Catalyst 13.8 Results in Summary

For this article we’ve decided to do things a bit differently and lead in with a summary of our results, rather than starting with detailed results and then going to a summary. Based on past feedback most of you want to quickly know whether this works at all and how well it works, which is something we can quickly cover first before diving into individual games.

We’ll start with the graph that is of the most importance: delta percentages on a 7990, comparing Catalyst 13.6b2 to Catalyst 13.8b1 with frame pacing enabled.

AMD Radeon HD 7990 Delta Percentages: Cat 13.6 vs. Cat 13.8

The results, quite frankly, speak for themselves. In roughly half of our 6 games AMD had absolutely absurd frame pacing on Catalyst 13.6. Total War, Sleeping Dogs, and Battlefield 3 all had massive pacing issues that were the result of second frames coming far too soon after first frames, leading to a high instance of “runt” frames – that is frames that are only shown for an incredibly short period of time before being replaced with a newer frame. These are the games where micro-stuttering and/or the feeling of lower frame rates would be the most apparent.

Earlier we decided that our cutoff would be 15%-20% for an “acceptable” range for delta percentages on a multi-GPU setup, and with the exception of Total War: Shogun 2 (the only non-action game in this collection), AMD has just managed to hit that. How smooth this is going to be perceived is going to vary on a person-by-person basis, but this is right where we’d say micro-stuttering and other issues become generally unnoticeable.

For the more visually inclined, we’ve also quickly cooked up frame time graphs in FCAT showing the two 7990s. The full series is below, but we’ll print in full the Total War: Shogun 2 graph in full since it was one of the bigger problem cases for AMD’s cards without frame pacing. Shogun doesn’t have any scene transitions, but it does have some snap camera movements that leads to a clear separation between scenes. In each scene we can clearly see the much lower variability with Catalyst 13.8 with frame pacing turned on, as opposed to 13.6 with frame pacing turned off.

Similarly, turning off frame pacing results results in Catalyst 13.6-like behavior, with much higher variability compared to having frame pacing turned on.

Moving on, the next question on most readers’ minds will probably be performance. What’s the performance sacrifice for using this new frame pacing mechanism? AMD said that the performance hit should be non-existent, and strictly speaking within Catalyst 13.8 that’s true, as we get identical frame rates with it on or off. However compared to Catalyst 13.6 we are seeing a performance regression.

AMD Radeon HD 7990 Framerates: Cat 13.5, Cat 13.6, & Cat 13.8

With the exception of Hitman: Absolution, performance is down across the board on 13.8 versus 13.6. The specific performance losses vary on the game, but we’re looking at 5-10%. However compared to the 13.5 launch drivers and again with the exception of Hitman AMD’s performance has held constant or increased. So at the very least when it comes to frame rates AMD is no worse off than they were at the launch of the 7990.

Our next summary graph is plotting the 7970GE against a pair of 7970GEs in Crossfire, to take a fresh look at AFR (Crossfire) versus a single GPU. Our editorial position has been and remains that we favor a single larger GPU over a pair of smaller GPUs when this approach is practical, and this chart demonstrates exactly why.

AMD Radeon HD 7970GE Delta Percentages: One vs. Two GPUs

The delta percentages on the single 7970GE are all under 2%, versus 12%+ for the Crossfire setup. AFR simply cannot match the consistency of a single GPU at this time, which is why a high AFR is best left to being pursued after single-GPU performance has been exhausted.

The Test Catalyst 13.8 Results in Summary, Cont
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  • anubis44 - Friday, August 02, 2013 - link

    TheJian, you seem to be suffering from verbal diarrea. You might want to take some immodium for that.

    What you could have said in about 1/10th the space is: you harbour an inexplicable hatred for Ryan Smith, because he's ever said anything positive about an AMD product, and that you think that despite AMD's huge stride forward in one driver revision to address and fix a problem with multi-GPU crossfire smoothness (let's face it, a fairly obscure problem, too), nothing AMD will ever do will be good enough for you, because you harbour an inexplicable hatred of AMD, too.

