Is the New AMD Right Around the Corner?
Rumors are flying everywhere about Polaris, Pascal, Zen and even Kaby Lake. While I love following the rumors, not much is being leaked that gives a concrete idea of performance, price, etc. What is catching my eye is what AMD is doing right now. Last week gave us the release of the 16.3 drivers. The release schedule on these drivers is certainly improving, but what really caught my eye was some of the fixes. The bug list is getting smaller and that’s the kind of improvement enthusiasts like to see in drivers. We have to wait for Polaris and Zen to know if AMD’s financial future will look brighter in the years to come, but the things I’m seeing now indicates that they are already turning things around for the better.
I already touched on the 16.3 Crimson driver, but I will elaborate further on that. The bug fix I’ve been closely watching is one that involved AMD GPUs losing their clock speed settings during use. This is kind of a big deal and I was fairly certain this was affecting those who were overclocking their video cards. March’s driver fixed that issue and it’s off the list of known issues. In fact, the known issues seem pretty minor now, with most issues related to new game releases. There is the issue of the Gaming Evolved app causing games to crash that I’m hoping get’s resolved soon, but that’s mostly because it keeps crashing my WoW. At least it’s easy to close for temporary fix but for those who use it to record gameplay, this could be much worse than it is for me.
Another thing that is showing a brighter future is the level of AMD performance in recent game releases, particularly with DirectX 12. When news of AMD beating out NVIDIA first came out, it was easy to chalk it up as a possible fluke. Now, we’re getting closer to calling it an official win for team Red. Don’t get me wrong, NVIDIA has done amazing things with DirectX 11 and while DirectX 12 is increasingly looking like the future, 11 is still a major staple of PC gaming. However, AMD is taking impressive leads in both Ashes of the Singularity and Hitman. Once Rise of the Tomb Raider is thoroughly tested/patched, we’ll get a better picture of how an NVIDIA favored title in DirectX 11 looks after using DirectX 12. On a basic level, these results are showing that AMD’s commitment to move past single-thread performance and try and improve the overall experience with better multi-threading support could finally be paying off. DirectX 12 and Windows 10 still have certain issues, but if community feedback and continued support keep things headed in a positive direction for PC enthusiasts, then it indicates that we actually have something to look forward to with Polaris and Zen architectures.
The proof will ultimately be in the release. AMD has to deliver this year or it could likely be a final nail in the supposed red coffin. I tend to be very optimistic however, and I believe that AMD has already turned things around internally, we’re just waiting to see those results later this year. The driver support, the release of quality stock coolers, the commitment to a better computing experience through multi-thread utilization; all of these seem like good signs for what’s to come. Why are we so interested in what AMD is doing? Because without good competition, it’s the PC enthusiast who ultimately loses. May 2016 bring back glorious competition for exciting years to come!