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AMD Graphics Games Hardware

Driver Update Addresses Radeon Frame Latency Issues 108

Posted by samzenpus
from the forget-the-clips dept.
crookedvulture writes "AMD has begun addressing the Radeon frame latency spikes covered previously on Slashdot. A new beta driver is due out next week, and it dramatically smooths the uneven frame times exhibited by certain Radeon graphics processors. The driver only tackles performance issues in a few games, but more fixes are on the way. In the games that have been addressed, the new driver delivers more consistent frame times and smoother gameplay without having much of an impact on the minimum or average FPS numbers. Those traditional FPS metrics clearly do a poor job of quantifying the fluidity of in-game action. Surprisingly, it seems AMD was largely relying on those metrics when testing drivers internally. The company has now pledged to pay more attention to frame latencies to ensure that these kinds of issues don't crop up again."
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Driver Update Addresses Radeon Frame Latency Issues

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  • When will Nvidia and ATI release proper open source drivers instead of us having to install a binary blob to get our hardware working? That would really help if there were drivers that could ship in the kernel to handle ATI hardware instead of the closed source options.

    • by arth1 (260657)

      When will Nvidia and ATI release proper open source drivers instead of us having to install a binary blob to get our hardware working?

      Does Sus Volans answer your question?

      Show them numbers on how this would benefit their bottom line without risk of wasting work for no return, and I'm sure they'll listen.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 17, 2013 @10:30PM (#42622813)

        It's not just bottom line. At this point and time, they would financially benefit from open sourcing their drivers. The problem really lies in a huge tangled web of license agreements from other parties that they can't straighten out. For almost any commercial product to go open source while the company is still in operation is a legal nightmare, and that's why it almost never happens.

        • by nadaou (535365)

          ... and yet it happened with Java. It happened with StarOffice.

          It is possible, even if it's just the parts that can be and not the parts that can't be (like StarOffice's DB was)

          Stop making excuses for a can't do attitude.

          • by drinkypoo (153816)

            ... and yet it happened with Java. It happened with StarOffice.

            I don't wish to trivialize StarOffice's database integration, but you're talking about ripping out one library and stuffing in another, it's not as hard as rewriting everything and if it is then the original code was shit. And Java was even less of an issue in some ways, because it was designed to be maintained.

    • by tlambert (566799) on Thursday January 17, 2013 @11:05PM (#42622947)

      When you get all the patent holders for the patents they are violating to execute license agreements and hold harmless agreements. You think it's only software where patents are stifling things? Everyone in the industry kind of willfully looks the other way, as long as the other guy also willfully looks away, and as long as there's no source code for anyone to drag anyone else into court over.

      Realize also that the interfaces used on the bottom end to interface the software for the hardware disclose substantial information about the hardware as well. Imagine the following question in the press: "if you say you support 'B' in hardware, but are actually doing 'Q' and 'R' in hardware when you are asked to accomplish 'B', isn't the claim that you have 'hardware accelerated B' only technically true in order to have that marketing checkbox checked?". There are similar uncomfortable questions.

      Apart from those, the interfaces to the hardware can disclose additional hardware patent violations, which would normally be covered by the "willfully looks away" already in progress.

      if you actually did come up with something clever, but which wasn't patentable for whatever reason, your competitor could just copy it, and then you would have lost your market advantage.

      Finally, most hardware codec decoding, e.g. for H.264, is partially looped in software s that the license can be tied to the software instead of the hardware, and therefore be optional, and not add to the unit cost as a hardware royalty item to Sorenson (and others). By this fiction, they become an optional software royalty item where the company using the hardware in their design can choose wheter or not to use the capability, and thereby be required to pay the royalty. If it became easy to use the hardware capabilities from Open Source software, then this fiction disappears. You can argue that standards should all be royalty free or not be standards until you are blue in the face, but you are looking at approximately 100,000,000,000 DVDs total in the world, all expecting H.264 to decode them, and that requires a royalty payment.

      No, these drivers are never going to be fully Open Source at the same time they give access to all the hardware capabilities.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        DVDs are MP4 not H.264. You are thinking of BD (and the failed HD-DVD)

      • by sjames (1099)

        Realize also that the interfaces used on the bottom end to interface the software for the hardware disclose substantial information about the hardware as well. Imagine the following question in the press: "if you say you support 'B' in hardware, but are actually doing 'Q' and 'R' in hardware when you are asked to accomplish 'B', isn't the claim that you have 'hardware accelerated B' only technically true in order to have that marketing checkbox checked?". There are similar uncomfortable questions.

