AMD, SmartShift technology increasingly supported also in Linux

AMD, SmartShift technology increasingly supported also in Linux


As reported by Phoronix colleagues, AMD is working hard to bring its SmartShift technology to other operating systems besides Windows 10. Notably, the company released two patches this week that added SmartShift feature support to the Linux ecosystem. This is definitely good news for all users who want to use AMD's new SmartShift notebooks with the increasingly popular open source OS.

SmartShift was released last year by AMD (with only one laptop , the G5 SE) as a way to further improve notebook performance and efficiency when using dedicated CPU and GPU together. The technology aims to transform both the CPU and GPU into a single cohesive system, allowing both chips to dynamically share power depending on the workload. At Computex 2021, AMD unveiled its second series of SmartShift laptops (such as the new ROG Strix G15 Advantage) based on the all-new Radeon RX 6000M GPUs and Ryzen 5000 mobile CPUs, as well as new enhancements for Smartshift technology.

Just a few days ago, on May 30th, AMD released a patch for Linux that added support for SmartShift when a dedicated Radeon GPU was detected in a notebook with SmartShift support. Later, another patch was released that exposes SmartShift's power-share information to user-space via sysfs, meaning Linux can now monitor SmartShift behavior to see if the system is working as expected or not. Finally, another patch has also been released that introduced the ability to control power-sharing SmartShift parameters in Linux.

Given the efforts, it appears that AMD intends to make SmartShift a mainstream technology. However, we hope to see it on more devices in the future.

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AMD’s Answer To Nvidia’s DLSS Works On All GPUs

Nvidia’s DLSS isn’t foolproof, but when it works the performance benefits of AI-powered upscaling can be astonishing. It’s why fans have been pushing AMD for almost a full year to come up with an AI-powered solution of their own, and today, AMD finally announced it. Even better: it’ll work on any GPU hardware.

This story originally appeared on Kotaku Australia.

Termed FidelityFX Super Resolution (FSR), the technology is basically AMD’s response to Nvidia’s deep learning super sampling (DLSS). But as consumers saw when DLSS was first unveiled, AMD’s technology won’t be broadly implemented to begin with. Only 10 games and game engines will support AMD’s FSR this year, although AMD’s hope is that their open-source approach will lead to faster adoption in the long-term.

And AMD might be right, especially since AMD’s FSR doesn’t just work on AMD hardware — it supports Nvidia cards too. In an embargoed briefing, AMD showed a performance slide from Godfall where it claimed a Geforce GTX 1060 — the most popular GPU according to the latest Steam hardware surveys — went from 27 FPS to 38 FPS while running at 1440p on Epic settings.

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It’s a bit of a weird test, and AMD’s footnotes added that the testing machine was a Ryzen 5950X CPU running the October 2020 Windows 10 update — but not the May 2020 update, which AMD used for another benchmark slide comparing FSR’s performance in different modes. You wouldn’t play a game like Godfall at less than 60 FPS anyway, even on console, given its nature.

Journalists asked during the briefing whether FSR had any resolution restrictions, as Nvidia’s DLSS technology did in its initial implementation. AMD said they would provide more detail on June 22, or June 23 Australian time, which is when FSR is due to launch.

That’s also when we’ll get the full list of games and engines that support FSR out of the game. If Godfall is any indication, there’s a lot to look forward to. The very good 6800 XT, under AMD’s testing, only runs at 49 FPS in Godfall when ray-tracing and all settings are maxed out.

But with FSR enabled, that frame rate jumps to 78 FPS at the lowest upscaling setting (Quality) and 150 FPS at best (when Performance is enabled).

AMD was pressed on the rendering resolution for each of the settings. Nvidia’s DLSS generally can render up to 4x the internal resolution, so a 4K game running in Performance mode would be using AI to upscale the image from 1080p. (Some titles, like Cyberpunk 2077, have an Ultra Performance mode available which upscales the images by a factor of 8x. It’s not really worth it though — you’re better off playing at 4K due to the loss of image quality and the hit to frame rate.) AMD, however, added that more detail would be announced on June 22.

It’ll be interesting to see just how difficult FSR is to implement when AMD reveals more details in a few weeks. We’ve seen DLSS takeup accelerate a lot lately ever since Nvidia released an Unreal Engine plug-in to make it easier on developers. If AMD can integrate its tech seamlessly enough into major engines like Unreal, Unity and some of the bespoke offerings like Frostbite, AMD’s AI-powered upscaling might start to make a difference much sooner than many had hoped.