifetime.


Now comes the best part of all: staying up way later than I should playing Star Wars™ Battlefront™ in 4K on my Radeon™ R9 Fury X GPU from the comfort of my own gaming rig!

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.


Testing conducted by AMD performance labs as of November 11, 2015 on Radeon™ R9 Fury X GPU vs. GTX 980 Ti vs. Radeon™ R9 390X GPU at 4K resolution with average scores of FPS 57.2 vs 52.03 vs. 46.3. PC manufacturers may vary configurations yielding different results. System configuration:  Core i7-5960X, Gigabyte X99-UD4, 16GB DDR4-2666, Windows 10 Pro x64, AMD Catalyst™ 15.11.1, ForceWare 358.91. Endor Survival stage. [GRDT-93]

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