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Far Cry 6 Features DirectX Ray Tracing, FidelityFX CAS and Variable Rate Shading

Not to be outdone in comparison to almost all other AAA game releases in recent times, Far Cry 6 has recently been delayed from its February 18th release to May 25th 2021. However, that extra time may come to serve the game nicely, in that it may allow for all the planned features to be integrated. As part of AMD's partner showcase, Ubisoft has revealed that Far Cry 6 will make extensive use of DirectX 12 Ultimate features, featuring raytracing, AMD's Contrast Adaptive Sharpening (CAS), Variable Rate Shading (VRS), as well as Hybrid SSR (Stochastic Screen Space Reflections).

Ubisoft's head of 3D programming Oleksandr Polishchuk had this to say: "We were very impressed with the latest AMD technologies and joined forces to bring FidelityFX CAS, DXR raytracing and Variable Rate Shading to Far Cry 6. We are working together to ensure a smooth 4K viewing experience. This requires a lot of bandwidth, memory, and a Radeon RX 6000 with Infinity Cache that can handle it easily while maintaining high FPS rates." Check out the AMD partner showcase video below.

Intel Partners with IO Interactive to Bring High Core Count CPU Support to Hitman 3

We're happy and excited to announce that we are partnering with Intel to provide the best possible performance and optimization for our PC players in HITMAN 3. Together with Intel, we are working to optimize the game for launch and beyond, with updates, tweaks and improvements coming throughout 2021 that will improve the experience of playing on a high-end PC and multi-core CPUs.

These optimizations include enhancing HITMAN 3 for PC players with 8+ core CPUs, for example you'll be able to spot more crowds in Dubai or experience more complex destructibility in Dartmoor. We're also introducing Variable Rate Shading (VRS), a technique that allows us to prioritize GPU resources where they have the biggest impact. On top of that, we will also implement raytracing after the launch of the game, later in 2021.

AMD, Blizzard Showcase World of Warcraft: Shadowlands DXR

As part of its road towards release of their Radeon RX 6000 series, AMD has posted a video showcasing the raytracing effects that are being baked into World of Warcraft: Shadowlands. This comes as a result of a strategic partnership between the two companies. World of Warcraft: Shadowlands will be making use of AMD's FidelityFX Ambient Occlusion, where Blizzard says they were able to achieve "(...)a perfect balance between quality and performance..." which allowed them to achieve "(...)a significant performance advantage over our previous ambient occlusion applications."

World of Warcraft: Shadowlands will also be making use of DXR Raytracing technology as well as Variable Rate Shading (VRS). Raytracing is being used to calculate light interactions between light sources, objects and characters on the screen, while VRS will enable the game to reduce shading resolution on areas closer to the corners of the frame, or in fast-moving objects, where detail would be lost either way, to achieve higher frame rates. The higher the resolution, the more impactful the benefits of VRS. So it seems that Blizzard has decided to implement two performance-increasing and one performance-decreasing features available from the DXR repository. Catch the video explaining these features and showcasing their implementation after the break.

Godfall System Requirements List 12 GB VRAM for 4K and Ultra HD Textures

Godfall, the RPG looter-slasher that's being developed by Counterplay Games in close collaboration with AMD, will require 12 GB VRAM for maxed-out settings at 4K resolution. As part of AMD's partner videos the company announced when it revealed the RX 6000 series of graphics cards, Godfall is being built with DirectX 12 Ultimate and DXR in mind, and takes advantage of a number of rendering technologies that are part of the DXR 1.1 feature-set, alongside AMD's Fidelity FX technologies. Counterplay Games will make a 4X x 4X Ultra HD texture pack available for maxed-out settings - well within the 16 GB of VRAM AMD has settled on for its RX 6900 XT, RX 6800 XT, and RX 6800 graphics cards.

Godfall features Variable Rate Shading (VRS) for increased performance with no discernible loss of visual quality, as well as raytraced shadows (platform agnostic) and makes use of AMD's Fidelity FX Contrast Adaptive Sharpening. This technology has shown great results in improving both performance (it has been benchmarked as offering performance levels similar to that of DLSS 2.0 in Death Stranding, for instance, compared to a full 4K render) and image quality.

