Catalyst 13.8 Results in Summary, Cont

Up next, let’s take a quick look at how the 7990 with frame pacing compares to NVIDIA’s GTX 690. NVIDIA’s frame pacing has been the gold standard thus far, so let’s see how close AMD has come to NVIDIA on their first shot.

Delta Percentages: AMD Radeon HD 7990 vs. GeForce GTX 690

Frankly the results aren’t flattering for AMD here, although keeping things in perspective they’re not terrible. In every last game GTX 690 has much lower frame time variability than 7990. NVIDIA has been working on this problem a lot longer than AMD has and it shows. Ultimately while it’s true this is an absolute metric when it comes to comparing results – AMD experiences more than two times the frame time variation in 5 of the 6 games – keep in mind we’re looking at the variance in frame times, rather than the frame times themselves, a first order derivative. What it means is that AMD clearly still has room for improvement, but AMD’s approximately 20% results are not a poor showing in this metric; for every individual there exists a point below which the frame time variations cease to be perceptible.

While we’re on the matter of this comparison, it’s very much worth pointing out that while AMD can’t match NVIDIA’s delta percentages at this time the same cannot be said for runt and dropped frames. Throughout our tests on Catalyst 13.8 AMD delivered 0 runt frames and dropped 0 frames. This is a massive improvement over Catalyst 13.6, which would regularly deliver runt frames and drop frames at times too. In fact even NVIDIA can’t do this well; the GTX 690 doesn’t drop any frames but does deliver a small number of runt frames (particularly towards the start of certain benchmarks). So in their very first shot AMD is already beating NVIDIA on runt frames, a concept pioneered by NVIDIA in the first place.

We’ve also posted the FCAT graphs for the 7990 versus the GTX 690 below. We can clearly see the higher variation of the 7990, while we see a few more instances of late frames on GTX 690 than we do 7990.

Moving on, we wanted to quickly compare D3D9 to D3D11 performance on the 7990. As a reminder AMD’s frame pacing mechanism isn’t enabled for D3D9, so this gives us a quick chance to look at the difference. The only title in our collection that is D3D9 capable is Total War: Shogun 2, so we’ll use that.

And there you go. Frame pacing is not available on D3D9, leading to much more variable results for the 7990 when using the D3D9 path, even though it’s otherwise faster due to the simpler effects. AMD will ultimately address D3D9 in a further phase, but in the meantime this reinforces the need for a switch to turn off Crossfire on dual-GPU cards like the 7990. NVIDIA allows this, and AMD lets you do it on multi-card setups, but with the 6990 and 7990 you are unfortunately locked into Crossfire mode at all times.

Finally, while it’s not something we can properly measure, we did want to touch upon the matter of input lag. AMD’s earlier position that frame pacing and input lag are inversely related was not wrong. At some level adding frame pacing is going to increase the input lag due to frames being held back. The question is, to what extent and is it acceptable?

The short answer is that while we can’t really give the issue the full attention it deserves without a high speed camera (something we don’t have), subjective testing is quite good. If there is a difference in input lag from enabling frame pacing, it’s not something we’re able to perceive. Despite AMD’s concerns about input lag from what usage testing we’ve done we have no problem saying that enabling frame pacing by default was the right move. In our experience there’s simply no reason not to enable it.

Catalyst 13.8 Results in Summary Total War: Shogun 2
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  • chizow - Friday, August 02, 2013 - link

    Agree for the most part, but I wouldn't go as far to say boycott AMD, I'd say it's a good learning experience for AMD fans. In order to better their own products, they need to be forthcoming and honest about their experiences. If something's broken, demand a fix, don't sit there and dismiss or minimize the problem, or worst, deflect the issue toward the competition in denial. In the end, they just end up hurting themselves by gimping the products they enjoy. Reply
  • Will Robinson - Tuesday, August 13, 2013 - link

    Please go back to spamming the comments section at Tech Report with your NVDA shill buddy Wreckage.
    Its beyond boring having to read it here too.
    Reply
  • chizow - Friday, August 02, 2013 - link

    Tom Petersen, Technical Marketing Director for Nvidia, has stated Nvidia has had built-in frame metering provisions since at least G80. Nvidia invented modern day AFR and they have clearly put a lot of thought behind it with the science to back it up. Every time you see them talk about AFR/microstutter/runtframes you see a lot of detailed technical slides and backup. Not so much from AMD. It should be obvious why Nvidia has had less of an issue with microstutter, they actually knew what they were looking to fix.

    http://techreport.com/review/22890/nvidia-geforce-...

    "Nvidia's Tom Petersen threw us for a loop by asserting that Nvidia's GPUs have had, since "at least" the G80, a built-in provision called frame metering that attempts to counteract the problem."
    Reply
  • Sabresiberian - Thursday, August 01, 2013 - link

    Tech Reports is a competing company to AMD?

    While it is very good to see AMD making progress here, it is far from over for both AMD and Nvidia. Both companies have work to do to get frame rates to be consistent and high.
    Reply
  • BryanDobbins - Saturday, August 17, 2013 - link

    my neighbor's mom makes $72/hour on the internet. She has been unemployed for 7 months but last month her pay check was $19114 just working on the internet for a few hours. Read more on this web site... http://goo.gl/qHdAQ4 Reply
  • Mondozai - Thursday, August 01, 2013 - link

    Always liked Ryan's articles but I hope he gets to write more for this site in the future. For example, he should write more about mobile GPU's now that that area is gaining importance(this year we get to see PowerVR's newest generation, Rogue and next year we get to see Kepler in Tegra 5). Yet he didn't write anything on Tegra 5's Kepler story on this site even if he is the expert on GPU's.

    Doing a story on AMD drivers is all well and good but honestly, would like to see moar.
    Reply
  • Ryan Smith - Thursday, August 01, 2013 - link

    We have some in-depth mobile coverage scheduled for later this year, though I can't go into any more detail on it at this moment. Reply
  • mwildtech - Thursday, August 01, 2013 - link

    Great write up! Thanks Ryan! Reply
  • SeeManRun - Thursday, August 01, 2013 - link

    It wasn't totally clear from reading, but is there any point in upgrading to this driver if you have a single graphics card? It doesn't appear so. Reply
  • DanNeely - Thursday, August 01, 2013 - link

    Release notes aren't out yet; but the 3rd page mentions that it adds full OpenGL ES 3.0 support as well as other not yes specified improvements. Most likely they include the obligatory few games to get a performance boost; but it's not purely a crossfire update. Reply

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