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Radeon Software Adrenalin Edition: an overview

A rose by any other name

This morning, AMD took the wraps off its latest major update to its Radeon Software driver package: Radeon Software Adrenalin Edition. Unlike past Radeon Software releases, however, Adrenalin (think red like a rose, not fight-or-flight like the hormone) only introduces one major new feature in the driver package itself, and it doesn't even provide a major leap in performance over recent Radeon Software releases.

Unlike the major driver updates of yore, those jolts of performance have been spread across the company's driver releases in the year since Radeon Software Crimson ReLive Edition broke cover. Gamers have certainly enjoyed a year of cumulative performance improvements for day-one releases and older software alike from the many driver updates that have arrived since ReLive, of course, but it's hard to make headlines out of constant improvement. We aren't even getting a major list of fixed bugs to commemorate the occasion, as we might have in past AMD software releases.

So what is Adrenalin all about? If Catalyst Omega was about performance, Radeon Software Crimson Edition was about stability, and Radeon Software Crimson ReLive Edition was about features, my take is that Radeon Software Adrenalin Edition is about making Radeon Software more accessible and more tied into the shared experience that characterizes today's game streamers and spectators. Through social-minded updates to Radeon Settings, a globally-available Radeon Overlay, and a brand-new mobile app called AMD Link, AMD wants to give gamers easier access to the wealth of features in its driver software and let them share their experiences far and wide.

Radeon Settings gets more extroverted
 The basic interface of Radeon Settings hasn't changed all that much since Radeon Software Crimson Edition, but it's becoming more of a social hub in Adrenalin. AMD has added a new "Connect" tab to the main Radeon Settings screen that offers three tabs of its own: Gallery, Accounts, and Resource Center.

Gallery holds all of the screenshots, instant replays, and recordings that a gamer captures using ReLive and Radeon Software. Select a video or screenshot, and Radeon Settings will show basic info about the file, present a playback interface for videos, and offer basic editing tools like a trim function for video content.

Once a given clip or picture is tweaked, users can share those achievements with the world through a variety of outlets. Radeon Settings can integrate with YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Twitch, and Microsoft's Mixer service for quick posting of screenshots and videos to those services. For users in China, Radeon Settings can also hook into Sina Weibo and Youku.

For AMD fans and users who want more news and info regarding Radeon software and hardware direct from the source, the company plans to communicate with them through the Resource Center. This tab will offer links to articles and videos regarding AMD technology, as well as instructive material explaining ways to get the most out of Radeon software and hardware.

AMD Links up mobile devices with Radeon Software
The wonders of modern technology mean we usually have a smartphone with us at all times, and AMD wants to take Radeon Software to those second screens with an app for iOS and Android called AMD Link. This app allows gamers to monitor various parameters of graphics-card performance without cluttering up their view of a game. It also serves as a handy remote control for the capture, streaming, and screenshot features of ReLive.

Since I don't have an Android device handy, I couldn't preview AMD Link before today's Adrenalin launch (and the iOS app still isn't live as of this writing.) That said, AMD Link connects, in theory, to a given PC running Radeon Software Adrenalin Edition on a local network. Once it's connected, AMD Link can show various vital signs of the host system's graphics card and FPS rates (though no frame-time info) for running games. We'll talk more about what Link can monitor when we discuss the Radeon Overlay itself.

For those content with their system's performance and vital statistics, Link can remotely order ReLive to kick off a stream, take a screenshot, or start a local recording. As we'll see, the Radeon Overlay offers plenty of in-game control over ReLive's streaming features, but some folks may enjoy the convenience and assurance of pressing a distinct button on a separate device.

ReLive beefs up with even more streamer-friendly features
AMD is further expanding the capabilities of its ReLive capture app today with several features that streamers will likely find handy. ReLive can now perform chroma keying to knock out solid-color backgrounds, a capability that allows the app to overlay camera feeds of the streamer on a game without a distracting border or obscuring background. ReLive can now incorporate transparent chat windows from Twitch, Facebook, Mixer, and Youtube into a streamer's video, as well.

With Adrenalin Edition, ReLive gets the tools it needs to capture video from Vulkan sources like Wolfensten II: The New Colossus, Doom, The Talos Principle, and Dota 2. Vulkan may not be the most widely-used API yet, but the games that do support it are big deals, and it's nice to see new vistas of streaming opportunity open up this way.

On top of its new API support, ReLive now offers two new methods of capturing content. The first, borderless region capture, will apparently clip the chrome off a window to show only its contents to viewers. I'd love to tell you more about how this works, but I couldn't even set up hotkeys for this new feature with my RX Vega 64 testbed, much less direct it to capture a window. Folks with Eyefinity multi-display setups should have the ability to capture the entire span of their multi-monitor monstrosity on the way to streaming or recording it, though I don't have the monitors handy to test such a workload. On the audio front, ReLive can now put game audio and a streamer's mic audio on separate tracks for easier editing in post-processing, too.