If you call yourself a hardcore gamer or enthusiast, chances are you've encountered one of those online guides with instructions on how to disable Windows processes. Following those guides can sometimes free up memory and CPU cycles, but it can also cause headaches when you end up disabling processes you actually need.
What does that have to do with AMD's new Fusion for Gaming utility? Well, the app revolves around a similar concept, but it goes about it in a much smarter way. Rather than potentially cripple a system by leaving key processes off, the app lets users turn "unneeded" processes and background tasks on and off with a single click. AMD's spiel is that you can click the button in the Fusion for Gaming tool, hop into a game, then click the button again once you're done to restore everything to normal.
While chopping down non-vital processes is the key idea here, AMD Gaming Strategist Brent Barry told us the app takes care not to shut down "anything that might cause your PC to become unstable or insecure." That includes anti-virus software, at least in the default profile. The application nonetheless warns that it "may adversely affect the stability and/or security of your computer" in "some situations," so some important apps could potentially slip through the net.
But wait a minute—can disabling background tasks really impact performance significantly, especially on a multi-core system? Barry says gains can range from 2-5%, although that can obviously vary quite a bit depending on the PC. The Fusion for Gaming utility has more tricks up its sleeve, though. Depending on the profile you've selected, the app can also overclock the graphics card, processor, and apply "hard-drive acceleration." One of the components—AMD Boost—can also shut down "some of the things that happen within the processor that you really don't want to have happen while playing a game," such as Cool'n'Quiet and power-state switching.
In Barry's example, selecting a custom profile and clicking the Fusion for Gaming button not only disabled a bunch of background apps and processes, but it also pushed the test system's Phenom X4 9550 Black Edition processor from 2.6GHz to 2.8GHz. That's not exactly a mind-blowing overclock, but users can go behind the scenes and tweak profiles to their liking.
Interestingly, while this tool caters largely to enthusiasts and gamers, AMD has striven to make it easy to use. Really, all you have to do is click the big, round AMD Fusion for Gaming button, wait a little bit for everything to close down, then pop into your game and enjoy the
placebo effect performance boost. That ease of use could make the program useful in other instances, too, like if you want to maximize your laptop's battery life in order to watch a long movie during a flight.
So, where do you sign up? Barry told us the first release of the Fusion for Gaming tool will become available in beta form today. He didn't mention where you'll be able to grab it, but we expect it to show up somewhere on AMD's Game website. Don't expect to run this tool on your Core 2 Quad rig, though—you need an AMD processor for the utility to load at all.
As a side note, Barry told us the Fusion name comes as part of a new, AMD-wide marketing campaign. With this campaign, AMD wants to emphasize the concept of Fusion as "not just the CPU and GPU coming together, but actually the way AMD works with other people bringing the ideas and technologies and people together to make better solutions." Yeah. Check out the image gallery below for shots of the Fusion for Gaming utility in action.
Update: You can now download the Fusion for Gaming utility from this page.