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AMD’s Adrenalin Edition driver sports shorter name, longer feature list

AMD Adrenalin Edition
On Tuesday, December 12, AMD refreshed its driver suite for Radeon graphics cards and discrete chips with a shorter name, but a longer list of features. It’s now dubbed the Radeon Software Adrenalin Edition, and sees updates to the features you already love, and new ones you may love even more. The new suite is compatible with Windows 10 and Windows 7, and is “unofficially supported” on Windows 8.1 via the Windows 7 version.

In a conference call with the press prior to the release, AMD’s Terry Makedon said that Adrenalin Edition won’t bring a huge performance update despite recent reports. The company doesn’t distribute “performance” drivers on an annual basis, but instead improves performance with each driver release.

For instance, Prey performance saw around 19 percent improvement between the first release of Radeon Software Crimson ReLive Edition released this time last year, and the new Adrenalin Edition. Overwatch saw a 14 percent improvement in that same period, and Mass Effect: Andromeda experienced a 10 percent improvement. Makedon said AMD has no plans to “hold performance back” for a big performance driver release.

But latency was an aspect AMD fine-tuned for this Adrenalin-powered release. The company is referring to the time between clicking a mouse button and seeing the resulting action on screen. Between now and the release of Radeon Software Crimson ReLive Edition 17.11.1, AMD revved up the response time for Titanfall 2 to 23 milliseconds (ms) versus 28ms seen with the previous driver. For Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds, latency is now 41ms, versus ReLive Edition’s 50ms.

Compute Profiles are now an embedded feature. This were introduced a few weeks ago in a hotfix driver (aka Optional Update), and provides two different settings for GPU workloads: Graphics and Compute. Obviously you’ll want to select “Graphics” when playing your favorite games. The “Compute” profile is for cryptocurrency mining, which is optimized for increased hash rates. For example, this profile can increase Ethereum hashing from 22 megahash to 25 megahash.

So that’s just the start of Adrenalin Edition. The update is massive, so we divided everything into sections so you can take a breather or two before hitting the end.

Updated features

Radeon WattMan

With AMD’s power management tool, you can now save and load your own profiles in an XML format. You can also share these custom profiles, and/or use profiles that were created and uploaded by the community. Makedon delightfully said this is the third-most-voted feature by users through the Radeon software.

Radeon Chill

As before, the idea behind Chill is to save power. It dynamically adjusts framerates according to movement, so if you’re sitting in a tree waiting to pop a bullet into an opponent’s head with a sniper rifle, then Radeon Chill will lower the framerate. This reduction can save power: in Warframe, power consumed by the Radeon graphics chip can dip down to 69 watts, versus 302 watts at full force.

Makedon said there are markets where power usage is critical, such as internet cafes (iCafe) in China, that worry mostly about paying rent and electricity. AMD makes a special driver just for these establishments, and Chill is enabled by default by request. On the mainstream front, Chill is not enabled by default.

Chill now works on all games, not just a specific batch. Previously, AMD would test games to see if Chill works well, and then add them to a “white list” if they passed with flying colors. But now the algorithm has advanced to the point that AMD now uses a “black list” instead.

There are currently no games on AMD’s black list, but AMD will disable support for any troublesome game it discovers until it determines the cause for the problem, and implements a fix. Makedon said Chill is the second-most-voted feature by users through the Radeon software

Enhanced Sync

Considered as the “poor man’s FreeSync,” this feature enables FreeSync-style framerate control on any non-FreeSync monitor. The big news here is that Enhanced Sync is now supported on all Radeon cards and discrete chips that are based on the GCN architecture. It also now supports games that use Vulkan, multiple-GPU configurations, and Eyefinity multidisplay technology. Serving as the most-voted feature by gamers, it now available on laptops, too.

Radeon ReLive Part One

This is where the meatiest update comes into play, and starts with a new feature that actually resides next to the ReLive tab: Connect. This new area is divided into three tabs: Gallery, Accounts, and Resource Center.

This is essentially a hub for your ReLive gallery so you can manage, organize, and upload your recorded gameplay and screenshots. You can view and trim your video captures and images, and share those moments on social networks. You can also queue video uploads to multiple platforms if needed.

A control center where you manage all social accounts for streaming and uploading purposes. Supported networks include Facebook, YouTube, Twitch, Mixer, StageTen, Twitter, Sina Weibo, and more.

Toronto-based StageTen is the latest service added to ReLive broadcast roster, and serves as the “premium” editing and broadcasting tool versus AMD’s “basic” ReLive features. According to Makedon, this new partner is the ideal solution if you want to stream on multiple channels, perform live editing, use advanced filters, and make loads of cash.