    There, I summarized your entire rant in one sentence. Short and sweet. Concision is bliss.
    Reply
  • TheJian - Tuesday, August 06, 2013 - link

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ad_hominem
    Please review the chart from Graham, then come back with something at the top of his pyramid instead of the bottom :)

    You seem to be suffering from the inability to make a coherent response to a valid argument, thus attack me instead :) It's always amusing to see fanboys flounder when faced with the facts (no matter if I argue for or against a company, it happens on both sides).

    I own a radeon 5850...ROFL. I don't care about NV and will state they suck when or if they do. There is a reason I bought the 5850 :) The only thing I hate about AMD is management taking a total dump on one of my favorite companies (probably mostly due to spending all the R&D on consoles, thus screwing my PC choices and driving them directly into the ground). Having said that, I'll buy maxwell next unless something is terribly wrong with it if only for money backing the drivers. You can google my posts here and see I've been begging people to STOP asking AMD for price cuts and free games so they will start making money. I have done this MANY times. I'm not looking forward to NV owning the gpu world and making it too expensive for me to upgrade as much as I please.

    No fan of Ryan or Anandtech these days. I'd hope their alexa traffic numbers forces them to start acting like they did pre Sept last year (which are off by half, as people see the points I and others make). People are not being fooled.
    Reply
  • transphasic - Tuesday, August 06, 2013 - link

    Excellent points, and well said!
    The AMD fanboy sure is a grumpy one when their feelings get hurt at the fact that their beloved company has DROPPED the ball AGAIN for the hundredth time.
    The loudly proclaim to the world that they finally recognize a problem with their CF setup, and have supplied a minor tweak here and there to get a few games fixed, and that we as AMD owners should start cheering loudly for all through the night.
    LOL. It has taken them forever to finally see a problem, and then they take forever to fix it after all this time, even when it hasn't been fixed.
    AMD reminds of me Kramer from Seinfeld, who tells Jerry that he will give back to him the pliers he borrowed (that he also broke into pieces and destroyed) but only when Jerry does what he wants him to do, and in so doing, makes Jerry feel like he should be happy about it.
    Like Kramer, AMD tries in vain to make us very happy about something that should already had been fixed long ago- just like their Enduro nightmare which STILL after 18 months has not be fixed, and when they do come out with a PARTIAL and incomplete fix- as is THEIR obligation after these many years, we are told to feel happy that we at least got SOMETHING.
    They took almost 2 1/2 months to come up with a minor fix for some games, and it's still only Beta, and those with single CPU setups got nothing, all the while Nvidia keeps cranking out the WHQLs, and improved Drivers for a wide variety of games- including AMD-based games.

    There's a REASON why AMD is so much cheaper, and far less expensive than Nvida GPU's and Intel CPU's, and we all know why- crappy drivers that are slow to come out, poor attention to detail, weak performance across the board on all their product lines, and a lack of motivation about fixing the problems in a timely manner that they chose to ignore in the first place.
    As the saying goes, you get what you pay for...
    Reply
  • TheJian - Friday, August 02, 2013 - link

    "Ultimately we have to give AMD the kudos they deserve. They have come forward about their issues"

    No we don't have to give kudos to a company with a beta product who hasn't even fully fixed it yet today. It's like shipping cars with 3 tires. Kudos to the company for putting on a 4th tire for the users today...Seriously? NO WAY. And since it doesn't fix everything (XP users see nothing, eyefinity again nothing), it's really just a 4th tire that is FLAT still...ROFL. They didn't come forward either. They were FORCED INTO THE LIGHT. See PCper's comments in my previous post. They told them he was wrong 1/2 dozen times...ROFL. That isn't coming forward, it's denying you have issues.

    "For users who have a reasonable level of faith in Crossfire scaling and are satisfied with AMD’s frame pacing improvements, a $799 7990 is a very good deal at the moment."

