Do AMD Drivers Really Deserve Such a Hostile Reception?

Introduction


AMD has a serious image problem with their drivers which stems from buggy, unrefined updates, and a slow release schedule. Even though this perception began many years ago, it’s still impacting on the company’s sales and explains why their market share is so small. The Q4 2015 results from Jon Peddie Research suggests AMD reached a market share of 21.1% while NVIDIA reigned supreme with 78.8%. Although, the Q4 data is more promising because AMD accounted for a mere 18.8% during the last quarter. On the other hand, respected industry journal DigiTimes reports that AMD is likely to reach its lowest ever market position for Q1 2016. Thankfully, the financial results will emerge on April 21st so we should know the full picture relatively soon. Of course, the situation should improve once Polaris and Zen reach retail channels. Most importantly, AMD’s share price has declined by more than 67% in five years from $9 to under $3 as of March 28, 2016. The question is why?

Is the Hardware Competitive?


The current situation is rather baffling considering AMD’s extremely competitive product line-up in the graphics segment. For example, the R9 390 is a superb alternative to NVIDIA’s GTX 970 and features 8GB VRAM which provides extra headroom when using virtual reality equipment. The company’s strategy appears to revolves around minor differences in performance between the R9 390 and 390X. This also applied to the R9 290 and 290X due to both products utilizing the Hawaii core. NVIDIA employs a similar tactic with the GTX 970 and GTX 980 but there’s a marked price increase compared to their rivals.

NVIDIA’s ability to cater towards the lower tier demographic has been quite poor because competing GPUs including the 7850 and R9 380X provided a much better price to performance ratio. Not only that, NVIDIA’s decision to deploy ridiculously low video memory amounts on cards like the GTX 960 has the potential to cause headaches in the future. It’s important to remember that the GTX 960 can be acquired with either 2GB or 4GB of video memory. Honestly, they should have simplified the process and produced the higher memory model in a similar fashion to the R9 380X. Once again, AMD continues to offer a very generous amount of VRAM across various product tiers.

Part of the problem revolves around AMD’s sluggish release cycle and reliance on the Graphics Core Next (GCN) 1.1 architecture. This was first introduced way back in 2013 with the Radeon HD 7790. Despite its age, AMD deployed the GCN 1.1 architecture on their revised 390 series and didn’t do themselves any favours when denying accusations about the new line-up being a basic re-branding exercise. Of course, this proved to be the case and some users managed to flash their 290/290X to a 390/390X with a BIOS update. There’s nothing inherently wrong with product rebrands if they can remain competitive in the current market. It’s not exclusive to AMD, and NVIDIA have used similar business strategies on numerous occasions. However, I feel it’s up to AMD to push graphics technology forward and encourage their nearest rival to launch more powerful options.

Another criticism regarding AMD hardware which seems to plague everything they release is the perception that every GPU runs extremely hot. You only have to look on certain websites, social media and various forums to see this is the main source of people’s frustration. Some individuals are even known to produce images showing AMD graphics cards setting ablaze. So is there any truth to these suggestions? Unfortunately, the answer is yes and a pertinent example comes from the R9 290 range. The 290/290X reference models utilized one of the most inefficient cooler designs I’ve ever seen and struggled to keep the GPU core running below 95C under load.

Unbelievably, the core was designed to run at these high thermals and AMD created a more progressive RPM curve to reduce noise. As a result, the GPU could take 10-15 minutes to reach idle temperature levels. The Hawaii temperatures really impacted on the company’s reputation and forged a viewpoint among consumers which I highly doubt will ever disappear. It’s a shame because the upcoming Polaris architecture built on the 14nm FinFET process should exhibit significant efficiency gains and end the concept of high thermals on AMD products. There’s also the idea that AMD GPUs have a noticeably higher TDP than their NVIDIA counterparts. For instance, the R9 390 has a TDP of 275 watts while the GTX 970 only consumes 145 watts. On the other hand, the Fury X utilizes 250 watts compared to the GTX 980Ti’s rating of 275 watts.

Eventually, AMD released a brand new range of graphics cards utilizing the first iteration of high bandwidth memory. Prior to its release, expectations were high and many people expected the Fury X to dethrone NVIDIA’s flagship graphics card. Unfortunately, this didn’t come to fruition and the Fury X fell behind in various benchmarks, although it fared better at high resolutions. The GPU also encountered supply problems and emitted a large whine from the pump on early samples. Asetek even threatened to sue Cooler Master who created the AIO design which could force all Fury X products to be removed from sale.

The rankings alter rather dramatically when the DirectX 12 render is used which suggests AMD products have a clear advantage. Asynchronous Compute is the hot topic right now which in theory allows for greater GPU utilization in supported games. Ashes of the Singularity has implemented this for some time and makes for some very interesting findings. Currently, we’re working on a performance analysis for the game, but I can reveal that there is a huge boost for AMD cards when moving from DirectX11 to DirectX12. Furthermore, there are reports indicating that Pascal might not be able to use asynchronous shaders which makes Polaris and Fiji products more appealing.

Do AMD GPUs Lack Essential Hardware Features?


When selecting graphics hardware, it’s not always about pure performance and some consumers take into account exclusive technologies including TressFX hair before purchasing. At this time, AMD incorporates with their latest products LiquidVR, FreeSync, Vulkan support, HD3D, Frame rate target control, TrueAudio, Virtual Super resolution and more! This is a great selection of hardware features to create a thoroughly enjoyable user-experience. NVIDIA adopts a more secretive attitude towards their own creations and often uses proprietary solutions. The Maxwell architecture has support for Voxel Global Illumination, (VGXI), Multi Frame Sampled Anti-Aliasing (MFAA), Dynamic Super Resolution (DSR), VR Direct and G-Sync. There’s a huge debate about the benefits of G-Sync compared to FreeSync especially when you take into account the pricing difference when opting for a new monitor. Overall, I’d argue that the NVIDIA package is better but there’s nothing really lacking from AMD in this department.

Have The Drivers Improved?


Historically, AMD drivers haven’t been anywhere close to NVIDIA in terms of stability and providing a pleasant user-interface. Back in the old days, AMD or even ATI if we’re going way back, had the potential to cause system lock-ups, software errors and more. A few years ago, I had the misfortune of updating a 7850 to the latest driver and after rebooting, the system’s boot order was corrupt. To be fair, this could be coincidental and have nothing to do with that particular update. On another note, the 290 series was plagued with hardware bugs causing black screens and blue screens of death whilst watching flash videos. To resolve this, you had to disable hardware acceleration and hope that the issues subsided.