        So stop fibbing! Either say "Hardware assisted B" or say "Q and R in hardware" say both if you like.

        Apart from those, the interfaces to the hardware can disclose additional hardware patent violations, which would normally be covered by the "willfully looks away" already in progress.

        So can an electron microscope and/or a bus sniffer, which is something anyone who might hold a relevant patent will likely have and already use to examine your hardware and driver.

        Finally, most hardware codec decoding, e.g. for H.264, is partially looped in software s that the license can be tied to the software instead of the hardware, and therefore be optional

        Put the lot in hardware, and for the 'lesser' chip that "doesn't have it", blow a fuse to disable it.

      • No, these drivers are never going to be fully Open Source at the same time they give access to all the hardware capabilities.

        I think "never" is a bit too strong of a word, maybe if you're talking for the current cards, perhaps, but Intel has seemed to be able to provide open source Linux graphics drivers. [01.org]

        True, true, they don't make the same cards as the high end guys do, but it's closed minded to even think that disparate computing model w/ discrete GPUs is going to last forever.

        IMO, I'd rather do everything in software rasterizer -- Pixel & Vertex shaders still don't give me the same sort of control I had doing everythi

    • by tyrione (134248)

      When will Nvidia and ATI release proper open source drivers instead of us having to install a binary blob to get our hardware working? That would really help if there were drivers that could ship in the kernel to handle ATI hardware instead of the closed source options.

      Get off your butt and pitch in on the R600 target for LLVM/Clang and later the Mesa 10.x roadmap so that OpenGL 4.x and OpenCL 1.2 quality is available. After all, it's already happening. Worry about general computing first. Those improvements will role into the Catalyst driver.

  • by Wrath0fb0b (302444) on Thursday January 17, 2013 @10:07PM (#42622721)

    Probably one of the most important divides in engineers (the world?) is the ability to read the data, acknowledge your mistakes and fix it. It seems like most companies spend more time doing damage control than damage remediation. Reality must take precedence over public relations, for Mother Slashdot cannot be fooled (with apologies to Richard Feynman).

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      They need a new standard: WFPS. Worst Frames Per Second. Find the slowest frame, and how many times that frame can be calculated in one second. Average is a bad way to judge things; perhaps part of the benchmark includes the view pointed at the sky with only 10 polygons, where it would obviously render at incredible speeds, driving the average FPS up. WFPS would give you a much better idea of what the system is actually capable of when under a full load.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Why not give us average, median, variance, skew... or paint a probability distribution onto the box ?

      • by greg1104 (461138) <gsmith@gregsmith.com> on Friday January 18, 2013 @06:41AM (#42624437) Homepage

        The Frame latencies by percentile [techreport.com] graph they create now is the right way to look at this data. It's a sort of probability distribution function for slow frames. Nothing simpler will capture the complexity of the problem. You can't usefully boil the universe of rendering latency issues into any single number.

        The worst frame will vary based on card and game, and the tools available to reviewers are not practical to find them. And what this debacle has shown is that even though they're limited, the tools being used by reviewers are sometimes better than internal QA at the manufacturers.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      You're assuming it's about ego. More likely they still have code that was produced by a contractor where they don't have the rights to redistribute or where they have a license which is only for their use, not for 3rd parties. Anybody who cares about it is likely to be more interested in the code being released, the people that wrote it likely don't get a say in it. Plus, I doubt most people really care one way or the other and are unlikely to even look. Assuming they can even program.

      AMD has been releasing

    • This is going to come off sounding kind of trollish/regionalist/xenophobic, but I'm curious if the location of silicon valley has a lot to do with this. Different areas and regions have different cultures, and in my line of work I have to deal with a lot of people in California. The immediate reaction to any problem is finger pointing, not looking for a solution, which is a stark contrast to where I live where mistakes are OK as long as they are owned and rectified. Everyone who transfers here from Calif

  • I thought I was going crazy, I guess this is why getting that SSD didn't help.
    • by Pinhedd (1661735) on Thursday January 17, 2013 @10:17PM (#42622757)

      This only applies to the new GCN architecture (most high end 7000 series cards) and not the older VLIW4/5 cards (which includes low end 7000 series cards and 6000 series cards)

    • Since when is disk I/O speed or access time relevant to frame rates in a game?