    If you're stupid enough to still believe BEFORE seeing, well you get what you deserve ;) He keeps printing stuff like this. We're not talking Jesus Christ here (whom I guess you need faith in forever right?), this is a company who can't seem to fix problems that have been dogging them for years (not just since april - they've been claiming they had no problem as hardocp shows this is why NV created FCAT to prove AMD wasn't stutter free for years). They still wouldn't discuss the issues with PCper that are ongoing.
    "When I asked AMD for more details on WHY Eyefinity wasn't fixed with this release and why it technically was presenting more of a problem, they didn't want to get into it."
    Shouldn't they be coming forward with what is going on? Still hiding:
    http://www.pcper.com/reviews/Graphics-Cards/Frame-...
    " My theory still revolves around the compositing engine that AMD is using for CrossFire and the amount of bandwidth it can handle. Moving a fame of 2560x1600 pixels 60 times a second is taxing but 5760x1080 uses about 50% more pixels is where things seem to break down for AMD."

    Of course 4K won't help this situation as he notes later (I pasted that previously). Be careful if you're just reading anandtech people. Read other sites when AMD vs. NV/Intel is the topic being discussed here. You should NOT buy a A8-5600 as Ian suggests in the 1440p articles for single gpu cards, over Intel. It is foolish as I pointed out in the comments on those articles (and I wasn't alone). I can't believe anyone would recommend AMD over Intel for all but extremely poor people. To recommend it for all single gpu people though is just ridiculous (Titan with a $100 cpu? 780, 7970 etc all show Intel running away BELOW 1440p). I listed the games and links to the articles showing this in the 1440p comments sections. GO LOOK then judge anandtech yourself. I'm not sure what they get promoting AMD, and giving them kudos but I hope it's a LOT of $$. Destroying your reputation isn't worth it IMHO.
    Reply
  • DeviousOrange - Friday, August 02, 2013 - link

    whine, whine, whine, whine, whine, whine, whine.... yeah you are like a broken record. Reply
  • TheJian - Tuesday, August 06, 2013 - link

    But always right :) Thanks for verifying it. Reply
  • gi_ty - Friday, August 02, 2013 - link

    Whoa there fella, you shouldn't go out on the internet with your stupidity showing like that. Reply
  • TheJian - Tuesday, August 06, 2013 - link

    Personal attacks instead of anything about the data. Shocker.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ad_hominem
    Might want to read that and look in the mirror when done. I don't think you made it out of the pink or orange bar in graham's chart ;)

    Come back when you can at least crack the top 3. Then we can talk ;) I'm guessing none of you people took debate class (note I didn't just call you stupid, I'm insinuating you're ignorant) :) It's ok to throw in junk from the bottom of the chart (I'd ignore it anyway most likely) but at least give me something to think about. You know, a valid counterpoint backed by something...Otherwise why bother?
    Reply
  • Slugbait - Friday, August 02, 2013 - link

    Remember back in the day, when the ideal video setup was a Matrox card paired with a couple of Voodoo2 cards? We were all bashing ATi for their drivers back then.

    Remember when ATi released the Rage, and it didn't come close to the performance that was advertised? (well...Tom's loved it). ATi said it was because they shipped with beta drivers, because their customers really, really, REALLY wanted the hardware NOW. But every subsequent driver release was "beta", and then they cancelled driver development so they could concentrate on a new line called "Radeon". A lot of people here at Anand's (and FiringSquad, Rage3D, AGN3D, etc) were quite peeved.

    Remember when you bought any ATi consumer card for your NT Server machine, only to find out that ATi has never written drivers for NT Server, and you had to use Windows generic drivers (no dual-monitor, etc). Want NT Server support? Buy a FireGL or FirePro.

    Remember when your CAD program consistently crashed, but everything was perfectly fine after replacing your ATi card with a card from any other company?

    "Catalyst" is often used as a dirty word on the forums here.

    They have always known that they write poor drivers. This is not some revelation...this is a public spanking by one of their competitors.

    Will they finally wake up and turn things around with their drivers? My confidence is...well, it's kinda low.
    Reply
  • boozed - Friday, August 02, 2013 - link

    If there're two things I've learned from the internet, it's that Nvidia drivers are terrible, and also ATi drivers are terrible.

    Meanwhile I've had little trouble with either. Am I doing something wrong?
    Reply

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