AMD CTO Hints At AI-Assisted FSR Upscaling In 2024

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AI-assisted image upscaling is pretty neat. It can take a low-rez image and turn it into a pretty convincing simulacrum of a high-rez version of the same image. NVIDIA's DLSS and Intel's XeSS are basically doing AI image upscaling at a rate of dozens of images per second, utilizing both prior frames and motion vectors to fill in additional detail missing from a low-rez input render.

AMD's FidelityFX Super Resolution achieves the same thing, fundamentally, without using AI. However, that word "fundamentally" is doing some heavy lifting in that sentence. Outside of the best cases, FSR's results simply don't quite match up to the output from its competitors. FSR certainly has its advantages—it's open source, it runs on just about anything, and it doesn't require dedicated AI hardware—but image quality isn't one of them.

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AMD CTO Mark Papermaster appearing on No Priors YouTube channel.

The red team may turn to AI assistance to alleviate this state of affairs sooner than later. AMD's Chief Technology Officer, Mark Papermaster, gave a short interview to a site called No Priors that primarily focuses on AI developments and investment advice about companies specializing in AI technologies. Most of the interview is stuff that regular HotHardware readers will already know, but at the end, host Sarah Guo asks Papermaster this question, prompting a very interesting response from the industry veteran:

Sarah Guo: What do you want people to know about that AMD's focused on in 2024?
Papermaster: Well this, for us, is a is a huge year because we have spent so many years developing our hardware and software capabilities for AI; we've just completed AI-enabling our entire portfolio: cloud, edge, you know, our PCs, our embedded devices, our gaming devices—we're enabling our gaming devices to upscale using AI—and 2024 is really a huge deployment year for us, so now the bedrock's there, the capability's there. I talked to you about all the partners that we're working with, so 2024 is for us, a huge deployment.
At this time, AMD has not officially used AI to upscale anything, and it certainly hasn't announced any AI-powered upscaler for gaming, so we're not quite sure what Papermaster is talking about here. AMD's extant RDNA 3-based Radeon cards do include a rudimentary AI accelerator of some kind, and rumors are that the company's next-next-generation graphics architecture—that's RDNA 5, not RDNA 4—is going to go hard on AI and ray-tracing performance.

Also, Microsoft is clearly gearing up to announce some new DirectX updates, at least one of which has to do with image upscaling for video games. AMD has been one of Microsoft's closest partners for basically the entire lifetime of DirectX; it's likely the two are developing the new Windows feature in concert. With those details in mind, it wouldn't exactly be a shock if AMD announced a new, AI-powered version of FSR to go along with its RDNA 4 GPUs later this year. We'll just have to wait and see.