Intel Storms into 1080p Gaming and Creator Markets with Iris Xe MAX Mobile GPUs

Intel today launched its Iris Xe MAX discrete graphics processor for thin-and-light notebooks powered by 11th Gen Core "Tiger Lake" processors. Dell, Acer, and ASUS are launch partners, debuting the chip on their Inspiron 15 7000, Swift 3x, and VivoBook TP470, respectively. The Iris Xe MAX is based on the Xe LP graphics architecture, targeted at compact scale implementations of the Xe SIMD for mainstream consumer graphics. Its most interesting feature is Intel DeepLink, and a powerful media acceleration engine that includes hardware encode acceleration for popular video formats, including HEVC, which should make the Iris Xe MAX a formidable video content production solution on the move.

The Iris Xe MAX is a fully discrete GPU built on Intel's 10 nm SuperFin silicon fabrication process. It features an LPDDR4X dedicated memory interface with 4 GB of memory at 68 GB/s of bandwidth, and uses PCI-Express 4.0 x4 to talk to the processor, but those are just the physical layers. On top of these are what Intel calls Deep Link, an all encompassing hardware abstraction layer that not only enables explicit multi-GPU with the Xe LP iGPU of "Tiger Lake" processors, but also certain implicit multi-GPU functions such as fine-grained division of labor between the dGPU and iGPU to ensure that the right kind of workload is split between the two. Intel referred to this as GameDev Boost, and we detailed it in an older article.

Microsoft: Only Consoles Supporting Full RDNA 2 Capabilities Are Xbox Series X and Series S, Excludes PlayStation 5

Microsoft has today published another article on its Xbox Wire blog, dedicated to all the news regarding the Xbox consoles and its ecosystem. In the light of yesterday's launch of AMD Radeon RDNA 2 graphics cards, Microsoft has congratulated its partner and provider of processors SoCs for their next-generation consoles. Besides the celebrations and congratulations, Microsoft has proceeded to show off what the Xbox Series X and Series S consoles are capable of, and how they integrate the RDNA 2 architecture. The company notes that there are hardware accelerated DirectX Raytracing, Mesh Shaders, Sampler Feedback, and Variable Rate Shading units built-in, so game developers can take advantage of it.

Another interesting point Microsoft made was that "Xbox Series X|S are the only next-generation consoles with full hardware support for all the RDNA 2 capabilities AMD showcased today." What this translates into is that Microsoft is the only console maker that uses the full RDNA 2 potential. This could leave Sony out in the dark with its PlayStation 5 console, meaning that it does not support all the features of AMD's new GPU architecture. There are not any specific points, however, we have to wait and see what Sony has left out, if anything.

AMD Announces the Radeon RX 6000 Series: Performance that Restores Competitiveness

AMD (NASDAQ: AMD) today unveiled the AMD Radeon RX 6000 Series graphics cards, delivering powerhouse performance, incredibly life-like visuals, and must-have features that set a new standard for enthusiast-class PC gaming experiences. Representing the forefront of extreme engineering and design, the highly anticipated AMD Radeon RX 6000 Series includes the AMD Radeon RX 6800 and Radeon RX 6800 XT graphics cards, as well as the new flagship Radeon RX 6900 XT - the fastest AMD gaming graphics card ever developed.

AMD Radeon RX 6000 Series graphics cards are built upon groundbreaking AMD RDNA 2 gaming architecture, a new foundation for next-generation consoles, PCs, laptops and mobile devices, designed to deliver the optimal combination of performance and power efficiency. AMD RDNA 2 gaming architecture provides up to 2X higher performance in select titles with the AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT graphics card compared to the AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT graphics card built on AMD RDNA architecture, and up to 54 percent more performance-per-watt when comparing the AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT graphics card to the AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT graphics card using the same 7 nm process technology.

