While the arrival of the Radeon HD 7990 wasn't exactly a watershed moment in PC gaming AMD's statements surrounding the launch were intriguing. AMD's senior product manager, Devon Nekechuk, was adamant they were looking to “transform AMD into a gaming company.” From recent developments at the Texas-based company that transformation looks to be gaining pace.
Nekechuk claimed that AMD would "win in the gaming space" with a four-stage approach focusing on "Cloud, console, client" and "content." The "cloud" aspect is covered by the Radeon Sky program, which marks AMD's attempt to follow Nvidia's lead into the game server arena. The technology, along with software layers provided by CiiNOW, will allow their server-based graphics cards to dish out real-time rendered games to mobile devices.
AMD are making ever greater strides into our living rooms, powering the two next-gen consoles. And that could be key for us PC folk as much as for the console crowd.
“Gamers are going to benefit on the PC side and on the cloud side by AMD winning in that console segment,” says Nekechuk. “Since the consoles are really the target for a lot of the game developers if it's a Radeon heart powering that console, like the PS4 or Xbox 360, that means these games devs are going to be designing their games, designing their features and really optimising for that Radeon heart in the console. That's going to carry over and give a much better cloud gaming experience and it's also going to give a much better PC experience.”
Despite the Xbox 360 already having a 'Radeon heart' we didn't see a lot of evidence of that helping PC gamers in the last generation, but with both next-gen devices running AMD hardware more developers will be tailoring their work to AMD's silicon.
Obviously AMD are going to continue iterating new graphics hardware for the PC too. “Winning in the component market is really at the core of AMD's business,” Nekechuk assured us.
All about the games
The final piece of the jigsaw is the content developers are creating for gamers, and here AMD have been making great strides in signing devs up to their side of the graphics divide. Nvidia's 'The way it's meant to be played' campaign used to be the flash we saw at the beginning of many a big-budget title, and now that seems to have been replaced by AMD's 'Gaming Evolved' branding and the 'Never Settle' game bundles .
“Not only are we bringing these games to market we're actually making the games better.” Nekechuk told us. “A big part of the Gaming Evolved program is coming up with features. We have whole development studios internal to AMD that develop technologies, such as TressFX, and we roll these out to games developers and help them implement them into the games so that the content itself is better than what it was prior to the Gaming Evolved partnership.”
AMD may have some serious work to do to get PC gamers back onside after years of second-tier hardware and less-than-stellar driver releases, but they are at least putting their limited monies where their collective mouths are.
Meanwhile, Intel are making more inroads into gaming tech with their Iris and Iris Pro processor graphics sets. It seems that gaming is becoming a key battle ground again for the big hardware manufacturers.
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Dave has been gaming since the days of Zaxxon and Lady Bug on the Colecovision, and code books for the Commodore Vic 20 (Death Race 2000!). He built his first gaming PC at the tender age of 16, and finally finished bug-fixing the Cyrix-based system around a year later. When he dropped it out of the window. He first started writing for Official PlayStation Magazine and Xbox World many decades ago, then moved onto PC Format full-time, then PC Gamer, TechRadar, and T3 among others. Now he's back, writing about the nightmarish graphics card market, CPUs with more cores than sense, gaming laptops hotter than the sun, and SSDs more capacious than a Cybertruck.