Late last year, Raja Koduri and crew, at the AMD Radeon Technologies Group launched the Radeon Software Crimson Edition software suite and publicly committed to improving the company’s software and drivers. In a video AMD RTG posted at the time of the initial announcement, Raja Koduri and Terry “Catalyst Maker” Makedon explained that in the two decades or so that the company has been developing graphics drivers, they've evolved well beyond the device driver alone. "Now we have user interfaces, libraries, tools, applications, packaged as what we call drivers. The software has morphed into a mini graphics Operating System", they said.
Put simply, the complexities of graphics driver development have evolved way past the driver, and now include many more elements – all of which have to work cohesively on a wide range of systems and devices. Throw emerging technologies like Virtual Reality into the mix, which heavily rely on a systems graphics subsystem, to not only work properly, but deliver imagery to the user in such a way as to not induce motion sickness, and the importance of graphics driver and software development become clearer. Playing a game on a monitor is a very different experience than playing it in VR.
AMD recently updated us on the progress they’ve made on the software front since they first revealed the Radeon Software Crimson Edition, and things appear to be moving in the right direction. “The AMD Software Engineering team has been hard at work executing on our commitments with determination, providing meaningful driver updates for over 10 Games with Day 1 support, the launch of Oculus Rift and HTC Vive headsets, External Graphics support with XCONNECT and double digit performance improvements.”, said AMD’s Bernard Fernandes.
The software team at AMD’s Radeon Technologies Group has also delivered 3 WHQL certified drivers in the first quarter of 2016 (as compared to none in the same period of last year). AMD is claiming that stability with the company’s drivers have been improved as well, and over 100 fixes and customer end-user complaints have been resolved.
AMD was also quick to point out that the Radeon Software Crimson Edition 16.4.1 release added day 1 support for the launch of Quantum Break, and offered up to a 35% performance improvement in that title. The company's latest software releases have also steadily improved performance and VR quality. With current RTG software (and a powerful enough system), graphics cards dating back to the Radeon R9 290X era, and newer, more powerful graphics cards, meet or exceed Valve’s and HTC’s requirements for a good VR experience in the HTC Vive.
We are experimenting with a handful of graphics cards, including a few from AMD, and the HTC Vive right now. Stay tuned to HotHardware for more details when our evaluation goes live in the coming days.