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

    Typical, resort to histrionics instead of facts and reasoning when arguing.

    Like I said, the value in the mid-range is there every single generation, not just with the 8800GT. There's a reason why AnandTech and many other sites proclaimed that launch "The Only Card that Matters" and since then any similar card that offers that same price:performance metric relative to the high end is affectionately referred to as "the next 8800GT" like the GTX 460/560 etc.
    Reply
  • Galidou - Sunday, February 05, 2012 - link

    Still you won't take any arguments that will justify paying triple the price of a card for not even double the performance, or paying more for a card that offer less performance than a last gen x2 card NEVER.

    That gtx280 was really mispriced and Nvidia took people for dummies by pricing it so high for the performance you gained. The most performance you saw out of those was due to the first over 1gb memory in high resolution like 2560 which applied to not even .5% of the gaming population back then

    I don'T care about the titles, titles mean nothing to me that ''only card that matters'' doesn'T change the fact that paying triple the price for a video card for not even double the performance is tanking people for dummies.
    Reply
  • Galidou - Sunday, February 05, 2012 - link

    We should be happy that Ati doesn't use such pricing technique because it competes against last gen refreshed video cards and justify to pay a higher % price than the % of performance you gain. Reply
  • chizow - Sunday, February 05, 2012 - link

    Yeah they use far worst, at least this time.

    They offer linear scaling of price and performance instead of offering better performance at the same prices which you would expect from a next-gen chip.
    Reply
  • chizow - Sunday, February 05, 2012 - link

    Why would I take any of your arguments when they are CLEARLY flawed.

    Its funny why don't you try using those arguments to justify the 7970's pricing? LMAO. Triple? Its not even DOUBLE the performance of previous mid-range cards.

    Or previous x2 cards? The 7970 isn't even in the same discussion as the 6990 or GTX 590.

    And of course, we've already covered how it falls completely short with regard to previous generation single-GPU flagship cards. Yet AMD somehow thinks it was worth a 10% increase in prices, something not even Nvidia has done since the 8800GTX.

    What's REALLY funny though is how you seem to think the GTX 280 was priced for dummies given it actually meets the standards for next-gen GPUs and deserved its price, yet see NOTHING wrong at all with the pricing of the 7970.

    Now what does that say about you and those defending it??? :(
    Reply
  • Galidou - Sunday, February 05, 2012 - link

    It's not double the performance but not double the price either still 7950 performance of gtx580 for cheaper price, convinces me enough to say it isn't taking people for dummies... Reply
  • chizow - Sunday, February 05, 2012 - link

    Yeah once again, selective application of flawed logic.

    Like I said, Tahiti meets none of the established standards you'd expect from a flagship part while the GTX 280.

    Yet you think the GTX 280 was priced for dummies and the 7970/7950's pricing is perfectly justified?

    Honestly that just makes you look dishonest.

    Or the exact type of customer AMD is looking to entice maybe! :D
    Reply
  • Galidou - Sunday, February 05, 2012 - link

    LOL I'm not even looking at changing video card but I can say bad things about ATI but you'Re definitely 1: a hardcore Nvidia fanboy or 2: they pay you to say things about standard justifying stupid prices... lol standard, what an argument, next tie I'll buy a video card, I'll try to forget a little about perfromance and look at the standard... Reply
  • chizow - Sunday, February 05, 2012 - link

    and galidou goes off the deepend folks. Reply
  • Galidou - Sunday, February 05, 2012 - link

    mets the standard, now chizow is our standard expert, point is I look at numbers, not standard, triple the price not double the performance, I don'T care abbout the standard when I game with it on my computer.

    Oh wait my game stopped playing, it tells me, this video card doesn'T meet the standard for it'S price... OMG I should of cared more....
    Reply

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