The Catalyst Control Center always felt a bit primitive for my tastes although it did implement some neat features such as graphics card overclocking. While it’s easy enough to download a third-party program like MSI Afterburner, some users might prefer to install fewer programs and use the official driver instead.

Not so long ago, AMD appeared to have stalled in releasing drivers for the latest games to properly optimize graphics hardware. On the 9th December 2014, AMD unveiled the Catalyst 14.12 Omega WHQL driver and made it ready for download. In a move which still astounds me, the company decided not to release another WHQL driver for 6 months! Granted, they were working on a huge driver redesign and still produced the odd Beta update. I honestly believe this was very damaging and prevented high-end users from considering the 295×2 or a Crossfire configuration. It’s so important to have a consistent, solid software framework behind the hardware to allow for constant improvements. This is especially the case when using multiple cards which require profiles to achieve proficient GPU scaling.

Crimson’s release was a major turning point for AMD due to the modernized interface and enhanced stability. According to AMD, the software package involves 25 percent more manual test cases and 100 percent more automated test cases compared to AMD Catalyst Omega. Also, the most requested bugs were resolved and they’re using community feedback to quickly apply new fixes. The company hired a dedicated team to reproduce errors which is the first step to providing a more stable experience. Crimson apparently loads ten times faster than its predecessor and includes a new game manager to optimize settings to suit your hardware. It’s possible to set custom resolutions including the refresh rate, which is handy when overclocking your monitor. The clean uninstall utility proactively works to remove any remaining elements of a previous installation such as registry entries, audio files and much more. Honestly, this is such a revolutionary move forward and AMD deserves credit for tackling their weakest elements head on. If you’d like to learn more about Crimson’s functionality, please visit this page.

However, it’s far from perfect and some users initially experienced worse performance with this update. Of course, there’s going to be teething problems whenever a new release occurs but it’s essential for AMD to do everything they can to forge a new reputation about their drivers. Some of you might remember, the furore surrounding the Crimson fan bug which limited the GPU’s fans to 20 percent. Some users even reported that this caused their GPU to overheat and fail. Thankfully, AMD released a fix for this issue but it shouldn’t have occurred in the first place. Once again, it’s hurting their reputation and ability to move on from old preconceptions.

Is GeForce Experience Significantly Better?


In recent times, NVIDIA drivers have been the source of some negative publicity. More specifically, users were advised to ignore the 364.47 WHQL driver and instructed to download the 364.51 beta instead. One user said:

“Driver crashed my windows and going into safe mode I was not able to uninstall and rolling back windows would not work either. I ended up wiping my system to a fresh install of windows. Not very happy here.”

NVIDIA’s Sean Pelletier released a statement at the time which reads:

“An installation issue was found within the 364.47 WHQL driver we posted Monday. That issue was resolved with a new driver (364.51) launched Tuesday. Since we were not able to get WHQL-certification right away, we posted the driver as a Beta.

GeForce Experience has an option to either show WHQL-only drivers or to show all drivers (including Beta). Since 364.51 is currently a Beta, gamers who have GeForce Experience configured to only show WHQL Game Ready drivers will not currently see 364.51

We are expecting the WHQL-certified package for the 364.51 Game Ready driver within the next 24hrs and will replace the Beta version with the WHQL version accordingly. As expected, the WHQL-certified version of 364.51 will show up for all gamers with GeForce Experience.”

As you can see, NVIDIA isn’t immune to driver delivery issues and this was a fairly embarrassing situation. Despite this, it didn’t appear to have a serious effect on people’s confidence in the company or make them re-consider their views of AMD. While there are some disgruntled NVIDIA customers, they’re fairly loyal and distrustful of AMD’s ability to offer better drivers. The GeForce Experience software contains a wide range of fantastic inclusions such as ShadowPlay, GameStream, Game Optimization and more. After a driver update, the software can feel a bit unresponsive and takes some time to close. Furthermore, some people dislike the notion of GameReady drivers being locked in the GeForce Experience Software.  If a report from PC World is correct, consumers might have to supply an e-mail address just to update their drivers through the application.

Before coming to a conclusion, I want to reiterate that my allegiances don’t lie with either company and the intention was to create a balanced viewpoint. I believe AMD’s previous failures are impacting on the company’s current product range and it’s extremely difficult to shift people’s perceptions about the company’s drivers. While Crimson is much better than CCC, it’s been the main cause of a horrendous fan bug resulting in a PR disaster for AMD.

On balance, it’s clear AMD’s decision to separate the Radeon group and CPU line was the right thing to do. Also, with Polaris around the corner and more games utilizing DirectX 12, AMD could improve their market share by an exponential amount. Although, from my experience, many users are prepared to deal with slightly worse performance just to invest in an NVIDIA product. Therefore, AMD has to encourage long-term NVIDIA fans to switch with reliable driver updates on a consistent basis. AMD products are not lacking in features or power, it’s all about drivers! NVIDIA will always counteract AMD releases with products exhibiting similar performance numbers. In my personal opinion, AMD drivers are now on par with NVIDIA and it’s a shame that they appear to be receiving unwarranted criticism. Don’t get me wrong, the fan bug is simply inexcusable and going to haunt AMD for some time. I predict that despite the company’s best efforts, the stereotypical view of AMD drivers will not subside. This is a crying shame because they are trying to improve things and release updates on a significantly lower budget than their rivals.

Nvidia GeForce 364.47 Drivers May Cause Massive Issues

After the release of Nvidia’s GeForce 364.47 driver, some users are reporting a host of issues, most notably BSODs. During the installation, some users are experiencing a black screen and a failed installation, then a crash. The system then fails to properly boot Windows afterwards. Despite the WHQL certification, it seems that this bug managed to sneak past Nvidia’s bug testing.

According to the latest user reports, it seems that booting into safe mood and manually removing all of the driver files solves the issue. For those who haven’t updated, using Display Driver Uninstaller to uninstall the driver, then manually deleting all the driver files before installing 364.47 seems to prevent the issue from popping up. Some users are also reporting that multi-monitor systems are also running into the issues more often so running a single display to install seems prudent.

