AMD’s graphics cards have been prone to severe stuttering in the past thanks to lacklustre implementations of their Crossfire technology. While it does work, there are issues with frame delivery including timing issues with frames that are delivered too early or too late in the graphics rendering pipeline. The company has identified the causes of these issues and has finally announced a release for the driver on 31 July 2013.
AMD and Nvidia have had multiple issues running two graphics cards in the past. While Crossfire and SLI worked in terms of how they sped up games and allowed gamers to bump up the quality settings, the experience wasn’t always good. Nvidia has been trying to solve the performance issues through extra hardware, while AMD has typically relied on their drivers to fix things up to an acceptable level. Both have now turned to frame metering as a permanent solution.
Frame pacing or frame metering forces the graphics cards to deliver new frames in a timely manner but also introduces some input lag, a necessary tradeoff to keep games running smoothly. The Geforce GTX690 was the first ever dual-GPU product that worked perfectly out of the box thanks to frame metering for SLI.
AMD has been working on a frame pacing driver since January and revealed how much things had changed when they launched the Radeon HD7990 and seeded reviewers with a prototype driver that was using alpha code. The drivers showed that the company’s frame pacing driver will improve performance dramatically, putting the HD7990 above the performance its competitors offer.
Although it’s over a month away, some of the code used for the driver has been leaked in a very early alpha version of the next Catalyst beta driver. Its version number is 126.96.36.199 and it introduces smoother frame rates and better performance in many games, but improves things more for Crossfire users than anything else. Although the driver is expected to mainly fix issues for the HD7000 family, it’s possible that AMD will retroactively apply their software fixes to the HD6000 and HD5000 family.
AMD is expected to benefit gamers thanks to their hardware being included in all three next-gen consoles along with hugely improved relations with developers. AMD recently became the main hardware partner for DICE, showing off Battlefield 4 gameplay using products such as the dual-GPU Radeon HD7990 and a fully specced set of AMD rigs with FX processors and dual HD7970 cards at DICE’s Battlefield 4 multi-player demonstration at E3 2013.