While AMD’s graphics hardware has largely remained competitive with rival Nvidia, the software side of things has fallen behind for a while. A large part of this is due to Nvidia’s GameWorks software, a proprietary set of tools that helps developers implement features. While AMD cards can run GameWorks optimization is near impossible to do and AMD cards generally get crippled by it. Today, AMD is hitting back with GPUOpen, a comparable library of tools they will be open-sourcing.
With the open source GPUOpen, the permissive MIT-licence will allow developers to optimize for both AMD and Nvidia and still use only one set of tools. AMD is hoping this will mean developers will be more likely to pick GPUOpen over GameWorks and optimize more for AMD cards. AMD has included equivalents to most of GameWorks, with TressFX, ShadowFX, GeometryFX and AOFX. It will also feature a number of other tools like a rendering engine, ray-tracing SDK, cloud SDK and AMD’s CodeXL debugger and performance profiler.
The final prong is a new open-source Linux driver. Right now, the Linux driver comes in two flavours with the closed source one performing well ahead of the open-source on. Moving into the future, the AllOpen stack will have open-sourced OpenGL graphics, motion video codecs, and OpenCL GPU computation. The Professional/Gamer stack will have an open source motion video codec, but closed source OpenGL and OpenCl modules. Over time, the OpenCL module will bring in Vulkan which will then be open sourced while the OpenGL module will remain closed-source.
Combined with the earlier Boltzmann Initiative, AMD is making big strides with their software development. Combined with their new Crimson Catalyst software suite, AMD is putting forward a new face to consumers and developers. With this, AMD may be able to reinvent themselves and make others see them in a new light.