AMD Framepacing Catalyst 13.8 Driver Examined With FCAT
In today's article, we analyze the new AMD Framepacing Catalyst 13.8 beta driver in combination with FCAT. In our recent FCAT benchmarking article from April we already exposed that AMD Crossfire solutions suffers from a phenomenon called micro-stuttering. A problem that is often hard to see, but has been known for years and something both AMD and NVIDIA have had. NVIDIA solved the issue starting with Kepler based graphics cards. With a new technique called FCAT (Frame Capture Analysis Tool) was introduced, a whole lot of micro-stuttering was exposed for AMD, putting them on severe pressure to release a fix for this.
AMD finished up their frame pacing algorithm and today is the day that we look at AMDs new Catalyst 13.8 Beta driver with support for frame pacing driver. As such we examine the latest games to see if AMD has made progress. First a couple of things, the Beta driver outed will be released in phases. This first 13.8 beta only supports framepacing in DX10 and 11 games and is compatible with Windows Vista, 7 and 8 in the first phase. The later Beta's will add 8.1, DX9 etc. Secondly, in this beta driver frame pacing is supported up-to a resolution of 2560x1600. So everything below it is cool, above it not so much.
AMD Catalyst drivers 13.8 Beta 1
To check all this, we revert to our FCAT measuring setup, which we'll explain again in the next few pages. This technique allows us to record each frame rendered precisely up to the millisecond. The beauty of this technique is that is measures at monitor output side, that means everything you can observe with your eyes (or not) is measured.
AMD Catalyst drivers 13.8 Beta 1 - You can find Frame pacing in the 3D Application settings, Frame pacing however will be enabled by default.
Before you read onwards, a bit of a warning though, many people do not care about a little micro-stuttering or have even noticed it in the past. A stutter here and there is common, it can be something in your system going on. See, it can be the game engine, or it can be the graphics cards. Stutters are common, big anomalies however are not. Now considering the things we need to do and invest to hunt down micro-stuttering and anomalies takes a bit of a scientific approach. As such this article is not for everybody as it is a bit more complex and academic opposed to what you are used to. This is not everybody's cup of tea alright. But I wanted to show what we are doing and how we are doing it as transparent as can be. Now then, our FCAT solution requires multiple thousands EUR worth of hardware and is not something you can easily recreate at home. I also left a lot out in terms of complex issues and will take a very simple to understand approach, which hopefully, the majority of you guys and girls can understand.
Let's first discuss a little about frametime recording, the method we use (FCAT) and challenges ahead.Meet the FCAPS setup - two dedicated PCs and two monitors merely for a handful of plotted graphs.