AMD has called its latest Crimson edition the GPU software update of the year and rightfully so. Called Crimson ReLive, it squeezes more horsepower out of the latest Polaris and older Fury GPUs and makes gaming and VR experiences more compelling.
The Crimson ReLive edition is a must-have for AMD GPU owners. Prominent games like Batman Arkham Knight and Deus Ex: Mankind will look and perform better, and VR images will look much sharper on headsets.
There are many new features in Crimson ReLive. An interesting feature is Radeon Chill, which keeps the GPU cool by cutting down on the excessive frame rate in games. Essentially, it analyzes the performance of games and adjusts the frame rate without affecting a game's visuals and performance.
The need for Chill came as some games may have an excessive frame rate, which may stress the GPU and cooling system in a PC. With Radeon Chill running, AMD has measured 31 percent reduced power consumption in a GPU.
The Chill feature will work only with specific games, and AMD is maintaining a list. It'll work with DirectX 9 or 11 games, while support for the DirectX 12 API is yet to be added.
AMD believes Chill is just a stop-gap feature, and it won't change hardware configurations or cooling technologies used in PCs today. Chill will be useful in gaming cafes in countries like China, where owners may be looking to cut electric bills without compromising the gaming experience.
Another interesting feature is Radeon ReLive, a game streaming feature that works with top streaming platforms like YouTube and Twitch. The AMD software makes it possible to add custom overlays, and an in-app toolbar allows tweaks to the settings and visuals. A professional equivalent of that software is Radeon Pro ReLive, which works with Solidworks, Maya, and Adobe Premiere Pro.
The software update also has a feature called Affinity multi-GPU that allows dual GPU configurations to be used for superior graphics on VR headsets. For example, one GPU can be dedicated to graphics on the left screen of a VR headset, and the other for the right-side screen. AMD said it saw 20 times improvement in projection rates with dual Radeon RX 480 GPUs compared to a single GPU configuration.
Other advances include an improvement to graphics in VR headsets by fine-tuning image rendition. New rendering techniques will put higher resolution graphics in the line of sight, and lower-resolution images to parts of a screen that are not clearly visible. That helps improve VR graphics while reducing the power consumption of a GPU.
AMD also announced improvements to FreeSync technology, with a "borderless fullscreen mode" that captures more screen space. FreeSync connects GPUs directly to monitors so game graphics look better. Essentially, when an image is drawn up on a GPU, it appears on the screen.
AMD has also added support for HDR (high dynamic range) gaming based on DolbyVision and HDR 10 standards. That's an important advancement, as the latest consoles like Xbox One S and PlayStation 4 Pro add support for HDR for better color and images in games.
The chipmaker is also laying the groundwork for AMD GPUs to support 8K gaming. The company announced GPU support for DisplayPort HBR3, which allows gaming on 4K monitors at over 120Hz, 5K at 60Hz, and 8K at 30Hz. Those 8K monitors aren't available yet, and gaming on a display at 30Hz won't be ideal because of poor refresh rates. But AMD is getting ready for the transition from 4K to 8K, which could start happening in 2020.