Resource Center
Makedon said this section will not be used for advertisements. Instead, you’ll find “informative articles,” real-time Radeon updates, and instructional how-to videos.

Radeon ReLive Part 2

Now we’ve arrived the ReLive prime. The changes and updates are many, so we’ve broken them down for easy consumption.

In-game chat integration
Rather than needing a second screen or PC to see all the comments stemming from your stream, they now appear in-game on your display. This feature supports Twitch, Facebook, Mixer, and YouTube. Facebook actually helped AMD bring Facebook Live chat to Radeon ReLive.

Improved gameplay performance
Examples include a 0.69 performance impact in Rocket League versus 1.86 percent using Crimson ReLive Edition 17.11.1, and 4.26 percent using GeForce Experience Battlefield 1 now experiences a 2.13 percent performance impact versus the pervious 3.15 percent performance drop.

Vulkan support
Games include DOOM, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, DOTA 2, and The Talos Principle.

Borderless Region Capture Support
Up until now, ReLive only captured the entire screen. But with Adrenalin Edition, gamers can now capture what they want, such as an entire window, or a specific region of the screen.

Chroma Key Support
This is a feature that blocks out a specific color in your webcam feed. Typically, streamers drape a green or blue background on the wall behind them, and streaming software can convert that solid color into a transparency, so all gamers see is your pretty face in an overlay. ReLive now includes this ability, and will remove all solid RGB backgrounds. You can also fine-tune the transparency with color-removal strength presets to help filter out unwanted folds in your background.

AMD Eyefinity Technology Support
Capture gameplay spanning multiple monitors … how cool is that?

Separate Audio Tracks
ReLive now enables gamers to record microphone and game audio on two separate tracks for better editing.

And so on
Finally, there are two miscellaneous enhancements provided by Adrenalin Edition. First, you can enable or disable Radeon FreeSync per game versus the former global settings. There’s also find three new themes to pretty up Radeon Settings.

New features

Borderless Windowed Mode for multiple GPU setups
This new feature speaks for itself: if you have multiple Radeon cards installed in your PC, then you can now run games in Borderless Windowed Mode.

Frame Rate Target Control for Vulkan
You can save power by capping the framerate in games that use Vulkan-based rendering.

Radeon Overlay

This is probably the coolest new feature introduced with Adrenalin Edition. It provides an overlay within your game for making quick adjustments to ReLive, Chill, Frame Rate Target Control, FreeSync, and Color via “more options and fewer clicks.” It can also be used to monitor/record your PC’s gaming performance, and the system information. This overlay works in games that support DirectX 9, 11, 12, and Vulkan. By default, pressing ALT+R enables this overlay, but you can assign the command to any key combination.

But wait! There’s more!

In addition to revealing all the additions and enhancement brought by the new Adrenalin Edition suite, Makedon also talked about three related topics. We’ll kick things off with AMD’s very first mobile app for iOS and Android-based devices.

AMD Link mobile app
For starters, your mobile device must be on the same network as your PC. Technically, having a smartphone and a PC using the same hotspot should work according to Makedon, but that type of connectivity isn’t officially supported until AMD performs additional testing.

To establish a link, Radeon Settings on the PC will produce a QR code that is scanned by the smartphone or tablet (and app), linking the two devices. You can add multiple PCs to the app as well, and just select the listed desktop or laptop you want to view.

Once linked, AMD’s app displays a navigation bar at the bottom of the screen providing access to Resource Center, Performance Monitoring, Radeon ReLive controls, News Feed, Notifications, and the app’s settings menu. Most of these are self-explanatory: notifications alert you to new driver downloads and features, ReLive provides external control of your broadcast and screenshot capability, and Performance Monitoring displays the current FPS, GPU speed, and so on. The app supports iOS 10 and newer, and Android 5.0 and newer.

Radeon Software for Linux
AMD is providing a separate suite for Linux gamers. Distributed through AMD’s website, it’s a single suite that provides open- and closed-source software stacks. It includes mainstream (AMDGPU) and workstation (AMDGPU-PRO) drivers, enabling customers to mix-and-match open- and closed-source software components

Finally, we’ve reached the caboose in the adrenalin-fueled announcement train. AMD is working on an open-source AMD Vulkan driver even though there’s one already available called RADV. Makedon said AMD wanted a more hands-on approach with Vulkan, providing faster support for its new hardware, and a direct integration of its Radeon GPU Profiler toolset. Third-party developers can contribute to AMD’s Vulkan project as well.

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Kevin Parrish
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Kevin started taking PCs apart in the 90s when Quake was on the way and his PC lacked the required components. Since then…
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