These issues have popped up in recent months after a good period of stable drivers. Perhaps Nvidia should reconsider how they test their drivers in the future. Hopefully, this issue will be fixed quickly before less tech savvy users run into the issue. The driver has improvements and fixes for Tom Clancy’s The Division, Hitman, Need for Speed, Ashes of the Singularity, and Rise of the Tomb Raider so if you don’t play any of these, it may do well to skip the update for now. This is one more example why device drivers should never be automatically updated.

Uber Trials Phone Monitoring of Its Drivers

Uber is well-known for problems. The popular app allows drivers to charge as if they were taxi’s, getting notifications that someone is requesting a lift and then offering their services at a charge. Uber, like many companies, suffer from bad press and actions like stolen accounts being sold and even having its leaders in France arrested. In order to combat their drivers though Uber looks to employ the same technique that some insurance companies now use, monitoring of its drivers.

Uber announced that it will be rolling out a trial in Houston, Texas, to check on drivers who have received complaints about their driving standards. The system will use a combination of the phone’s accelerometers, GPS and gyroscopes to record actions such as excessive speeding or even if you decided to check your phone and send a text while at the wheel.

Uber made it clear that they would only access this information though if the driver had a complaint made against them, although the possibility of always-on monitoring is still on the cards.

While monitoring is often frowned upon, when you are placing your trust in a driver who is monitored in very few ways, with some instances of drivers being accused or committing crimes, a little extra safety for passengers and road users can’t be a bad thing.

Windows 10 Fall Update Removes Apps and Drivers At Will!

Updates are supposed to fix issues or add new features, but it looks like Microsoft is going the other way with their big Fall update for Windows 10. Okay, this is probably not intended but it is what’s happening. The thread about it on Reddit is growing steadily with users reporting not only apps disappearing, but also important drivers such as Intel RST that effectively can render your installation useless.

Among the applications being reported automatically uninstalled are popular monitor tools such as CPU-Z and HW-Monitor, but Piriform’s Speccy is also affected and being uninstalled just as Spybot and several VPN-Clients. These tools, except the VPN client, are minor and can quickly be reinstalled, but something as important as RAID drivers should never ever just be uninstalled by an update.

I’m pretty sure that this is a temporary issue, but Microsoft has yet to officially acknowledge the issues with Windows 10 version 1511. This also means that you might want to hold off updating your system with the latest patches if you’re one of the millions that already made the switch to Windows 10.

Have you experienced any trouble yourself with the newest update or are you happy with Microsoft latest operating system. Let us know in the comments.

Windows 10 Drivers Gives AMD R9 Fury X Advantage Over Nvidia 980 Ti

We only have two major players left in the consumer graphics card market, AMD and Nvidia, and Nvidia has had the lead for quite some time now. The new AMD Fury, Fury X, and Nano cards are impressive on their own, but they still couldn’t quite beat Nvidia’s cards on the full scale.

The newest Windows 10 drivers seem to have given AMD an edge again as they have shown performance increases on all current generation AMD cards. However, the most impressive result to come out of this is that the Fury X managed to leap ahead of the Nvidia GeForce 980 Ti according to the latest comparisons by TechPowerUp via WCCFtech.

With the older test setup, Nvidia was ahead of AMD most of the way. The GTX 980 Ti was 8% ahead of the R9 Fury X, and the GTX 980 was 2% ahead of the R9 390X at 1440p. Moving up to 4K resolution and the GTX 980 Ti and R9 Fury X come in at the same result and so do the GTX 980 and R9 390X.

Older drivers and test setup

After the move to the newest Windows 10 drivers, which aren’t the recently announced Crimson update, Nvidia’s lead shrinks. At 1440p, the GTX 980 Ti that previously was 8% ahead of the R9 Fury X now comes in at the same result while the R9 390x makes up 5% and gets 3% ahead of the GTX980. Even the R9 290X gets a huge boost of 9% over the GTX 970 card.

Again, moving up to 4K resolution and we see that AMD takes the full lead. The R9 Fury X jumps ahead of the GTX 980Ti by 5%, the R9 390X and 290(X) also stay ahead of the GTX 980 and GTX970/GTX780 Ti respectively. This is pretty impressive and really shows what a driver optimising can do.

New Windows 10 AMD Drivers

Goodbye Catalyst Control Center – Hello Radeon Software Crimson Edition!

So a few weeks ago we all heard the news that AMD has split up its Processor and Graphics divisions. Well, today we have the official word from AMD regarding the newly branded Radeon Technologies Group.

Something that AMD has previously struggled with in the graphics market is the software and drivers. While they worked, a lot of users experienced problems and that put a bad taste in a large portion of the enthusiast community. This new rebrand hopes to change things with the discontinuation of the Catalyst software and introduction of Radeon/ FirePro settings.

We will see the first introduction of Radeon settings in the form of Radeon Software Crimson Edition before the end of the year.

We were sent a press presentation to offer us an early look at what to expect from this new venture and Radeon Technologies Group (Radeon TG) want to drive home six key values of Pro Graphics, Gaming, VR/ AR, Immersive, Performance and Efficiency. Generally people would laugh at the efficiency part, but Fiji has certainly changed the minds of a lot of people.

We were shown the evolution of Catalyst Control Center (CCC), with the three most notable interface changes.

For those that are interested, here is how AMD will be naming the ongoing updates.

If this is the final consumer edition, I am very impressed by how far and different the design and layout is to the current CCC. Fewer visible menus makes the software much cleaner to look at.

The layout is more intuitive than the previous CCC iteration and a step in the social media world with quick links and easy location of games and other settings.

Built into this software is a game optimiser, which will search your computer for games and tell you your settings and the best settings for your system.

  

Here we see Overdrive, a staple part of CCC. This version looks a lot cleaner and similar to the 3rd party applications such as MSI AfterBurner and ASUS GPU Tweak.

Bundled in with this software, AMD has included preset video settings and display configurations. This makes things simpler to get the perfect viewing experience for that family film, but the best gaming experience on those dual R9 Fury Xs.

AMD Eyefinity sticks around for the upgrade, but the process has been planned to be simplified compared to the current method on CCC.

Like most software from manufacturers, you can now analyse your computer hardware and software within this to make it simpler for identifying your components for any possible troubleshooting.

Along with the press information pack, we were sent a short video outlining the key features and objectives set out for the new Radeon Software.