      Disk I/O determines how fast a game loads, or how short the wait between levels in a game etc. Frame rates (or latencies) are determined by the trio CPU + memory bandwidth + GPU. Sure some games may load data while you're in the midst of the action, but in that case likely bite-size chunks that shouldn't affect frame rates significantly (and unrelated to the issue discussed here).

      • by Sir_Sri (199544) on Thursday January 17, 2013 @11:07PM (#42622953)

        Since when is disk I/O speed or access time relevant to frame rates in a game?

        When the engine is trying to grab data in real time from disk.

        This is most assuredly *not* every game. But it is some games, or games in some scenarios. In MMO's you don't have enough RAM memory of all of the possible character armours these days, so you have to dynamically grab only that which will be on screen, same with any zone streaming in data from whatever area you have around you.

        I can see why people would think this is a HDD speed issue. If you have burst loads of up to say 200 MB/s on a HDD, but average around 20, well then a regular drive will hiccup periodically whereas the SSD won't even bat an eye. As you say, that isn't actually *this* issue.

        • by Krneki (1192201)

          Diablo 3 is like that. Putting the key files through mlink on a SSD disk or even USB key will bring incredible advantage.

      • by Pinhedd (1661735)

        Shitty console ports love to stream textures

    • by Megor1 (621918)
      Same here, had two of them in crossfire and it was always super unsmooth even though it claimed high frame rate 120+. I switched to NVIDIA and it's night and day.
      • by Pubstar (2525396)
        What you were experiencing is called microstuddering, and it affects both nvidia and ati.
  • by Billly Gates (198444) on Thursday January 17, 2013 @10:22PM (#42622783) Journal

    In addition the security hole with the aslr being disabled was also fixed last stable release 12.10.

    This year ATI also stopped releasing a driver every month and instead focused on QA before certifying drivers.

    ATI really is improving as they try to stay alive. Bravo indeed and my next card will be an ATI.

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      ATI really is improving as they try to stay alive. Bravo indeed and my next card will be an ATI.

      My advice is to wait a bit longer than that. Every time there is news that ATI has substantially improved their drivers, I try an ATI card. Every time I try an ATI card, it makes me want to hurt someone, preferably someone at ATI. I propose that you wait until other people have bought the next generation of cards, and you have time to figure out of ATI has learned to code their way out of a nutsack.

      Given that ATI is owned by the CPU company that fired their CPU designers, I am skeptical that things can "con

      • And I get money and free heating out of my ATI re: BitCoin mining.

        Currently using a 6750 on Windows 7.

        To accuse someone of being a shill simply because they post as AC (as if /. IDs are somehow validated) smacks of someone who's losing it...

  • Now they need to fix the Catalyst driver to stop crashing on Windows 8. This is getting annoying, especially the BDOD that pop up every other day.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Now they need to fix the Catalyst driver to stop crashing on Windows 8. This is getting annoying, especially the BDOD that pop up every other day.

      Have an even better idea: ditch Windows 8...

    • by GigaplexNZ (1233886) on Thursday January 17, 2013 @11:33PM (#42623029)
      I use AMD graphics on Windows 8 and haven't had a single BSOD or desktop application crash on me thus far. However, I have had a few "Metro" apps crash and the AMD driver looked like a prime suspect from the call stack... (namely the Weather app and the Store app)
    • by jakobX (132504)

      Im not getting any crashes on my win8/AMD machine. Have you tried upgrading your motherboard BIOS? There were some problems with old BIOS versions and the 7xxx series when going to sleep mode.

  • And I mean ALL ATi cards since the early Radeon 7000's. And the problems aren't just isolated to Windows. You can't get a decent read on the vertical blank timings because their cards are simply shitty and will randomly have frame drops and latency. nVidia seems to have somewhat followed them in their path lately but they were pretty good before.

