December is a big month for AMD Radeon graphics users as that's when the company rolls out an annual, feature-packed release of its graphics drivers. Over the years, AMD and NVIDIA have refrained from calling their system software mere "drivers" and have instead branded them as either "Radeon Software" or "GeForce"; that's because these releases have become so much more than driver packages that interface your operating system to the hardware - they've become rich packages of visual technology that let you consume a variety of content in a variety of different ways on one or more screens or a VR headset.
The December 2016 release by AMD is named the Radeon Software Crimson ReLive Edition 16.12.1.
AMD originally simply sought to call this release (and subsequent releases through 2017) "Radeon Software ReLive Edition," but decided to keep the "Crimson" moniker as they felt it had established itself as a brand people recognized, especially after AMD retired the Catalyst brand, to identify its system software.
The December 2014 release was Catalyst Omega, which introduced a boat-load of features and performance optimizations, and last year's was the Radeon Software Crimson Edition, which replaced Catalyst Control Center with the new Radeon Settings application built from the ground up and implemented a large complement of features and optimizations.
With this release, the term "ReLive" has been added to the marketing name string. Something like a "Radeon Software Crimson ReLive Edition 17.10.4 Hotfix" could be quite a mouthful, but by this time next year, we predict "ReLive" to become the new vernacular, just as enthusiasts simply use contractions such as "Crimson 16.xx" to refer to drivers, at least on our forums.
ReLive may not sound as glorious as Omega or Crimson, but is actually a reference by AMD to the namesake of its flagship software feature being introduced with these drivers. The company is responding to a growing demand by the game-streaming community which records or live-streams its gameplay across platforms such as Twitch and YouTube Gaming, which has become a serious business model for some of the more popular playing/looking streamers. What was being sought is a feature that lets you record and stream your gameplay at minimal hardware overhead. NVIDIA solved this challenge with GameStream ShadowPlay way back in 2013. It's now AMD's turn, and it has some pretty neat features and performance-cost claims to outdo NVIDIA.
ReLive is hardly the only major feature being released today. The company also introduced Radeon Chill, a software feature that works to reduce power consumption and GPU temperatures during gameplay, new media hardware-acceleration support, HDR 10 support, improved FreeSync, 8K display readiness, XConnect external display technology, and a brand-new installer that simplifies clean driver installs.
In this article, we explore the various new features being introduced with Radeon Software Crimson ReLive and conduct a quick performance test of the new drivers on our test-bench.