Personally I like how this is going, a change to the software really brings AMD up-to-date with the competition, but something I want to see is more regular driver updates and even WHQL certified updates to go along with this snazzy overhaul.

This is still an early preview and things might change by the time it gets released to the public, so we will keep you updated with anything AMD provides us with.

AMD Working on Major Driver Overhaul for November

Despite a historical disadvantage compared to Nvidia in terms of drivers, AMD has not given up. Last year, AMD unveiled their 14.12 Catalyst Omega driver, a suite that added a number of major features along with a host of optimisations and bug fixes. This year, it looks like AMD to about to do a repeat performance with a similar driver dump set to occur in November, likely named 15.11 or 15.12.

With the time of the “mega-driver” release being the same period as last years, it looks like AMD may be planning to do this type of thing annually from now on. With a release around November, AMD can cash in on the PR hype and maybe get a few more sales during the holiday season. On the other hand, holding back significant features from current users can cause some issues, especially if said feature are already finished. AMD has also reduced the use of WHQL certifications, which has led to more ‘beta’ releases throughout the year.

This time around, we don’t yet know what new features will be added. While the last driver was also meant to improve the performance disparity between AMD and Nvidia cards, the two competing camps are closer this time around. The most likely additions are improved DX12 support and likely a number of bug fixes. It will be interesting to see what AMD will be bringing to the table as their headline features.

AMD Makes Fun of NVIDIA’s GeForce Experience Driver Delivery Requirement

NVIDIA recently announced a major overhaul of the GeForce Experience software and intends to only provide GameReady drivers through this client. Additionally, the software will eventually require an e-mail address and NVIDIA account to access the optimized drivers. AMD has responded to this piece of information on their official Twitter account which reads:

Any comments made on Twitter can be misconstrued and it’s impossible to know if this was a friendly jibe or attempt to discredit NVIDIA’s recent decision. Additionally, apart from the AMD faithful, I’m not entirely sure this kind of marketing endeavor is doing the company any favors. Some of you might remember the NVIDIA GTX 970 VRAM fiasco, and AMD launched a PR move to try to capitalize on the situation:

In the past AMD has also tried a similar strategy through ‘The Fixer’ video series:

Currently, AMD is struggling in the discrete graphics card market, and the only way to change their fortunes is through innovative products which offers a legitimate alternative to NVIDIA hardware. Instead of making comments about the competition, they should focus on hiring the best engineering team and scaling back the marketing aspect.

What do you think of AMD’s response? Do you feel this kind of social media presence is helping or hindering AMD’s public image?

AMD Released Catalyst 15.7 WHQL Driver

AMD released a new set of drivers, the Catalyst 15.7 WHQL driver suite. The new drivers add official support for the new AMD Radeon R9 300 and R9 Fury series of graphics cards, but it also comes with a lot of new features which mainly are aimed at Windows 10.

AMD describes the new release as “A Catalyst for Windows 10 and Direct X” and is said to unleash even more performance from your AMD hardware.

The new Catalyst 15.7 WHQL driver adds support for AMD FreeSync in Crossfire setups on DirectX 10 or newer. It also features virtual super-resolution and frame-rate target control in their full and official version. Every new driver also brings some new gaming profiles and this time is no different. The performance of Far Cry 4 and Tomb Raider has also been improved.

But the really interesting things are the FRTC and VSR. FRTC enables fine-tuning of your graphics card for a more stable and consistent performance in games. By limiting the maximum framerate, you lower the power consumption, thereby your electrical bill as well as heat and thereby noise. VSR in its essence renders the pictures larger than they need to be displayed and then scales them down for improved quality.

So if you got an AMD graphics card, you might want to head over to AMD and download the new drivers.

We Wave Good Bye to AMD’s Mantle

AMD had a brief moment with their low-level API Mantle, but it looks like Mantle won’t be a term used for much longer. With DirectX 12 just around the corner and the next generation OpenGL, dubbed Vulcan, there just isn’t any room for it anymore.

Nvidia denied to back it from the start, which isn’t any surprise at all. If AMD created it, they won’t touch it – at least that’s the way it looks to the outside world. DirectX 12 and Vulcan are pretty much doing the same thing, so it would be a waste to continue it for AMD.

That doesn’t mean that they’re completely ceasing the support and AMD will continue to support Mantle for its GCN graphics cards, but they have ceased all further optimizations for future GPUs.

“AMD has confirmed that while they are not outright dropping Mantle support, they have ceased all further Mantle optimization. Of particular note, the Mantle driver has not been optimized at all for GCN 1.2, which includes not just R9 Fury X, but R9 285, R9 380, and the Carrizo APU as well. Mantle titles will probably still work on these products,” Anandtech wrote

GCN 1.2 includes all the new top cards such as the R9 Fury X, R9 285, and R9 380. It is a bit sad to see AMD stopping this development, but it is an understandable decision and it might very well have set the new standards in motions by its pure existence. So it wasn’t for nothing.

Thank You DSOgaming for providing us with this information

NVIDIA Releases Hotfix to Resolve Chrome Instability

NVIDIA has just launched a long overdue Hotfix to remedy an issue with the latest 353.30 graphics drivers. Using this specific revision alongside Google Chrome often caused desktop freezing, blue screens of death and other stability problems. According to NVIDIA, the Hotfix specifically addresses:

  • Chrome Crashes/Freezes/TDRs
  • Delays when starting or switching apps & games with GSYNC enabled

While this is excellent news for NVIDIA customers, it is considered to be a temporary solution until the next fully featured driver arrives. NVIDIA’s release notes clearly state, “The GeForce Hotfix driver is our way to trying to get some of these fixes out to you more quickly. These drivers are basically the same as the previous released version, with a small number of additional targeted fixes. The fixes that make it in are based in part on your feedback in the Driver Feedback threads and partly on how realistic it is for us to quickly address them. These fixes (and many more) will be incorporated into the next official driver release, at which time the Hotfix driver will be taken down.”

I would only recommend downloading this Hotfix if you are desperate to try out the latest drivers and unwilling to roll back to a previous version. While the situation is far from ideal, it’s commendable that NVIDIA are looking to resolve serious bugs in a timely manner and prevent any negative murmurings about their driver quality.