    This is generally not a problem for gamers to lose 1 frame or have a couple of them a bit later (you can't notice it) but when you're doing psychophysics experiment

  • by ledow (319597)

    Really? These people who want to put a binary into your computer, as a fully privileged user, interacting with every part of your system in order to improve graphical performance - with full access to all design documents, chipset manuals, and source code - couldn't work out that FPS could potentially be "spiky" and that just a single figure wasn't an accurate representation of how a human perceived their extraordinarily complex and expensive graphics, and that's why things didn't look or work smoothly?

    And

    • Re:Really? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by dkf (304284) <donal.k.fellows@manchester.ac.uk> on Friday January 18, 2013 @06:13AM (#42624343) Homepage

      And it took them YEARS to work this out? And only really weeks to "fix"?

      Just because it is obvious to you doesn't mean that it is obvious to others. Really.

      If there's a problem, kick up a fuss, complain, let someone know who can do something about it. This is true whether it is software, hardware, real life services, etc. There's always plenty for the people doing support to do, so if you want YOUR issues to be the ones fixed then you'd better sing up about them so that they get some priority. If you say nothing, everyone else will assume you're doing fine with no problems at all. That's the way the world works.

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        Just because it is obvious to you doesn't mean that it is obvious to others. Really.

        It's their job to get this right. ATI's only job, in fact, was to make GPUs and produce drivers which make them work properly. They made the hardware, but they still couldn't make the driver for their own hardware, and have been doing it wrong for years. That means they're incompetent. That's the way the world works.

        • by kllrnohj (2626947)

          No, they built and tested their drivers internally to match the expectations of the public. The public was testing min/avg/max FPS, so that's what ATI built. In other words, shitty benchmarks result in shitty drivers.

          And to call ATI incompetent because they didn't notice an issue almost nobody else did is quite arrogant. Especially since once the issue was discovered, they promptly fixed it. That's not even remotely incompetent, that's fantastic support and I'd love it if most companies were that responsive

          • by drinkypoo (153816)

            And to call ATI incompetent because they didn't notice an issue almost nobody else did is quite arrogant.

            Gross misrepresentation of the facts is a gross misrepresentation. They had a problem nobody else did, and didn't notice it, and that's why they're incompetent. Especially when people have been reporting this problem to them for years.

            Oh, and the part where you claim ATI can't make a driver or that they are doing it wrong is flat out not true, not even close. Kindly go fuck yourself

            Are you the butt-hurt fanboi who rounded up a posse to go mod down five of my comments? I've been experiencing windows crashes due to shitty ATI drivers since Windows fucking 3.1, so while I may go fuck myself later, it has nothing to do with you or ATI. Your internet bravery

            • by kllrnohj (2626947)

              Gross misrepresentation of the facts is a gross misrepresentation. They had a problem nobody else did, and didn't notice it, and that's why they're incompetent. Especially when people have been reporting this problem to them for years.

              By "nobody else" I assume you mean Nvidia, as that's the only other driver that was tested.

              And by Nvidia's own admission, they only noticed and started optimizing this about 2 years ago. Interestingly that's right around the time they started working on mobile platforms, which measure in time-per-frame and not framerate.

              Are you the butt-hurt fanboi who rounded up a posse to go mod down five of my comments? I've been experiencing windows crashes due to shitty ATI drivers since Windows fucking 3.1, so while I may go fuck myself later, it has nothing to do with you or ATI. Your internet bravery is pathetic.

              I didn't round up anyone, and your crashes aren't coming from ATI's drivers. But by all means, switch to Nvidia and experience the joys of their driver issues.

              But in the interest of full dis

              • by drinkypoo (153816)

                your crashes aren't coming from ATI's drivers

                Of course not. That's because I'm not using ATI hardware, because I learned my lesson.

  • So am I right in understanding the resolution is that DX9 games may be fixed by if they get around to addressing that game (dx9 requires game-by-game fixes), whilst all DX10 & DX11 games should be fixed by a forthcoming (hopefully...) general driver fix?

  • So will these drivers be available on linux systems too? i think im still using Catalyst 12.9
  • Writing anonymously as a former AMD-er: the performance has absolutely NOTHING to do with the underlying architecture. The root cause is a software development (if you can call it "development") culture which is completely incapable of moving at more than a snails pace. Thank you Ben Bar-Haim & associated Markham Bozos. I've met a lot of developers who are actually focused on quality at AMD, but they generally seem to be in the minority. Too many managers/directors of SW products at AMD seem to beli

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