Microsoft Rolls Out DirectX 12 Feature-level 12_2: Turing and RDNA2 Support it

Microsoft on Thursday rolled out the DirectX 12 feature-level 12_2 specification. This adds a set of new API-level features to DirectX 12 feature-level 12_1. It's important to understand that 12_2 is not DirectX 12 Ultimate, even though Microsoft explains in its developer blog that the four key features that make up DirectX 12 Ultimate logo requirements were important enough to be bundled into a new feature-level. At the same time, Ultimate isn't feature-level 12_1, either. The DirectX 12 Ultimate logo requirement consists of DirectX Raytracing, Mesh Shaders, Sampler Feedback, and Variable Rate Shading. These four, combined with an assortment of new features make up feature-level 12_2.

Among the updates introduced with feature-level 12_2 are DXR 1.1, Shader Model 6.5, Variable Rate Shading tier-2, Resource Binding tier-3, Tiled Resources tier-3, Conservative Rasterization tier-3, Root Signature tier-1.1, WriteBufferImmediateSupportFlags, GPU Virtual Address Bits resource expansion, among several other Direct3D raster rendering features. Feature-level 12_2 requires a WDDM 2.0 driver, and a compatible GPU. Currently, NVIDIA's "Turing" based GeForce RTX 20-series are the only GPUs capable of feature-level 12_2. Microsoft announced that AMD's upcoming RDNA2 architecture supports 12_2, too. NVIDIA's upcoming "Ampere" (RTX 20-series successors) may support it, too.

AMD RDNA 2 GPUs to Support the DirectX 12 Ultimate API

AMD today announced in the form of a blog post that its upcoming graphics cards based on RDNA 2 architecture will feature support for Microsoft's latest DirectX 12 Ultimate API. "With this architecture powering both the next generation of AMD Radeon graphics cards and the forthcoming Xbox Series X gaming console, we've been working very closely with Microsoft to help move gaming graphics to a new level of photorealism and smoothness thanks to the four key DirectX 12 Ultimate graphics features -- DirectX Raytracing (DXR), Variable Rate Shading (VRS), Mesh Shaders, and Sampler Feedback." - said AMD in the blog.

Reportedly, Microsoft and AMD have worked closely to enable this feature set and provide the best possible support for RDNA 2 based hardware, meaning that future GPUs and consoles are getting the best possible integration of the new API standard.
AMD RDNA 2 supports DirectX12 Ultimate AMD RDNA 2 supports DirectX12 Ultimate AMD RDNA 2 supports DirectX12 Ultimate AMD RDNA 2 supports DirectX12 Ultimate

Microsoft DirectX 12 Ultimate: Why it Helps Gamers Pick Future Proof Graphics Cards

Microsoft Thursday released the DirectX 12 Ultimate logo. This is not a new API with any new features, but rather a differentiator for graphics cards and game consoles that support four key modern features of DirectX 12. This helps consumers recognize the newer and upcoming GPUs, and tell them apart from some older DirectX 12 capable GPUs that were released in the mid-2010s. For a GPU to be eligible for the DirectX 12 Ultimate logo, it must feature hardware acceleration for ray-tracing with the DXR API; must support Mesh Shaders, Variable Rate Shading (VRS), and Sampler Feedback (all of the four). The upcoming Xbox Series X console features this logo by default. Microsoft made it absolutely clear that the DirectX 12 Ultimate logo isn't meant as a compatibility barrier, and that these games will work on older hardware, too.

As it stands, the "Navi"-based Radeon RX 5000 series are "obsolete", just like some Turing cards from the GeForce GTX 16-series. At this time, the only shipping product which features the logo is NVIDIA's GeForce RTX 20-series and the TITAN RTX, as they support all the above features.

AMD Financial Analyst Day 2020 Live Blog

AMD Financial Analyst Day presents an opportunity for AMD to talk straight with the finance industry about the company's current financial health, and a taste of what's to come. Guidance and product teasers made during this time are usually very accurate due to the nature of the audience. In this live blog, we will post information from the Financial Analyst Day 2020 as it unfolds.
20:59 UTC: The event has started as of 1 PM PST. CEO Dr Lisa Su takes stage.