The URL provided by NVIDIA is a little confusing and requires you to scroll down to access the correct path. Please find the direct links below for your convenience:

64 Bit Desktop

32 Bit Desktop

64 Bit Notebook

32 Bit Notebook

Project CARS Developer Denies AMD GPU Compatibility Issues

After a thread popped up on reddit claiming that racing game Project CARS was built upon a version of the PhysX engine that would favour NVIDIA cards over AMD, the game’s developer Slightly Mad Studios has been forced to issue a statement denying that performance is in any way be impaired when using AMD GPUs.

Ian Bell, Head of Studio for Slightly Mad, has already refuted these claims, noting that any issues with AMD hardware are driver-related. A more comprehensive statement has followed:

For the past few days, erroneous information posted on Reddit and other websites has spread misinformation with regards to Project CARS’ performance on systems using AMD GPUs.

To correct the wrongful assumptions regarding Project CARS’ performance on AMD GPUs, the MADNESS engine and the degree of involvement from our third-party technical partners, Slightly Mad Studios feel compelled to point out the following facts:

  • Project CARS is not a GameWorks product. We have a good working relationship with nVidia, as we do with AMD, but we have our own render technology which covers everything we need.

  • NVidia are not “sponsors” of the project. The company has not received, and would not expect, financial assistance from third party hardware companies.

  • The MADNESS engine runs PhysX at only 50Hz and not at 600Hz as mentioned in several articles

  • The MADNESS engine uses PhysX for collision detection and dynamic objects, which is a small part of the overall physics systems

  • The MADNESS engine does not use PhysX for the SETA tyre model or for the chassis constraint solver (our two most expensive physics sub-systems)

  • The MADNESS engine does not use PhysX for the AI systems or for raycasting, we use a bespoke optimised solution for those

  • The physics systems run completely independently of the rendering and main game threads and utilises 2 cores at 600Hz

  • The physics threading does not interact with the rendering, it is a push system sending updated positional information to the render bridge at 600Hz

  • Any performance difference with PhysX would not be reflected with differences in comparing rendering frame rates. There is no interaction between PhysX and the rendering

  • Overall, PhysX uses less than 10% of all physics thread CPU on PC. It is a very small part of the physics system so would not make a visual difference if run on the CPU or GPU

  • Direct involvement with both nVidia and AMD has been fruitful in assisting with the game performance at various stages of development. Both AMD and nVidia have had access to working builds of the game throughout development, and they have both tested builds and reported their results and offered suggestions for performance improvements.

  • Testing of the game with different driver versions has produced a variety of performance results on both nVidia and AMD hardware. This is entirely to be expected as driver changes cannot always be tested on every game and every card, and this is the reason why both companies produce game-specific driver profiles, to ensure that they can get the best out of the game.

  • Project CARS does not use nVidia specific particle technology – the system we use is a modified version of the same technology we used on the Need for Speed : Shift and Shift Unleashed games, and was entirely developed in-house. The reason the performance drops when there are a lot of particles on screen is simply because processing a large number of particles is very expensive.

Project CARS, available for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Wii U, and PC, has received glowing reviews since its release on 7th May.

Thank you VG24/7 for providing us with this information.

Project Cars Not Sabotaged But AMD are Working to Fix Performance Issues

Project Cars claims to be the ultimate driver journey, combining the “passionate community of racing fans and real-life drivers”, to create an immersive racing world with next-gen graphics and career development game play. But like most modern games the release has been plagued by bad news, in this case, Performance issues.

With AMD graphic card users claiming to have performance issues with the game, even on the top end AMD GPU’s. Ian Bell, the “big boss” at slightly mad studios has spoke out regarding rumours that the problem with this performance may have been due to Nvidia paying for the “issues”. He states that Nvidia have not paid the company one penny and were very supportive throughout develop and even now after release supporting them with driver issues. He does claim however that they gave AMD 20 keys for the game to be tested and have been inviting the company to work with them for years, and looking back at the company emails the last time they received a communication from AMD was October of last year.

Claiming that looking at the lesser hardware available in consoles shows how optimised they are on AMD chips, later on AMD’s Vice President announced through twitter that AMD is now working with Slightly Mad Studios to fix the performance issues.

With modern day gaming being plagued by performance issues on a variety of hardware, and the business models of companies coming under attack for expensive season passes, can companies afford to wait for the damage to be done before stepping in to fix performance issues?

Thank you DSOGaming for providing us with this information.

AMD Bringing FreeSync Support to Catalyst Drivers on 19th March

AMD has announced that it is to release a new Catalyst graphics driver on 19th March, and that the driver will be FreeSync compatible. FreeSync is AMD’s variable refresh rate technology, preventing “screen tears” during gaming.

FreeSync-compatible monitors are now available in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East, the tech is yet to make it to US shores. This latest driver release raises hope that FreeSync will arrive in America soon.

It seems that drivers for AMD CrossFire setups are more difficult to develop, since they are not available until April.

A statement from AMD reads:

“AMD is very excited that monitors compatible with AMD FreeSync technology are now available in select regions in EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa). We know gamers are excited to bring home an incredibly smooth and tearing-free PC gaming experience powered by AMD Radeon GPUs and AMD A-Series APUs. We’re pleased to announce that a compatible AMD Catalyst graphics driver to enable AMD FreeSync technology for single-GPU configurations will be publicly available on AMD.com starting March 19, 2015. Support for AMD CrossFire configurations will be available the following month in April 2015.”

Source: Legit Reviews

Uber Under Fire After Raising Prices in Sydney

Uber has been under fire today after the ride sharing app put prices up in Sydney following the alleged terrorist hostage crisis in the city. The app raised prices in the Sydney area before quickly backtracking.

Prices were raised up to 4 times the normal rate, according to the BBC. The company responded to the backlash by refunding some customers and offering free rides out of the Sydney central business district. They also tweeted that the price hike was to encourage more drivers to get in the area to help people get home.

“We are all concerned with the events happening in Sydney. Uber Sydney will be providing free rides out of the CBD to help Sydneysiders get home safely. Our thoughts are with those affected and the NSW Police Force. We are in the process of refunding rides.” – Uber.

Source: BBC News

AMD Outs Catalyst 14.11.2 Beta Drivers Now Available

The latest AMD Catalyst Beta drivers are here at last! The new update brings the graphics drivers up to version 14.11.2 Beta and brings important updates for some of this months biggest game launches.

