AMD Partners With Bethesda at GDC 2017

Capsaicin Strikes Again…

AMD GDC 2017 BannerDuring its Capsaicin event, at GDC 2017 AMD announced that it had begun a long-term technology partnership with game publishing house Bethesda Softworks. This is a multi-title agreement where AMD and Bethesda will work together to enable support for the Vulkan graphics API and tune Bethesda’s games for optimal performance on AMD’s Radeon and Ryzen hardware. According to the head of AMD’s Radeon Technologies Group, Raja Koduri, a close collaboration with Bethesda will enable both companies to share ideas and better address the challenges of game engine development and hardware tuning that they would otherwise be grappling with on their own.

AMD and Bethesda both cite the effort to include Vulkan support on last summer’s DOOM (2016) as the impetuous for this strategic partnership. It remains to be seen exactly which upcoming titles will gain Vulkan support thanks to this partnership but Bethesda is the publisher for a variety of popular gaming franchises including The Elder Scrolls, Fallout, Wolfenstein, and Dishonored.

Forward Rendering comes to Unreal Engine 4.15

AMD has for many years has promoted the use of forwarded rendering by game engines as an alternative to the deferred rendering method that became popular with the advent of DirectX 9. Thanks to a new branch in UE4, forward rendering is now an option for VR and other developers. AMD and Unreal believe that forward rendering is particularly well suited to VR games because it enables higher frame rates and cheaper edge smoothing; both of which are critical for VR. Three games based on UE4 have announced support for this forward rendering path: Sprint Vector from Survios, Overrun from First Contact Entertainment, and Reaping Rewards from Limitless Studios.

UPDATE 3/3/17 @ 1:06 CT: The above paragraph has been changed to de-emphasize AMD’s technical role in bringing forward rendering to Unreal Engine 4.15. AMD has worked closely with Epic as they developed their forward rendering branch but this is not AMD’s forward renderer, rather it’s Epic’s own code that AMD gave feedback on and wants to promote. In the end, this is an important distinction that demonstrates AMD’s commitment to working with and enabling adventurous developers to explore new opportunities and different rendering techniques.

Asynchronous Reprojection for VR

Thanks to a tight collaboration with Valve and the HTC Vive group AMD is going to begin offering hardware support for asynchronous reprojection with the next release of its Radeon Software driver. Async Reprojection is a great little technology that improves performance in VR by rendering the edges of the viewport at a lower resolution than the central area. I for one can’t wait to try this out on my Vive.

Vega is going to be branded as Vega

Radeon RX Vega to be exact. This is an unusual choice in many ways reminiscent of how cars used to be branded. Instead of names like Mustang, Celica, and Camaro we now have GPU-style numbers like 135i, LS 460, and G35. AMD seems to think its time to go in the opposite direction. Radeon RX Vega is the first step away from the old 4xx or 5xxx naming scheme. We’ll have to wait a little while to see what Charlie thinks, but no matter the outcome I’m sure the Vega naming scheme will make more sense that Intel’s CPU model numbers.

LiquidSky Chooses Vega

The final piece of AMD’s GDC 2017 puzzle is an announcement that game streaming service LiquidSky has chosen AMD’s upcoming Vega GPUs as its hardware platform. This win was enabled by a technology that AMD calls Virtualized Encode that is a feature of the Vega architecture. Although AMD didn’t detail what this technology actually is or does it seems clear from the name that the company is offering a way to virtualize the resources in the video encode/decode blocks on its Vega GPUs.

You can catch the ongoing livestream of AMD’s event at GDC 2017 here.S|A

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Thomas Ryan is a freelance technology writer and photographer from Seattle, living in Austin. You can also find his work on SemiAccurate and PCWorld. He has a BA in Geography from the University of Washington with a minor in Urban Design and Planning and specializes in geospatial data science. If you have a hardware performance question or an interesting data set Thomas has you covered.