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Tuesday, February 28, 2017
GDC 2017: AMD Unveils Vega Retail Name, Partners With Bethesda And Talks About Asynchronous Reprojection


AMD did not showcase the Radeon Vega GPUs at GDC on Tuesday, but the company's "Capsaicin & Cream" livestream unveiled, among other, that the brand name for Vega GPUs will indeed be "Radeon RX Vega," rather than RX 490 or RX 580.



AMD announced that they are ready to launch GPU support for the Vive/SteamVR's asynchronous reprojection feature. Analogous to Oculus's asynchronous timewarp feature, asynchronous reprojection is a means of reprojecting a combination of old frame data and new input data to generate a new frame on the fly if a proper new frame will not be ready by the refresh deadline: Rather than redisplaying an old frame and introducing judder to the user, a warped version of the previous frame is generated, based on the latest input data, so that the world still seems to be updating around the user and matching their head motions. The solution can make VR more bearable if a game can't quite keep up with the 90Hz refresh rate the headset demands.

This feature relies on the GPU, as the SteamVR runtime and GPU driver need to quickly dispatch and execute the command for reprojection to make sure it gets done in time for the next display refresh. Valve launched this feature back in November, however at the time this feature was only available on NVIDIA-based video cards. So for AMD Vive owners, this will be a welcome addition. AMD in turn will be enabling this in a future release of their Radeon Software, with a target release date of March.

In addition, AMD announced that it has been working with Epic Games on improving VR support in the Unreal Engine. Standard deferred rendering has a performance cost and doesn't work nicely with MSAA antialiasing in VR. The newfound support will appear in version 4.15 of Epic's widely used Unreal Engine 4.

Meanwhile, the company has also announced that they have inked a major technology and marketing partnership deal with publisher Bethesda. The companies aren't inking a partnership over just one or two games, but rather they have formed what AMD is presenting as a long term, deep technology partnership.

The biggest focus here for the two companies is on Vulkan, Khronos's low-level graphics API. AMD and Bethesda want to get Vulkan in all of Bethesda's games in order to leverage the many benefits of low-level graphics APIs we've been talking about over the past few years.

AMD will be providing Bethesda's studios with engineers and other resources to help integrate Vulkan support and whatever other features the two entities want to add to the resulting games.

AMD has also announced Vega's retail name. It will be.. Vega. The company is going to brand the video cards based on their Vega architecture GPUs under the Vega name, e.g. Radeon RX Vega.

Finally, while AMD isn't releasing any extensive new details about their forthcoming Vega GPUs at the show, they are announcing that they've already landed a deal with a commercial buyer to use these forthcoming GPUs. LiquidSky, a game service provider who is currently building and beta-testing an Internet-based game streaming service, is teaming up with AMD to use their Vega GPUs with their service.

AMD also announced that its High Bandwidth Cache Controller (HBCC), a feature introduced by its Vega GPU architecture to improve memory management, will increase game performance tangibly. The company did a side-by-side comparison between two sessions of "Deus Ex: Mankind Divided," in which a HBCC-aware machine purportedly presented 2x better minimum FPS, and 1.5x better average FPS scores, than a non-HBCC-aware system.

AMD also went on to show how HBCC seemingly halves memory requirements, by deliberately capping the amount of addressable memory on the HBCC-aware system to only 2 GB - half of the 4 GB addressable by the non-HBCC-aware system, while claiming that even so, the HBCC-enabled system still showed "the same or better performance" through its better memory management and bandwidth speeds.



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