What is AMD FidelityFX Super Resolution? AMD FSR explained
AMD has worked hard over the past few years and has done a remarkable job catching up with its competition. While it has so far beaten Intel in CPU space, it still has a way to go before it can bounce back to match Nvidia in the graphics department. It’s definitely making headway there, and the latest milestone in that direction is AMD AMD FidelityFX Super Resolution (FSR).
At the recent Computex 2021 event in Taipei, AMD unveiled its brand new GPU technology. It wasn’t new hardware, but rather a software solution that will rival Nvidia’s Deep Learning Super Sampling. Called AMD FidelityFX Super Resolution, it’s a way to improve your gaming performance even further. Let’s take a closer look.
What is AMD FidelityFX Super Resolution and how does it work?
Simply put, AMD FidelityFX Super Resolution is an oversampling upscaling technology that promises to boost frame rates in games, when enabled. Basically, it’s an anti-aliasing technology that takes color samples from pixels at different instances. These values are averaged, and this is done by sampling images at a much higher resolution than the actual images. This means that the end result will be a more detailed image.
We have seen information regarding AMD FidelityFX Super Resolution for some time. Although AMD itself didn’t give us a very detailed explanation of how FSR works, we did secure a patent filing which appeared a few days before the announcement. The AMD implementation uses both linear and non-linear upscaling networks. Essentially, this means that it aims to keep as much data as possible, to ensure that the scaled image looks as detailed as possible.
AMD FidelityFX Super Resolution takes a low resolution image and passes it through both upscaling networks. It selects different characteristics of the images through each of the two lanes. It then gathers all the data to create a pixel grid and expands it to create a higher resolution image, which is cleaned up and output.
AMD FSR has four presets that AMD showcased in the demo – Ultra Quality, Quality, Balanced, and Performance. Higher FPS modes come at the compromise in quality. This is because AMD FSR renders at the lowest resolution in Performance mode and resizes it. Here’s an overview of the render resolutions and scale factors at 4K and 1440p resolutions.
For example, in Godfall running on an AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT, AMD demonstrated a native 4K frame rate of 59 FPS. With AMD FSR running on the Ultra Quality preset, the frame rate jumped to 87 FPS. Critics have noted that the higher FPS modes show a noticeable lack of detail, due to the lower input resolution, meaning the source itself lacks detail that AMD FSR itself cannot fill.
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FidelityFX Super Resolution vs. Nvidia DLSS
AMD FidelityFX Super Resolution is AMD’s answer to Nvidia Deep Learning Super Sampling, aka DLSS. There are big differences between the two technologies, although they seem equivalent on paper. Although both are scaling technologies using oversampling, the two have fundamentally different approaches to image processing.
AMD FidelityFX Super Resolution is more or less a run-of-the-mill spatial scaling technology, which has been around for quite some time. It takes a new approach, but it is fundamentally similar to those that preceded it. On the other hand, DL, that is Deep Learning, in DLSS means that it does a lot of image corrections based on artificial intelligence and machine learning.
Nvidia DLSS uses a neural network to reconstruct better quality images on the go. The result is much better image output than what traditional upsampling can provide. AMD FSR cannot achieve the level of detail that models based on machine learning are capable of.
Additionally, being machine learning based, Nvidia DLSS required per-game training for version 1.0, which is why adapting games to use DLSS has been a bit slow. On the other hand, AMD FSR’s announcement indicates that it “does not rely on history buffers or motion vectors. It also does not require training per game,”Which will facilitate the implementation for developers.
The AMD FSR output arguably makes you look worse than Nvidia’s first DLSS attempt. DLSS visuals almost match native output in terms of quality these days. With FSR, you’ll likely get the higher frame rates that AMD presented. However, as you can see in the demo, and as many people have already pointed out, there is quite a bit of blurring visible, which means AMD FSR doesn’t quite match DLSS.
Read also : What is Nvidia DLSS? Nvidia Deep Learning Super Sampling explained
GPU, games and availability supported by AMD FidelityFX Super Resolution
This is where things get interesting with AMD FSR. Nvidia DLSS only supports Nvidia’s RTX line of GPUs. On the other hand, AMD FSR is open source. It supports RDNA2, RDNA and Vega GPUs, as well as Nvidia GPUs using Pascal, Ampere and Turing architectures. This includes the AMD Radeon RX 6000, RX 5000, RX 500 and RX 400 series GPUs, and the Nvidia GTX 10 series, as well as all RTX GPUs. IGN also confirmed that the Xbox Series X and S will support AMD FSR since the consoles use RDNA2-based GPUs.
AMD actually demonstrated the technology using Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1060 GPU, showing a 41% improvement in Godfall using the Epic preset. Make no mistake, AMD has made it clear that it will be up to Nvidia to work on the implementation. AMD Radeon CVP and Managing Director Scott Herkelman tweeted pretty much the same.
Nvidia has yet to comment, but Intel has expressed interest in supporting it with its new Xe GPUs. Raja Koduri, Head of Architecture, Graphics and Software at Intel, who was previously an executive at AMD, tweeted on Intel’s interest in supporting this open platform.
We saw a similar situation in G-Sync vs FreeSync, where Nvidia ended up supporting FreeSync under its G-Sync compatible brand. The difference here is that AMD FSR is not a complete alternative to Nvidia DLSS. AMD could and should create a version of FSR that leverages machine learning at least on Radeon hardware, to deliver better performance, if it really wants to match DLSS.
What games does AMD FidelityFX Super Resolution support?
As for supported games, during the announcement AMD said 10 game studios and engines were on board. The demo only showed Godfall working with FSR. The company had also published a survey page ask users which games they would like to see FSR support.
AMD FSR is now launched and AMD has announced that more than 40 developers plan to officially support FSR.
For starters, FSR is available in seven games: Anno 1800, Evil Genius 2, Godfall, Kingshunt, 22 Racing Series, Terminator: Resistance, and The Riftbreaker. Additional games will support AMD FSR by the end of 2021. These titles include Far Cry 6, Resident Evil: Village, DoTA 2, and more.
Stay tuned for more on AMD FSR, PC graphics, and other relevant PC technologies. In the meantime, check out these articles.