AMD driver update paves way for Vega's arrival

In preparation for the launch of its upcoming Vega graphics cards, AMD has released Radeon Software Crimson ReLive version 17.7.2 into the wild. The new driver carries a slew of new features that enhance game responsiveness, power consumption, and screen syncing.

The most notable addition in 17.7.2 is the new Enhanced Sync feature. Enhanced Sync is an alternative to vsync, and you won’t need a FreeSync certified monitor to gain its benefits. Unlike vsync, which caps the sampling rate to the refresh rate of your monitor, Enhanced Sync outputs the most recent frame and discards the rest. This reduces input lag without compromising visual fidelity. When it detects that the output rate is much lower than the refresh rate of the monitor, it disables itself completely. While this does re-introduce screen tearing, AMD believes that the sacrifice to visual fidelity is necessary to provide a better experience to the gamers.

Other changes include updates to Radeon Chill, which AMD introduced earlier this year to curb excessive power consumption when games are idle. At launch, the feature was only available for DX9 and DX11 titles. Since then, games based on DX12 and Vulkan have been popping up everywhere. With the release of Radeon Software 17.7.2, AMD has extended Radeon Chill to support DX12 and Vulkan so they can be cool too. In addition, Radeon Chill now supports hybrid graphics setups (typically found in gaming laptops), external graphics cards, and multi-GPU setups. AMD claims that Radeon Chill can extend laptop battery life by 30% in League of Legends.

Wattman, the control interface for all performance settings, now has the added ability for memory underclocking and power state controls.

Radeon Software 17.7.2 also looks to enhance one of the hottest forms of media: streams. For starters, the max capture bitrate through AMD’s ReLive capturing system has been raised from 50Mbps to 100 Mbps, increasing the quality of the capture. Streamers who want less of their face on screen can now enable the camera transparency setting to make that pimple less distracting. Notifications have been refined to provide real-time updates through the record timer overlay toolbar and network connectivity issues. Finally, Audio controls now include push-to-talk support, customizable microphone volume control, and volume gain control.

AMD has also improved its Liquid VR 360 SDK video encoding and decoding tool for better frame rates and less dropped frames. Ambisonic Audio support has been added, pushing the number of audio channels to six.

New features are great, but improving performance is still paramount with Radeon Software 17.7.2. The shader cache has been improved to reduce game load times, stuttering from CPU overload, and map hitching during gaming. As a demonstration, Starcraft 2 has been shown to have a 10% faster load time using the new driver. Frame latency has also been reduced for a number of titles including Overwatch, For Honor, Witcher 3, Fallout 4, and many others. Many bugs, including the infamous NieR: Automata white screen issue, have been squashed as well.

Eager to try it out? Both the driver suite and patch notes can be found on AMD’s official site.