If you’re playing FarCry 4 or Dragon Age: Inquisition this month, then you’ll definitely want to get onto these Beta drivers. The Catalyst 14.11.2 drivers claim to offer up to 50 percent performance increase for single-GPU performance with anti-aliasing enabled for FarCry 4, which is a huge difference.

Dragon Age: Inquisition doesn’t get anything as dramatic, but you can still expect to see a 5% increase in performance; every little helps.

The new drivers also add CrossFire options for Dragon Age: Inquisition, unfortunately the CrossFire support for FarCry 4 is disabled while AMD and Ubisoft try to fix some bugs; what a shocker!

Thank you TechPowerUp for providing us with this information.

Steam Machines Delayed Until 2015

A lot of rumours had been circulating about the Steam Machines and the latest news regarding the non-Windows powered machines refer to the Steam-based gaming machines being pushed back until 2015.

Some prototypes have been revealed in the past, including the Alienware version powered by NVIDIA. From what is known so far, the machines will run on Steam OS, giving users the ability to run Steam games while having the machine plugged into the living room TV. They also have the option of installing Windows in a dual-boot configuration, having the operating system run on a separate hard drive.

Valve has recently announced that they are going to push back the launch date, having set a 2015 release date. Steam machines are reported to be quite tricky to sell, since we already have PCs and consoles for gaming and other computerised activities. The launch date push might be the sign of Valve attempting to implement new features to the Steam OS or even the machines themselves.

The delay also comes at a rather strange time, since NVIDIA, AMD and even Intel have working drivers for the Linux-based Steam OS. However, it might also indicate the complexity in making the drivers work with all games running in a Linux environment. AMD has also updates its Steam OS drivers to the latest version, namely 14.4, indicating that AMD cards should run without any significant issues.

In addition to the driver releases, reports also indicate that more than a dozen manufacturers have announced their own Steam OS machines. Alienware, GIGABYTE, Origin PC, iBuyPower, Zotac, CyperPowerPC, Maingear and Alternate are just a few of the manufacturers announcing their dedication towards manufacturing Steam OS machines.

AMD might even have an advantage with the current pushback, having more time to prepare their hardware and software for the final release. However, there is also no guarantee that the Steam OS machines will ever be launched, since the concept of the Steam Machine is seen as nothing more than a PC not powered by the Windows operating system.

On the other hand, since users use Windows-powered PCs to surf the web, access their social media applications or use multimedia applications for music and movies, Steam OS machines can offer all of that including gaming without the need to deal with Windows or even pay for the operating system. However, the success of the Steam Machine will remain to be seen.

Thank you Fudzilla for providing us with this information

Wireless Issues In Windows 8.1 PCs Still Persist

It seems not even Windows 8.1 can escape the problem sphere everyone seems to be having lately. According to Softpedia, several users have reported limited or no Wi-Fi connectivity, a bug that previously affected Surface tablet, but now became a widespread issue also targeting PCs and other tablets.

Forums have started filling up with users reporting problems, but it appears that fixes for the problems at hand are yet to be released. Some examples of issues encountered by users can be seen below.

“Two brand new HP notebooks, and two apple computers. Upgraded the bios, rebooted, updated the NIC drivers, (as HP phone helpdesk said to do) upgraded the cisco E4200 router firmware. No matter if pc’s are set to sleep, reboot or powered off, issue happens.

It happens less on the HP notebook, but the wireless setting are the same on the other HP. Issue wasn’t as bad on Windows 8 but after 8.1 it is constantly not connecting without many tried of disconnect, reconnect, reenter the password. The router has been reset a couple times and the cable modem has been reset.”

“I ran into the same issue described in the thread. I use Windows 8.1, Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6235 (ASUS UX31A) and DLink (DIR-655) wireless router. I think it’s a combination of both Intel and Microsoft issue. None of the configuration tricks work for me (rollback driver, disable 802.11n/Bluetooth/power save, etc.).”

“I feel bad for buying new laptop and especially using windows 8. I have new dell laptop, Wi-Fi was dropping intermittent. I upgraded to windows 8.1 thinking it might fix the issue. Think what, now I can’t connect at all. I am decided to get out of Windows 8.”

Microsoft has apparently acknowledged the problem, but instead suggested only vague workarounds that do not seem to fix the issues on Windows 8.1 tablets or PCs.

Thank you Softpedia for providing us with this information

NVIDIA Rolls Out GeForce Experience and Shield Software Updates

A new version of NVIDIA’s GeForce Experience software has been released, which brings improved gameplay recording via ShadowPlay as well as more user control over the game-specific optimal settings. The update comes in version 1.8 and is compatible with Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows 8.1.

The key features included in the update include an Adjustable Optimal Playable Settings. Previously released versions of the GeForce Experience software made available a button which automatically applied optimal graphical settings for a given game. With the newly introduced feature however, users can now customize the tradeoff between performance and image quality by utilizing a slider and set it by preference. The feature supports resolutions up to 3840×2160 and display modes including full-screen, windowed, and borderless windowed.

Other improvements are seen in the video recording feature, adding multi-source audio recording and support for video capture at “native resolution and aspect ratios up to 1920×1080.” and also adds increased resolution limit from 720p to 1080p @ 60 FPS for Console Mode made available for 22 games like Batman: Arkham Origins, Battlefield 4, Call of Duty: Ghosts, and others ( the complete list of supported games can be found here).

The GeForce Experience software can be downloaded from here and the new Shield software is be available through the OTA update directly on the device. Also, a list of the GeForce Experience features can be viewed below.

NVIDIA GeForce Experience 1.8 Release Highlights:

    Optimal Settings
  • New optimal settings slider adds fine grained control over performance and quality tradeoff
  • Ability to select and optimize for different resolutions
  • Ability to select Windowed, Full-screen, or Windowed Borderless modes.
  • ShadowPlay

  • Removes 3.8 GB file limitation in Win7.
  • Record up to 20 minutes in Shadow Mode
  • Unlimited recording in Manual Mode
  • ShadowPlay creates new files once 3.8 GB is reached
  • Captures video without re-scaling at up to 1080p. At higher resolutions, aspect ratio is preserved
  • Adds microphone recording
  • Captures video at 60 fps instead of 62 fps
  • Reduces stuttering in captured video
  • Other Improvements

  • NVIDIA “UpdatusUser” user account is no longer required for installation
  • Adds ability to scan for games in folders and network drivers with user read-only permissions

Thank you TechPowerUp and Tech Report for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of NVIDIA

NVIDIA Announces Unified Memory In CUDA 6

NVIDIA has announced unified memory support in CUDA 6. The hope is that this will greatly ease the process writing programs that use CUDA, by simplifying the process of managing memory access.

