AMD said on Wednesday that it has partnered with 2K Games and Firaxis Games to inject a special DirectX 12 renderer optimized for Radeon graphics chips into the engine powering the upcoming turn-based strategy game, Sid Meier’s Civilization VI.
That means the game will support Asynchronous Compute and Explicit Multi-Adapter, the former of which is “exclusively” supported by AMD’s Graphics Core Next and Polaris architectures (that is a contentious claim — Nvidia says it does support Asynchronous Compute, but AMD and some critics say it does not.)
“For 25 years the Civilization franchise has set the standard for beautiful and masterfully crafted turn based strategy,” said Steve Meyer, Director of Software Development, Firaxis Games. “AMD has been a premiere contributor to that reputation in past Civilization titles, and we’re excited to once again join forces to deliver a landmark experience in Sid Meier’s Civilization VI.”
Asynchronous Compute is a hardware performance feature of AMD’s Polaris and Graphics Core Next graphics architectures supported by DirectX 12. It enables compute and graphics tasks to be executed in parallel, eliminating the need for each to be handled in a step-by-step process. This ability eliminates the “bubbles” that pop up when the GPU is waiting for further instructions from the API’s process of rendering.
As an example on how this works, if the Radeon GPU is rendering complex lighting and a “bubble” appears, the chip will fill that void with needed compute work from the game engine, such as the one powering the upcoming Civilization VI. This extra work could be anything useful to speed up the overall rendering process, like computing the behavior of AI.
“Filling these bubbles improves GPU utilization, input latency, efficiency and performance for the user by minimizing or eliminating the ripple of delays that could stall other graphics cards,” AMD explains on its Radeon website.
As for Explicit Multi-Adapter, this is basically official DirectX support from Microsoft (finally) for more than one installed graphics card. In previous versions, DirectX doesn’t provide specific extensions that support multi-GPU configurations — but the API doesn’t exactly prevent support either. As AMD puts it, before DirectX 12, there were very few tools or features to enable multi-GPU support “with gusto.”
Thus, with Explicit Multi-Adapter, game developers can now control the workloads of their engine in use across all installed GPUs, and manage the resources offered by each installed graphics chip. Developers can utilize tools like Split-Frame Rendering, which breaks each game frame down into tiles and assigns one tile to each graphics chip. In turn, these tiles are assembled simultaneously to produce one single frame on the display. Essentially, this all means lower input latency, higher framerates, higher image quality, and so on.
Split-Frame Rendering actually made its debut in Sid Meier’s Civilization Beyond Earth. Other notable “intense” collaborations between AMD, 2K Games, and Firaxis Games include using the now-defunct Mantle API in Civilization Beyond Earth, which hit Windows PC, Mac, and Linux back in the last quarter of 2014. The new Civilization VI game is slated for the same platforms on October 21, 2016.
With all that said, keep in mind that in order to get these cool DirectX 12 features used by the upcoming game, players will need Windows 10. If you haven’t moved up the Windows ladder yet, there’s still a wee little bit of time left before Microsoft pulls the plug on its free upgrade program.