2018 is drawing to a close, and that means it’s time for another big red box under the tree from AMD’s software team. Radeon Software Adrenalin 2019 Edition delivers the goods with a free, integrated way to stream games from your Radeon-powered PC to any device that can run the AMD Link application on iOS or Android. The company’s ambitions don’t stop there, however. The next release of Radeon Software will also let gamers wirelessly stream Radeon-powered SteamVR experiences to their standalone VR headsets, including Google Daydream and Vive Focus devices.
The skeptical out there might question the wisdom of adding so many intermediary steps to the latency-sensitive VR experience. AMD says that because it controls the entire graphics and network stack, it can deliver frames with impressively low latency. Another piece of the puzzle remains using asynchronous timewarp on the headset itself to smooth our the experience. While we don’t have a standalone headset in the TR labs to test with, the company says the overall experience can be “surprisingly good” on a fast network. Indeed, an 802.11ac wireless access point is required to use VR streaming with the AMD ReLive VR app.
The company does caution that the types of games ideally suited for this experience are ones that work well as seated experiences, just like the early days of the Oculus Rift. In turn, those who want to try streaming VR titles to their standalone headsets will want to make sure that the titles they’re considering pair well with an Xbox controller. The company says that as standalone headsets get more advanced features like six-degrees-of-freedom inside-out tracking and internally-tracked motion controllers, the experiences possible with streaming VR titles from Radeon cards will also grow more advanced.
For more traditional game streaming on phones and tablets, AMD says it can push frames up to 4K resolution and at rates of up to 60 FPS. The company understands how crucial it is to get controls right for this type of experience, and it’ll support a robust set of on-screen controls with a full editor. Gamers can bring their own wireless controllers to the party, as well, and the application will allow button remapping to get an ideal handle on any title.
AMD also points out that it’s not limiting gamers in what they can stream. Should a user just want to stream their desktop to a remote device for whatever reason, they can do so. Finally, the AMD Link app will allow users to turn off their desktop’s display while streaming to ensure privacy and save power.
WattMan tuning goes thought-free
If you still plan to play games directly on your desktop PC, there are plenty of new features to love in this Radeon Software release. AMD’s WattMan tool can now perform automatic overclocking for better performance or even automatic undervolting to improve efficiency with only a small performance tradeoff.
The improved WattMan can also expose multi-point fan curves for fine-grained control over a graphics card’s performance-per-decibel. Radeon RX Vega graphics card owners will find that all of the dynamic power management states of those cards are available for tweaking through WattMan, too.
While WattMan is a useful tool, overclocking a graphics card by alt-tabbing into Windows from a game, tweaking some settings, and seeing whether those choices pushed the card too hard is an annoying and imprecise process. AMD has improved the WattMan experience by making its controls available through the Radeon Overlay, the in-game control center the company introduced with last year’s major feature update.
Tweakers can now adjust GPU frequency, GPU voltage, temperature limits, memory frequency, and more without leaving their game of choice. Once you’ve tuned your graphics card using the Radeon Overlay, that utility can now tell you just what you’ve gained with a more refined set of performance-gathering tools. The overlay can now display frame-time measurements in addition to the classic Fraps-like mode it had before, and users can adjust the colors, visible metrics columns, position, transparency, and size of the overlay on their game to taste.
AMD’s Radeon Chill dynamic power-saving feature has worked without a whitelist of supported titles for a long time now, and it’s getting even more effective in the Adrenalin 2019 Edition release. The company said that it’s done some work under the hood on Chill so that its graphics cards can step through their dynamic power management states even faster, resulting in as much as 20% more saved power in some titles.
Radeon pixels get prettier
Radeon gamers will find quality-of-life improvements once pixels make their way from an AMD graphics card to a monitor, as well. First, AMD is enhancing the value of FreeSync 2 monitors for owners of those displays. In the past, game developers had to explicitly support FreeSync 2’s hardware-accelerated tone mapping by invoking an API on a per-game basis, and that requirement has apparently limited the rate of adoption for the technology.
With the Adrenalin 2019 Edition release, the Radeon graphics stack will automatically tone-map content mastered in the widely-supported HDR10 standard to the proprietary standard employed by FreeSync 2-certified monitors, making a wider range of HDR content available on those displays. That tone-mapping is still accelerated on the graphics card, too, meaning that the potential latency advantages of FreeSync 2 remain intact.
AMD is also making owners of its ultrawide displays happier with the Adrenalin 2019 release. The Virtual Super Resolution feature lets owners of powerful Radeon graphics cards render games above a monitor’s native resolution before downsampling to the final display resolution, in effect supersampling the game and producing better image quality. Now, that feature will be available to users with 21:9 displays if there’s extra graphics-processing power that they want to put to use.
To help users control their displays on a finer-grained basis, AMD added some display features to the Radeon Overlay, as well. Adrenalin 2019 exposes per-game controls for the Enhanced Sync feature so that gamers can adjust that experience in real time. The FreeSync toggle now lives in the Radeon Overlay display tab, as it ought to. Finally, folks who want to use AMD’s driver color adjustments will find that those controls can be applied on a per-game basis through the overlay. Custom color settings will also be applied automatically when a game launches and removed when it’s closed.
AMD Link gets a voice
It seems like a new voice assistant pops up every day, and AMD Link is no exception. The Link app will now respond to voice commands.
Users can just say “Hey Radeon…” and invoke several potentially convenient commands, like taking a screenshot, starting or stopping a stream or local recording, or saving an instant replay. The app can also tell you your average FPS, GPU core temperature, core clocks, memory clocks, or fan speed. Should your Radeon drivers fall behind the company’s release schedule, you can invoke the update process through the app, as well.
If you’d rather not tune your Radeon card from the desktop or Radeon Overlay, AMD Link also incorporates a comprehensive set of WattMan commands. The mobile app now has controls for GPU frequency, voltage, temperature limits, memory timing, and memory frequency, just like the desktop app. AMD Link further adds the ability to capture basic performance metrics like average, minimum, and maximum FPS in a report.
AMD Link can now become a second screen of sorts for folks who want to share their exploits with the world anywhere and at any time. The app now links to the ReLive gallery so that users can see screenshots, play back videos, and crop and save those video clips to the phone. The app can now become a second screen of sorts for gamers who want to see the chat rooms on their YouTube, Twitch, or Facebook Live streams.
There are even more features in Radeon Software Adrenalin 2019 Edition to play with for streamers and sharers that we didn’t have time to cover this morning, but as always, this Radeon Software update is free to download and play with should you want to explore it in greater depth. If you have a Radeon card, you’ll find the Adrenalin 2019 Edition release is available for download today.