Former implementations of CUDA relied on the programmer to manage the exchange of information from CPU/system memory to GPU memory. This creates a sizeable and somewhat unnecessary overhead for coders. With the new unified memory system, though, programmers can access and operate on any memory resource, regardless of which pool of memory the address actually resides in.

The system doesn’t actually eliminate the physical requirement to copy the memory contents from one pool to another but does remove the need for programmers to manage that part of the process – CUDA 6 does it automatically.

This is contrast to the unified memory implementation that AMD has been lauding on its upcoming Kaveri APUs. Those chips actually use the same block of memory, eliminating the need to copy the data from one block to another entirely.

There is a possibility that the new CUDA 6 solution will have a negative impact on performance, as finer control of memory management is taken away from the program. However, coders will still have the option to manually control memory if needed, while providing a simpler solution for those that don’t require more granular control.

NVIDIA has also announced that CUDA 6 will include new BLAS and FFT libraries that a tuned for multi-GPU scaling, with them optimised to support up to 8 GPUs in a node. Another key aspect that NVIDIA states regards the open source parallel programming standard OpenACC, which will be incorporated into the GNU Compiler Collection bringing GPU acceleration support to the popular compiler.

Thank you Bit-Tech for providing us with this information
Images courtesy of Bit-Tech

Nvidia 331.65 WHQL Drivers Released

The new Nvidia drivers have launched and while we still get our usual tweaks and performance boosts, we also get ShadowPlay. ShadowPlay is a new features that basically acts as video capture software and is now available to all users of the new drivers.

ShadowPlay will record the last 20 minutes of your gameplay, so if you manage to pull of something incredible you can just hit the hot key and it will save off the last section of video for you to use later.

On top of that we have improvements  and support for a bunch of new and old titles that includes Batman Arkham Origins, Metro: Last Light, Battlefield 4 and Call of Duty: Ghosts.

HBAO+ support has also been added in along with a bunch of new SLI profiles.

  • Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag – Updated Profile
  • Batman: Arkham Origins – Updated SLI Profile
  • Battlefield 3 – Updated Surround Profile
  • Battlefield 4 – Updated Surround Profile, Updated SLI Profile
  • Call of Duty Ghosts – Added 3D Vision Profile (Rated “Fair”)
  • Crisis 2015 – Added SLI Profile
  • Crysis 3 – Added HBAO+ Profile
  • Dirty Bomb (a.k.a. Extraction) – Added DX9 SLI Profile
  • Dragon Sword – Updated DX9 Profile
  • Dying Light – Added DX11 SLI Profile
  • Euro Truck Simulator 2 – Updated SLI Profile
  • F1 2013 – Updated SLI Profile
  • FIFA 14 – Added SLI Profile, Added HBAO+ Profile, Added 3D Vision Profile (Rated “Good”)
  • GRID 2 – Updated DX11 Profile
  • Natural Selection 2 – Added DX11 SLI Profile
  • Outlast – Added DX9 SLI Profile
  • Added DX9 SLI Profile, Added 3D Vision Profile (Rated “Excellent”)
  • Space Hulk – Updated Profile
  • Splinter Cell: Blacklist – Updated SLI Profile
  • State of Decay – Added DX9 SLI Profile
  • The Wolf Among Us – Added 3D Vision Profile (Rated “Good”)
  • Urban Trial Freestyle – Added 3D Vision Profile (Rated “Good”)
  • War of the Vikings – Added DX11 SLI Profile
  • Watch Dogs – Added DX11 SLI Profile

Head on over to the official Nvidia Driver page for more information and to download the new drivers.

Thank you IncGamers for providing us with this information.

AMD Announce Catalyst 13.8 Beta Driver, Fixes Frame Latency Issues

The AMD CrossFireX micro-stuttering/frame pacing issue has been in the “tech press” for quite sometime since being revealed by websites like PC Perspective and Tech Report. AMD promised a driver fix for it a few months back and have stuck to their promises and their time frame. Just yesterday AMD announced the 13.8 catalyst beta driver which for the first time fixes issues with frame latency. The 13.8 beta driver adds something called “frame pacing” for all HD 7000 series graphics cards. This allows frames to be delivered in a more constant way to prevent micro stutter.

Below you can see an example of  the improvements that have come from the new driver while above shows the original problem. Note that both the above and below graphs are from PC Perspective and we strongly encourage you to check out this article by them which explores the frame latency issue in more depth and how well the new driver works.

The new fix isn’t going to make everyone happy though as there is still much work to be done. Firstly this new frame pacing setting, which is enabled now by default for all CrossFire X set-ups, only works with the Direct X 10 and Direct X 11 APIs – so now Direct X 9 support aka Skyrim. Next is that it only works on resolutions up to 2560 by 1600 and as far as we know there is now frame pacing support for Eyefinity just yet.

Other improvements of the Catalyst 13.8 beta include full OpenGL 4.3 API support, updated CAP profiles, improved performance in Metro Last Light by about 7% and a new gadget that shows statistics for AMD Enduro such as which apps are running on the integrated graphics and which on the dedicated graphics.

Images courtesy of PC Perspective

Nvidia Release GeForce 320.49 WHQL Drivers

For those of you who don’t use Nvidia’s GeForce experience software, but like to keep on top of the latest driver updates, you might want to take note that Nvidia has just released the GeForce 320.49 WHQL certified drivers. These bring “official” support for the new GTX 760 graphics card, and 32/64 bit support for all major Windows operating systems. The official WHQL certified version follows six days after the beta version was released. Nvidia also recently released the 326.01 WHQL certified driver for the Windows 8.1 Preview, but if you aren’t using Windows 8.1 then this is the latest and greatest driver to grab.

Download Links

Desktop

Mobile

Nvidia has published detailed release notes for you to check here if you are worried about bugs or compatibility issues (thought these refer to the beta drivers of the same version). If you get any trouble with the latest drivers then be sure to pass your feedback onto Nvidia at the official forum thread here.

