In the last week several of you have emailed us about AMD’s Crossfire Eyefinity frame pacing driver – their so-called “phase 2” frame pacing driver – looking for a status update on AMD’s second major frame pacing fix. The last time we talked to AMD about the driver was in late September, at which time AMD told us at the time that they expected to have the driver out for a November release. November has since come and gone of course, meaning AMD has missed their previous deadline.

Since then we’ve been working on chasing down AMD to get a status update on the phase 2 driver, which they have finally provided. The long and the short of it is that the phase 2 driver has been delayed by roughly an additional two months, with AMD now expecting to have a public release of the phase 2 driver ready at some point in January. Note that January coincides with the CES and the launch of Kaveri (AMD’s first GCN desktop APU), so while AMD hasn’t provided any further guidance we wouldn’t be surprised if the roll-out was post-Kaveri, so that AMD doesn’t have to juggle multiple projects at once.

AMD didn’t provide any insight into the latest delay for the phase 2 driver, so at this point it’s not clear whether the delay is due to technical issues, labor/time issues, or a combination of both. From a public perspective AMD’s driver team has already had a busy last few weeks, having been occupied with post-launch tasks for the R9 290 series including pushing out a driver roughly once a week while also making some very fundamental changes to how fan speeds are handled on the 290 cards to reduce fan speed variance. At the same time Mantle is also still in development – the latest Battlefield 4 Mantle ETA is still this month – as AMD is still hammering out Mantle to prepare it for BF4 and for public development. So it goes without saying that we wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if there’s a manpower issue on AMD’s end, though in our admittedly self-interested point of view it seems to us that the phase 2 driver should be the highest priority item on AMD’s plate.

Anyhow, we’ll have more on the matter once AMD is ready to talk about it in full detail. Hopefully once we’re closer to the launch date AMD will be able to provide us with further information on how the phase 2 fix works. We know from the launch of the 290 series that AMD is going to need to pass frames over the PCIe bus – something the pre-GCN 1.1 cards lack the dedicated XDMA hardware for – so it will be interesting to see how AMD will be implementing this and how it impacts Crossfire performance.

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  • The Von Matrices - Thursday, December 12, 2013 - link

    You can't profitably mine Bitcoin using GPUs, but you you can profitably mine Litecoin and other Scrypt currencies. Reply
  • tipoo - Thursday, December 12, 2013 - link

    Litecoin is getting some traction and is still pretty easy for high end GPUs to mine (no ASICs are shipping for it yet). Also bitcoin profitability only looks at current prices, who knows what it will be if you just break even for now then sit on your wallet for 5 years. Reply
  • anubis44 - Friday, December 13, 2013 - link

    "bitcoin profitability only looks at current prices, who knows what it will be if you just break even for now then sit on your wallet for 5 years."

    National currencies are backed by the full faith and credit of the national government, which essentially means confidence in their ability to collect taxes from their citizens, and the viability of their national economy.

    What exactly is backing up the value of a bitcoin?
    Reply
  • Chrispy_ - Friday, December 27, 2013 - link

    The fact that no government interferes with its international value is worth enough to make Cryptocurrency hold value, period. If you actually have faith in the credit of any national government you need to open your eyes and read outside the tabloids. I think the US national debt is around 20,000,000,000,000 - another way to put that is that every US taxpayer is somehow taking a $140,000 share of the $20trillion national debt. Do you still have faith in the value of a dollar? Reply
  • twtech - Wednesday, December 11, 2013 - link

    AMD's latest drivers for the 290x were locking up my machine on a regular basis, so I had to roll back to the certified driver, which lacks some of their latest fixes and improvements. Hopefully they can get that stuff sorted out soon. Reply
  • TidalWaveOne - Wednesday, December 11, 2013 - link

    I find AMD's driver's quite buggy... but at least I have more stability now that I don't use monitor sleep anymore. Really ridiculous that they can't get this stuff fixed and it's been a problem for a LONG time. Plus, my mouse cursor still screws up sometimes... and I don't even game. Reply
  • spat55 - Wednesday, December 11, 2013 - link

    I only get micro-stutter rarely, but when I do it ruins games for me. Thankfully I only get it with really bad games, or bad ports so for me I really do not care, just hope it doesn't happen with a game I really like but by then I should have sold my crossfire HD 7850's for a high end next gen card R9 3xx series :) Reply
  • Jackatron - Wednesday, December 11, 2013 - link

    I've had crossfire 7850s for about 6 months now and with frame pacing coming in I have just noticed another layer of difficulty in getting some titles to run smoothly without stutter. Especially with frostbite engine games. My general workaround has been to disable frame pacing and run MSI afterburner, setting the FPS limit to 60. With framepacing on I usually see less stutter than having it off without afterburner but it's still not nearly as smooth as framepacing off with afterburner running. I always get the latest drivers in hope that this will be easier but I have been telling friends looking to buy crossfire setups that unless they're willing to tinker with some games to get it right, avoid crossfire. Reply
  • HisDivineOrder - Thursday, December 12, 2013 - link

    This is what happens when you lay off most of your driver development team and leave a skeleton crew in charge of the leftovers.

    This is probably why Mantle is so important, too. It should help them reduce the load on their own driver teams (if Mantle were to take off) and put the emphasis squarely on the developers to make their games work.

    Unfortunately, in the short term all we'll see is AMD having to support both Mantle's light driver, DirectX, now OpenGL with more gusto, AND help developers who DO dare try to use Mantle to keep the early games from representing the technology in some bad light.

    So a strategy that should have made it easier on AMD's already strained resources is going to wind up putting extra load that isn't on nVidia or Intel's driver teams. They just have to support DirectX and OpenGL. AMD gave themselves a third API to support.

    I'd expect updates specific to the 7xxx series to dry up just as soon as the Rx series are not mostly secret versions of the 7xxx series. I guess 7xxx owners are lucky that the Rx series is mostly a refresh of their old cards or else they'd never get any support.

    Rather a lot like how AMD treats all their old lines that aren't the basis of current sales.
    Reply
  • anubis44 - Friday, December 13, 2013 - link

    In fairness, AMD has seen some pretty dramatic improvements under Rory Read. He seems to have restored resources to the places where AMD needed them most (re-hiring Jim Keller and Raja Koduri--two of the best engineers in the world in CPUs and GPUs respectively), and the driver improvements in that last year and a half (essentially once Rory had taken the reins and figured out what was really going on) have been quite substantial. One important example of this new emphasis on getting the drivers right is this snippet from here (http://www.brightsideofnews.com/news/2013/11/22/jo...

    "Most notably, we've heard that one of AMD's best driver guys has moved back into helping to make drivers. That guy is none other than Terry Makedon, also known as Catalystmaker. He spent the last two years at AMD managing software marketing, while 10 years before that he spent as the manager of product management for Catalyst and all Radeon related software. Now he's back in a more familiar title as the manager of roadmap and strategy for AMD software. What this should mean is that Terry is back with helping with drivers and making sure that they live up to his expectations. Considering that AMD's drivers were at their best under his helm, I believe that we could see days where AMD's drivers are once again very good, if he gets the people he needs to make it happen."

    I can only see things getting better and better for AMD, both in terms of hardware products and software support.
    Reply

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