Getting the Most Out of GCN: Driver Improvements

With the launch of any new architecture there’s still a lot of room for improvement on the part of driver developers, and GCN is no exception. On January 20th AMD released the first driver update for the 7000 Series, which brought with it an interesting mix of bug fixes, new features, and performance improvements. On the feature side AMD enabled support for Analytical Anti-Aliasing and Super Sample Anti-Aliasing for DX10+ games, an overdue feature that we’re very happy to see finally make it to AMD cards. Meanwhile on the performance side the new drivers improved the performance of the 7000 series in several games. Game performance typically rises slowly over time, but as this is one of the first post-launch driver releases, the gains are larger than what we’re used to seeing farther down the line.

To get an idea of where performance has improved and by how much, we reran our entire benchmark suite on the 7970.

As to be expected, at this point in time AMD is mostly focusing on improving performance on a game-by-game basis to deal with games that didn’t immediately adapt to the GCN architecture well, while the fact that they seem to be targeting common benchmarks first is likely intentional. Crysis: Warhead is the biggest winner here as minimum framerates in particular are greatly improved; we’re seeing a 22% improvement at 1920, while at 2560 there’s still an 11% improvement. Metro:2033 and DiRT 3 also picked up 10% or more in performance versus the release drivers, while Battlefield 3 has seen a much smaller  2%-3% improvement. Everything else in our suite is virtually unchanged, as it looks like AMD has not targeted any of those games at this time.

As one would expect, a result of these improvements the performance lead of the 7970 versus the GTX 580 has widened. The average lead for the 7970 is now 19% at 1920 and 26% at 2560, with the lead approaching 40% in games like Metro that specifically benefited from this update. At this point the only game the 7970 still seems to have trouble pulling well ahead of the GTX 580 is Battlefield 3, where the lead is only 8%.

AMD's Radeon HD 7950 Meet the Sapphire HD 7950 Overclock Edition
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  • chizow - Sunday, February 05, 2012 - link

    You want to talk about respect while throwing out inflammatory comments like fanboy every reply while ignoring the actual facts and logic of an argument? Respect is given where its due.

    Anyways, like I said, just draw out the pricing history on these high-end parts for the last 5-6 years and you will see what AMD is doing here is unprecedented. At no point has one of these GPU makers ever asked for flagship prices with so little improvement over the last-gen flagships when using a new process node/GPU architecture.

    If you are a reasonable person who is deserving of respect, I think you will find truth and reason in what I've written here, fanboyism and lack of respect aside.
    Reply
  • Galidou - Sunday, February 05, 2012 - link

    Find me anywhere I called you an idiot or a stupid or anything, the worse I said is that ultimate knowledge is crazyness, never called you crazy or ANYTHING, while you did it again., sad to see you have to resolve to those strategy as arguments....

    The lowest price I can find right now of the 7970 is 520$ and lowest I can find for 6950 is 240$, a little more than double as I said.

    I said I trolled and I know it inflammatory comments and lack of respect is different, I was poking your ''facts'' and the way you react and still lack of respect toward me just shows even more...

    ''who is deserving of respect''

    EVERYONE deserves respect and I will still respect you even if you don't for me because respect can't be bought, it is acquired or applied...
    Reply
  • Galidou - Sunday, February 05, 2012 - link

    And btw you still forgot to input the amount of memory which is 3gb that you forget everytime in your comments.... Reply
  • Galidou - Sunday, February 05, 2012 - link

    ''If you are a reasonable person who is deserving of respect''

    I just still can't beleive you said that... ''who is deserving respect'' it's deceiving to see such lack of respect in a conversation about gpus,

    I understand what you mean, Nvidia as always been about giving double the performance of last gen but they are hitting a wall where it won't be possible until they change the limit of the max TDP which is 300w, they are very close to it, I guess they left some space for double chip cards, but nvidia which isn't their strenght of watt/performance will probably have to change things if they want to squeeze double the gtx580 in their gtx680 in 300w TDP...

    Considering ATI are the best at watts/performance and they only squeezed that kind of performance in 250w.....
    Reply
  • chizow - Sunday, February 05, 2012 - link

    6950 was as cheap as $180-$200 in some sales and the 7970 is $550-$600, so yes at times it was 3x.

    But the point remains, the 7970 does a worst job at upholding your standard than the GTX 280.

    Also, it was a full 2x framebuffer, 8800GT was only 512MB, same as the 9800GX2 which was a massive amount of VRAM at the time. It was also more than the 512MB on the original 4870 with a full 512-bit bus.

    Once again, the 280 was a flagship card by every metric, if you want to argue honestly over the facts, at least try to be honest about it.
    Reply
  • Galidou - Sunday, February 05, 2012 - link

    Yes you're right the 8800gt was 512mb, wasn'T there a 1gb version? I can'T remember...
    4870 was cheating, it used the first ddr5 memory so it doubled the bandwidth without adding die size, which helped ALOT to it'S great performance, I still like my 4870 which can almost still run everything very well...
    Reply
  • Galidou - Sunday, February 05, 2012 - link

    ok you want to go in the ''as cheap as'' well my friend got right after me a rebate with special and had a 8800gt for 150$ after everything, I was using regular price for my 8800gt at 180$, so consider a 8800gt at 150$ times 4.33 = 650$, wow, 4 times and a third.... Reply
  • Galidou - Sunday, February 05, 2012 - link

    IT WAS A FLAGSHIP CARD LOL the radeon 4870 got so close to it with a die half as big and that was what, a month and a half later... speak about flagship at 650$ Reply
  • Galidou - Sunday, February 05, 2012 - link

    worse than that, the radeon 4870 wasn't even meant to compete with the high end, AMD had left that market for single GPU but still it came SO CLOSE... speak about Flagshipn amzingness that doubles the previous generation..... Reply
  • Galidou - Sunday, February 05, 2012 - link

    If you find something to say against my last comment I'm over with you, your closed mind will be the strognest I have ever seen. He will find a reason of the gtx 280 selling so high because of the Nvidia's CEO not having enough food on the table so they had to adjust the price....

    Poor them, send them food, they're starving!!
    Reply

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