AMD Teases Second-Gen Upscaling Graphics Tech Reveal At GDC, Possibly FSR 2.0

amd fsr hero
Raster graphics rendering at regular resolutions 8-megapixels-and-below is basically a solved problem with modern GPUs. Despite all the hullaballoo surrounding the search for "single-card 4K," you don't even need a GeForce RTX 3080 or Radeon RX 6800 XT to run games in 3840×2160 with good performance. Heck, NVIDIA even advertised the RTX 3090 with 7680×4320 8K UHD benchmarks. That's some 33 megapixels.

However, we're in the middle of a transition away from pure raster graphics toward hybrid- or fully-ray-traced rendering. Our very fastest graphics cards right now struggle with this detailed simulation of light's properties at even modest resolutions, and that's why we're seeing such a great interest in image upscaling techniques.

NVIDIA's Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS), AMD's FidelityFX Super Resolution (FSR), and Intel's forthcoming XeSS technology are all attempts to solve the same problem: how can we render at a lower resolution, but make it look at least as good as the native output resolution?

dyinglight2 dlssvsfsr sameinput
DLSS vs. FSR on "Performance" preset in Dying Light 2. DLSS on left.

It is widely-acknowledged that AMD's FSR simply doesn't produce visual results on the same level as NVIDIA's DLSS. This is largely because comparing the two is somewhat an apples-to-oranges comparison. DLSS requires small but significant game engine integration work and performs slightly worse than FSR when using the same input resolution. The results speak for themselves, though; you can see direct comparisons between the two in our God of War and Dying Light 2 performance reviews.

It is perhaps for this reason that AMD has been insistent on the branding "FSR 1.0" for the current version of the technology. You can see this in titles that have added it more recently, like free-to-play naval combat game World of Warships and SEGA's online RPG Phantasy Star Online 2: New Genesis. The presence of "1.0" would imply that there will eventually be a "2.0" to the technology.

gdc session info
The session entry on the GDC site.

Well, we may hear about a theoretical "FSR 2.0" sooner than you think. AMD is scheduled to have an hour-long session at GDC on the 23rd titled "Next-Generation Image Upscaling for Games." The description for the session says that "AMD will present some of the results of their research in the domain of next-generation image upscaling technology, and how such technology can be applied to games to improve the gaming experience." Well that sounds promising, doesn't it?

We really have no idea what the content of the presentation will be. It could simply be an explanation of FSR 1.0 for game developers, or it even might cover competing technologies. It could also simply be a couple of AMD engineers laying out their ideas for what could eventually become FSR 2.0, perhaps with the additional goal of soliciting game developer input on the new algorithm's feature set.

What we do know is that AMD is likely to be keenly-interested in improving the output of its FSR algorithm, and probably has some ideas on how to do that. Naturally, we'll let you know about any news that comes out of GDC later this month.
Tags:  AMD, (nasdaq:amd), fsr