AMD Launches Massive Radeon Driver Update 17.7.2

July 27, 2017 12:11 pm0 commentsViews: 3

AMD released the latest version of its Radeon Software Crimson ReLive Edition (whew) last night, with a significant performance and feature boost for Team Red GPU owners. It’s part of a significant transformation in how AMD handles its drivers that kicked off in earnest back in November 2015, with the launch of Radeon Software Crimson Edition. From 2012 to 2015, AMD adhered to a limited driver release schedule with periodic updates and more driver betas provided as opposed to more frequent (monthly) updates. The company’s more recent policy has been to release much faster updates, with 17 drivers published so far this year, mostly as optional updates to improve performance in specific titles.

The new 17.7.2 driver contains multiple features and capabilities AMD GPU owners may wish to take advantage of. In response to user feedback, AMD has reorganized driver settings and offered options like per-monitor color settings while allowing users to set the color depth and pixel formats. Radeon ReLive, AMD’s recording software, has been updated to slash its performance overhead by up to 33 percent, while simultaneously offering more options like HUD transparency and audio controls. This is a fairly strong push to appeal to streamers, but we’ve seen AMD make similar arguments with its Ryzen CPUs and how they handle streaming compared with Intel Core i5 CPUs.

Radeon Chill has received a substantial update, with a list of supported titles that’s now 40-strong, compared with the 17 games supported when the feature launched. AMD now supports Radeon Chill in multi-GPU configurations and when used via its external GPU standard, XConnect.

Enhanced Sync is a feature AMD appears to have added to compete against Nvidia’s rival technology, Fast Sync. In both cases, the goal is to prevent screen tearing without the stuttering that can occur when a monitor is capped at 60 FPS (V-Sync enabled), but the GPU is pushing 2-3x as many frames.

AMD threw the kitchen sink at this update, quoting everything from improved frame rates in Linux titles to highlighting its own work reducing GPU latency, claiming substantial improvements in responsiveness over time. We’ve put together a slideshow discussing these updates and improvements, shown below. Click to view an enlarged slide in a new window.

AMD is also promising some major developer features, with a Radeon GPU Profiler that the company describes as follows:

[The] first PC graphics visualization tool which allows for low level, built-in hardware thread tracing, and takes the next step in helping PC game developers by enabling support for modern APIs such as DirectX 12 and Vulkan. PC game developers now have unprecedented, console-like in-depth access to a GPU and can easily analyze Async Compute usage, event timing, pipeline stalls, bottlenecks and other performance inefficiencies.

The company is also launching a new Radeon Software Vanguard Beta Tester program for certain selected participants to give direct feedback and feature improvement ideas. AMD has stated that this pool will be drawn from both gamers and professionals (presumably this means developers), and that they’ll be granted early access to Radeon Software releases for play testing and bug finding.

For years, AMD struggled to match Nvidia software in terms of feature sets or Day 1 game support. Allowing for the fact that some features are emphasized and deployed differently between GPU manufacturers — AMD, for example, went for multi-monitor and widescreen configurations with its Eyefinity program a few years back, while Nvidia backed 3D gaming more aggressively than AMD did — we’re seeing something much more like parity. That’s good for the market, it’s good for gamers, and ultimately, it’s good for AMD.

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