Microsoft Confirms Xbox Series X Specs - 12 TFLOPs, Custom APU With Zen 2, RDNA 2, H/W Accelerated Raytracing

Microsoft has confirmed the official specs for the Xbox Series X games console, due Holiday 2020 (think November). The new specs announcement confirms the powerhouse of a console this will be, with its peak 12 TFLOPs compute being 8 times that of the original Xbox One, and twice that of the Xbox One X, which already quite capable of powering true 4K experiences. This 12 TFLOPs figure is a mighty impressive one - just consider that AMD's current highest-performance graphics card, Radeon VII, features a peak 13.4 TFLOPs of computing power - and that's a graphics card that was launched just a year ago.

The confirmation also mentions support for Hardware-Accelerated raytracing, something that all but confirms the feature being built into AMD's RDNA 2 microarchitecture (of which we are expecting news anytime now). this, alongside Variable Rate Shading (VRS) support, brings AMD to feature parity with NVIDIA's Turing, and should allow developers to optimize their performance and graphical targets without any discernible quality loss.

3DMark Introduces Variable Rate Shading Benchmark

3DMark today announced they've introduced a new benchmarking feature. Specifically developed to test Variable Rate Shading (VRS) performance and image quality differences, the new feature allows users to actually visualize the performance and image quality differences associated with more aggressive (or less aggressive) VRS settings. The algorithm is a smart one - it aims to reduce the number of pixel shader operations on surfaces where detail isn't as important (such as frame edges, fast-moving objects, darkened areas, etc) so as to improve performance and shave some precious milliseconds in the deployment of each frame.

To run this test, you will need Windows 10 version 1903 or later and a DirectX 12 GPU that supports Tier 1 VRS and the "AdditionalShadingRatesSupported" capability, such as an NVIDIA Turing-based GPU or an Intel Ice Lake CPU. The VRS feature test is available now as a free update for 3DMark Advanced Edition, or from now until September 2, 3DMark is 75% off when you buy it from Steam or the UL benchmarks website.

Microsoft Paves the Way for Industry-Wide Adoption of Variable Rate Shading

Microsoft today via a devblog announced their push to make Variable Rate Shading an industry-wide adoption in the search of increased performance that can support the number of pixels and quality of those pixels in future games. The post starts with what is likely the foremost question on the mind of any discerning user that hears of a technique to improve performance: "does it degrade image quality?". And the answer, it seems, is a no: no discernible image quality differences between the Variable Rate Shading part of the image, and the fully rendered one. I'll give you the option to speak on your own perception, though: analyze the image below and cast your vote on the poll.

As resolution increases, so does the amount of work that any given GPU has to process to generate a single frame - and compare that to the amount of additional work that goes from rendering a 30 FPS, 1080p game to a 60 FPS, 4K one, and... It stands to reason that ways of squeezing the highest amount of performance from a given process are at a premium. Particularly in the console space, where cost concerns require the usage of more mainstream-equivalent hardware, which requires creative ways of bridging the desired image quality and the available rendering time for each frame.

AMD Patents Variable Rate Shading Technique for Console, VR Performance Domination

While developers have become more and more focused on actually taking advantage of the PC platform's performance - and particularly graphical technologies - advantages over consoles, the truth remains that games are being optimized for the lowest common denominator first. Consoles also share a much more user-friendly approach to gaming - there's no need for hardware updates or software configuration, mostly - it's just a sit on the couch and leave it affair, which can't really be said for gaming PCs. And the console market, due to its needs for cheap hardware that still offers performance levels that can currently fill a 4K resolution screen, are the most important playground for companies to thrive. Enter AMD, with its almost 100% stake in the console market, and Variable Rate Shading.

As we've seen with NVIDIA's Turing implementation for Variable Rate Shading, this performance-enhancing technique works in two ways: motion adaptive shading and content adaptive shading. Motion adaptive shading basically takes input from previous frames in order to calculate which pixels are moving fast across the screen, such as with a racing perspective - fast-flying detail doesn't stay focused in our vision so much that we can discern a relative loss in shading detail, whilst stationary objects, such as the focused hypercar you're driving, are rendered in all their glory. Valuable compute time can be gained by rendering a coarse approximation of the pixels that should be in that place, and upscaling them as needed according to the relative speed they are moving across the frame. Content adaptive shading, on the other hand, analyzes detail across a scene, and by reducing shading work to be done across colors and detail that hasn't had much movement in the previous frame and frames - saves frame time.
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