Review Index:

Frame Rating: AMD Improves CrossFire with Prototype Driver

Author: Ryan Shrout
Manufacturer: Various

Crysis 3

Crysis 3 (DirectX 11)


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First results with the new driver are identical to the first numbers from the 13.5 beta drivers.

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Well look at that, another great result for the new prototype driver from AMD - the new results from the FRAPS and the observed frame rate are nearly identical.  And compared to the orange line from our initial review there appear to be no runt frame issues!

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The frame times are indicative of the changes with the prototype driver changes - the black line is much more consistent than the orange line though not quite up to the levels of the GTX 690.

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Much like we saw with the Battlefield 3 results the revised driver on the HD 7990 is completely changing the performance aspects of the card.  The average frame rate of 36 FPS is higher than the 34 FPS of the GTX 690 and the 25 FPS of the GTX Titan.

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Our frame time variance data shows the changes in another light - while there are still some instances of 5 ms over the 90th percentile it is significantly improved over our 13.5 beta results.

And now for some video evidence of this new driver in action, I present a side-by-side comparison!  For the best viewing, be sure to download the original 60 FPS MP4 file though you might still be able to see the differences in the Flash-based 30 FPS YouTube embeds.

Download the 250MB MP4 from

Reports from most users are telling us that you NEED to download these files for a solid comparison!

Crysis 3 - 13.5 beta vs Prototype 2 Comparison

April 25, 2013 | 04:17 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

What about 120 hz monitors.with a 120 hz output i suppose results should be better, since shorter frames would be visualized in a single refresh cycle instead of create tearing

April 25, 2013 | 04:48 AM - Posted by Nilbog

Have you asked them about all the tearing?

Obviously the fluidity of the game play is significantly improved, however it seems like tearing is much worse.

BF3 was tearing the entire time it seemed.

April 25, 2013 | 08:39 AM - Posted by Randomoneh

What do you mean "tearing is much worse"?
"Tearing" is essential part of game playing experience. More tears - better experience.

April 25, 2013 | 09:32 PM - Posted by Nilbog

I mean download the BF3 vid and watch for tearing at 50% and 20% speeds. Its bad, and i would definitely argue that tearing like in this example is degrading the game experience.

April 27, 2013 | 07:19 AM - Posted by Revdarian (not verified)

Well, the thing is that you either have vsync on preventing the tearing or you have max framerate.

The issue with vsync is that your performance will have to be in direct relation to your displays frequency, so with a standard 60hz display your fps would either be 60, 30, 20, 15, 12, 10... and with a 120hz display you would have 120, 60, 40, 30, 24, 20, 17.14, 15, 10.91, 10 ....

With vsync on WYSIWYG, meaning that the shown and perceived framerate is identical as each time a full frame will be shown, so no "runt" will ever exist.

After saying all this i now notice that you didn't understand properly the problem discussed with multigpu setups, look at the "monitor output by dual gpus" graphic and notice that the frame metered solution doesn't show a full frame because of it's nature, what it does is that the ammount of frame shown from each gpu is cut to be aproximately of the same size, and this more homogeneization of frame time is what gives fluidity to the experience.

April 25, 2013 | 05:52 AM - Posted by Fatal (not verified)

would this be same for Hd 7970 crossfire? if so i'm going upgrade to them xD

April 26, 2013 | 03:25 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Kudos due where its due. Great review.

Unlike Hardocp who didn't even mention the prototype driver and slammed the 7990 in its current driver state, atleast pcper mentioned the future fix, and they even went further showing results in a seperate review. Thats about as fair as you can be.

Even though this driver will be years late for non vsync xfire users (vsync + rp dfc fixed this issue long ago for me), but better late than never for those who game without that configuration and really one of nvidias biggest multi gpu advantages is about to dissapear , as results even this early are very encouraging.

April 29, 2013 | 06:34 PM - Posted by jonhgian (not verified)

i think that you didn't understand very well the issue...first of all indeed it's not only a crossfire issue, the new drivers will fix everything about the frame generation, after that the frame is put into the frame buffer from the it will be also a single config improvement. And also the v-sync function will work better and it will benefit, as it's always related to the frame buffer, from which vsync pulls the frames from.

April 26, 2013 | 06:03 AM - Posted by Vbs (not verified)

What was the average load power consumption with the prototype driver?

I would expect it to be lower, since a metered gpu setup could be doing only 50-60% of the work of an unmetered setup, as shown in the first page of the article.

April 26, 2013 | 03:26 PM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

I didn't test exactly, but it should be the same.  We are rendering the same number of frames, they are just spaced differently.

April 27, 2013 | 09:41 AM - Posted by Vbs (not verified)

You are rendering less frames, because the metered GPU will try not render any frames that will be runt (in a best case scenario).

In your example image, in page 1, the unmetered GPU will render ~6 frames per draw time vs ~4 frames on the metered GPU per draw time.

Instead of having both GPUs at 100% on an unmetered setup, the metered setup works more in tandem, which should reflect less power consumption. :)

April 28, 2013 | 06:08 PM - Posted by bystander (not verified)

Since the prototype driver is not effecting Fraps FPS much at all, it is not effecting total frames rendered much at all, and in return, the power usage is going to hardly be effected.

Frame metering doesn't require a lot of adjustments to work, at least in their current state, so I doubt there is much of a difference in power usage.