Image courtesy of Nvidia

Nvidia Release Their Windows 8.1 Preview Drivers

If you’ve had a chance or the time to grab hold of a copy of the free Windows 8.1 Preview then you’re definitely going to need to get the latest Nvidia or AMD drivers to see the true performance of the new operating system.

Nvidia has been quick off the mark to release its Windows 8.1 Preview drivers in the form of GeForce 326.01 WHQL. These drivers support all GeForce graphics cards since the 6 series (that is the days of GeForce 6100/6200 and so on) and have been available since the first day of release for the Windows 8.1 Preview. Furthermore notebook GPUs are supported too. With support for the latest GTX 760 GPU the list is completely up to date.

Download your Nvidia Windows 8.1 Preview drivers here.

“NVIDIA has long been committed to working with Microsoft to ensure the best possible Windows experience for GeForce users. Our close working relationship with Microsoft allows us to provide WHQL-certified GeForce drivers via Windows Update on Day 1 for key milestones such as this Release Preview.

It’s a substantial effort that requires hundreds of man years of engineering time and thousands of hours of testing and certification, but it’s essential to ensure optimal performance and stability for the world’s largest gaming and productivity platform.” stated Nvidia.

Image courtesy of Nvidia

AMD Windows 8.1 Preview Drivers Ready

With Microsoft releasing their Windows 8.1 Preview just a few days ago it is a great opportunity for all Windows users to test drive the latest operating system from Microsoft for free. Of course without the latest drivers you won’t really be able to do much in the way of 3D applications and gaming so both AMD and Nvidia have been working hard to get preview drivers ready.

AMD have announced that their Preview drivers are ready and you can get them here. They will support FirePro and Radeon series GPUs back as far as the HD 5000(M) series and the FirePro M3900 Series. These drivers feature all the support you’ll need for the Windows 8.1 Preview.

  • Support for new Windows 8.1 features, including:
    • Wireless Display – Microsoft’s support for Wireless Display Technology
    • 48 Hz Dynamic Refresh rates for Video Playback
    • Aggressive V-sync  interrupt optimization
    • Skype/Lync video conferencing acceleration
    • New DX11.1 feature – Tiled Resources
  • Support for AMD Features, including:
    • AMD Eyefinity
    • OpenCL
    • OpenGL
    • UVD
    • AMD Dual Graphics/AMD CrossFire Technology
    • AMD Overdrive
    • AMD Catalyst Control Center/Vision Engine Control Center

Interestingly we can see support for the new “Tiled Resources” feature that was said to be a Direct X 11.2 exclusive, though we can see that it is apparently part of the Direct X 11.1 package meaning it might arrive on Windows 7, though today Windows 7 still doesn’t have “all” the features of Direct X 11.1 like Windows 8 does.

For more details, download links and compatibility then please see the AMD announcement here.

Image courtesy of AMD

Nvidia Releases 320.18 WHQL Drivers, GTX 660s Get Decent Boost

With the release of the GTX 780 just a few days ago also came the release of some new drivers from Nvidia. The newly available 320.18 WHQL drivers are recommended for anyone with a GTX 780, but they also bring some hefty performance boosts on “older” cards like the GTX 660. There is an extra 20% of performance on offer in Tomb Raider and Dirt Showdown compared to the 314.22 WHQL drivers. Metro Last Light, Assassin’s Creed 3, Far Cry 3 and Bioshock Infinite also get performance boosts of 10%, 8%, 6% and 5% respectively.

Here you can see a demonstration of the performance boost on a GTX 660.

Nvidia’s new drivers also boost GTX 660 SLI performance too.

In addition there are also new and updated SLI profiles:

  • Alien Fear – Added SLI profile
  • Call of Juarez: Gunslinger – Added SLI profile
  • Dead Island: Riptide – Added SLI profile
  • Dragon Sword – Added SLI profile
  • Dungeons & Dragons: Neverwinter – Added SLI profile
  • Euro Truck Simulator 2 – Added SLI Profile
  • Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon – Added SLI profile
  • GRID 2 – Added SLI profile
  • Human Head 2, AKA Digital Ira – Added SLI profile
  • Natural Selection 2 – Updated SLI profile
  • Remember Me – Added SLI profile
  • Resident Evil 6 – Updated SLI profile
  • The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct – Added SLI profile
  • TrackMania Canyon – Updated SLI profile

You can download the new Nvidia drivers from the driver download page or you can use GeForce Experience 1.5 to do this drive update automatically.

Images courtesy of Nvidia

NVIDIA GeForce 320.14 BETA Driver Released For Metro: Last Light

Metro Last Light is pretty much upon us and while I haven’t had chance to source a copy for myself, Nvidia have been hard at work tinkering and optimizing the latest batch of drivers ready for eager gamers to enjoy the show. The new BETA 320.14 drivers are said to increase performance in the game by up to 10% and given the visual juggernaut that was the original Metro game, any boost in performance is a welcome bonus indeed, regardless of your systems specifications.

You can download the drivers you need right here and get your system ready to rock and roll in post apocalyptic Moscow.

NVIDIA GeForce 320.14 BETA – Windows 8/Windows7 64-bit

NVIDIA GeForce 320.14 BETA – Windows 8/Windows 7 32-bit

“A sequel to the million-selling Metro 2033, Metro: Last Light ups the ante for videogame graphics in addition to further refining its own brand of first-person shooting action. NVIDIA GPU users can enhance their experience with hardware-accelerated PhysX effects and stereoscopic 3D Vision rendering.

The new GeForce 320.14, Metro: Last Light beta drivers are now available to download. Boosting single-GPU and SLI performance in the eagerly anticipated sequel by up to 10%, the 320.14 beta drivers also ensure maximum system compatibility when battling the monsters of Last Light‘s post-apocalyptic world. For an in-depth look at the game’s technology and GPU performance check out our new Metro: Last Light Graphics Breakdown & Performance Guide.

320.14 beta also includes all of the performance optimizations and SLI profiles found in the recent320.00 beta release, improving performance and compatibility in games such as Call of Juarez: Gunslinger, Dead Island: RiptideDungeons & Dragons: Neverwinter, Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, GRID 2, Remember Me, Natural Selection 2, Resident Evil 6, Tomb Raider, and TrackMania² Canyon.”

So did you pick up the latest Metro title, let us know what you think of it in the comments section below.

Source: Nvidia