Radeon Pro 17.Q4 drivers improve ProRender and kill bugs

Drivers ready for the latest crop of games may get the lion's share of press time, but both AMD and Nvidia have dedicated teams working on drivers and supporting software for their respective lines of professional graphics cards. AMD's software engineers have readied up Radeon Pro Software version 17.Q4. Let's take a look at this comprehensive release.

First and foremost, the 17.Q4 drivers offer a "Driver Options" feature that lets user install up to two gaming drivers alongside the regular Radeon Pro software on systems using Windows 10 and either a Radeon Pro WX 9100 card or a Radeon Vega Frontier Edition (FE). That should be welcome news to software developers. The new release of Radeon Pro software can also work with Microsoft Device Guard to act a barrier against malware and protect graphics-bound IP. That feature uses the AMD Secure Processor built into WX 9100 and Vega FE cards.

AMD's Radeon ProRender software also got a few performance boosts and features. The company says that when compared to the previous version, the updated ProRender plug-in should offer 29% faster performance in Blender, a 35% boost in 3ds Max, a 28% improvement in Maya, and a 14% speedup in Solidworks. The new ProRender also has a new Shadow Catcher material that "lets developers collect shadows and reflections from rendered objects," support for IES photometric files, and has simplified sampling settings.

Just like any consumer Radeon driver release, there's a list of fixed bugs and outstanding issues. AMD put the kibosh on visual bugs on Houdini and Solidworks 2017 and corrected "unexpected behavior" with Solid Edge and 3DMark's Fire Strike and Cloud Gate. Blu-ray Playback issues with PowerDVD on Gaming mode are also fixed, as are unexpected driver recoveries when ReLive's instant replay is enabled and the system goes to sleep or resumes. Fixes specific to Vega-based cards include display anomalies on 10-bit displays, issues when switching from Professional mode to Gaming mode, a non-functional Forced EDID Emulation feature, and graphical corruption when selecting grids in Houdini.

Some issues still persist, though. Running an SDI speed test may result in flickering or blank screens. Radeon Pro SSG owners may encounter "unexpected behavior" when resuming from sleep, playing back 8K video in Premiere Pro CC, or outputting 10-bit Packed Pixel video. Likewise, Vega FE users may encounter issues handling 4x1 or 6x1 EyeFinity grids of 5K displays (an issue certainly filed under "first world problems"), and they could also find that the application profiles list isn't automatically populated, or that the HBCC segment selector may not retain its value.

Pro users are certainly already salivating at the prospect of installing the 865 MB driver package present right here in this link. We'd advise clicking the "Release Notes" tab beforehand and inspecting them carefully, though.

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