April 29, 2013 | 06:40 AM - Posted by Vbs (not verified)

The prototype driver is affecting "Observed FPS".

The difference between drivers in "Observed FPS" can be used as an estimate for the amount of discarded or runt frames. The only way to eliminate those is by having one GPU wait until the other is almost done rendering a frame, a "tandem" setup. If you are having one GPU waiting, it's not consuming power.

You guys are looking at frame averages (fps) without looking at the frame distribution underneath. The prototype driver achieves the same fps numbers doing *less* work than the normal driver, since its *efficiency* is higher.

Looking at the frame variance charts, we can estimate the time each GPU is waiting in the prototype driver -- e.g., for BF3, each will wait around 10ms. In the same chart, we can see that the normal driver keeps both GPU always at 100%, that's why frames vary ~[0,20]ms.

So, not only does the normal driver spends time rendering frames that won't be seen, it renders them inconsistently.

Bottom line, from the moment a driver introduces any kind of time delay into the pipeline, there *has* to be reduced power usage, since Watt equals to Joule/second.

April 30, 2013 | 01:19 AM - Posted by bystander (not verified)

You should be using total FPS from Fraps, when talking about the work the GPU does. It doesn't matter if it is a runt or not, the GPU still rendered the whole frame. It just gets overwritten by the 2nd GPU's image. In terms of power usage, Fraps has the more accurate picture.

In terms of what we find useful, that is where Observable FPS comes into play.

April 30, 2013 | 06:39 AM - Posted by Vbs (not verified)

Yes, you are correct! :) The unmetered vs metered pic on the first page of the article is misleading and led me to believe there could be more delays introduced than there really are.

As you said, and is shown by total fps from fraps, both setups are rendering the same amount of frames (so, doing the same work), the metered setup just has a different "starting point" (see my comment below).

April 29, 2013 | 07:42 AM - Posted by Vbs (not verified)

Still, I guess most of the time the power consumption between both (metered vs unmetered) will be equal, as when rendering a constant framerate both GPUs will be at 100% usage with one starting rendering when the other has its frame ~50% complete.

Only when there are more complex scenes where the framerate starts dipping (more time to render each frame) there is a need to pause one of the GPUs untill the other is at ~50% frame completion. The reverse case is also an interesting conundrum. :)

April 27, 2013 | 08:04 AM - Posted by fffrantz

You guys have been doing such an impressive work. Hands down...

April 29, 2013 | 01:09 PM - Posted by JustinW (not verified)

Are you guys able to get 120hz through your testing setup with reduced blanking?

April 30, 2013 | 01:23 AM - Posted by bystander (not verified)

From what I understand, saving the data from a 60hz run, requires a RAID 0 setup with SSD's, otherwise the storage can't keep up. I believe THG required 5 SSD's in RAID 0 just to be able to store the data fast enough so they can analyze it later.

I'm guessing there are technical roadblocks for 120hz to be analyzed like this. The FCAT card may also not be capable of taking in data that fast either.

May 1, 2013 | 10:10 AM - Posted by bystander (not verified)

Well, they managed to do it with a 4K display, so it should be possible on the storage side, but the FCAT card still has to be able to handle 120hz.

May 1, 2013 | 02:17 PM - Posted by JustinW (not verified)

Interesting, thanks.

May 7, 2013 | 03:28 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Is there anyway to get a hold of the prototype driver?

May 20, 2013 | 06:35 PM - Posted by Davron (not verified)

I don't want to give you a big head or anything, but might you have helped AMD with a vital bit of debugging/testing that they never thought of? What does this do to 3x 7970s? I also want to know if they will backport the update to 6870/6970/6990s if this is possible. If you can do anything else like this to give them more data to help out AMD card users, we will be eternally grateful, though I'm not sure NVidia will be happy about it.

May 31, 2013 | 10:18 AM - Posted by krikman696 (not verified)

I've read another review about 7990's performance, FCAT, prototype driver, etc, basically the same thing, although there was something i noticed.
In their benchmarks the hardware (FRAPS) FPS was also quite bigger for the prototype d. compared to the basic catalyst 7990. While for the observable FPS this difference is easy understandable, i found no explanation for the extra FPS.
Prototype driver just "arranges" the frames in a smoother way, but why it appears to produce more frames?

May 31, 2013 | 10:28 AM - Posted by krikman696 (not verified)

The review is on Tom's hardware. You can notice that there are a lot of differences in frames rates (both observable and FRAPS) between the 7990's prot. driver and normal one.

May 31, 2013 | 10:28 AM - Posted by krikman696 (not verified)

The review is on Tom's hardware. You can notice that there are a lot of differences in frames rates (both observable and FRAPS) between the 7990's prot. driver and normal one.

May 31, 2013 | 10:28 AM - Posted by krikman696 (not verified)

The review is on Tom's hardware. You can notice that there are a lot of differences in frames rates (both observable and FRAPS) between the 7990's prot. driver and normal one.

June 11, 2013 | 11:40 AM - Posted by TwinShadow (not verified)

it is possible to compare a video of a 690 vs. 7990

September 12, 2013 | 10:59 AM - Posted by mike2411 (not verified)

I installed my 7990 last night and went straight to BF3...Frame Rates sucked! I was expecting much more from this card. I am reading where it is a driver issue and that the driver to fix these issues should have been released already. Is it out? How do I fix this issue so I get the card to work better than the GTX 570 I used to have??

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