Radeon Software Crimson ReLive Edition Is Here! – Bring Performance and Features to Both Games and Pro Power Users Alike

Posted by at 10:34 am on December 8, 2016

For the past two years, AMD has made a point of releasing one major software update to Radeon users and gamers annually. In 2014 this started with Catalyst Omega, a very nice jump in performance, compatibility testing and new features came with that release.

AMD was going to focus on building great software with regular and repeated updates. In 2015 we got a rebrand along with the release: Radeon Software Crimson Edition.

AMD totally revamped the visual and user experience of the driver software, bringing them into the modern world of style and function. New features and added performance were also the hallmarks of this release, with a stronger promise to produce more frequent drivers to address any performance gaps, stability concerns and to include new features.

Today, AMD is launching the Radeon Software Crimson ReLive Edition driver.

AMD a few months ago re-organized Radeon pro and gamer teams as a single unit – the Radeon Technologies Group.  One of the major new features  of the Radeon Software Crimson ReLive Edition driver is support both the consumer cards and and the pro cards such as the new Radeon Pro WX line which is focused on the traditional workstation market.

Note: Yes, some of the slides below have been leaked to the net. We honor our NDAs here at TOT.  We love talking to PR people and engineers from AMD but not their lawyers.  We are sure their lawyers are fine people. but we do not need to know them in a professional way. 😉  Also, the slides we are using  just got to us last night from AMD. There are a few differences from the ones we given from our briefing last week.

AMD in 2016 Moving Towards Testing, Optimization and Stability

More than 400 million people play PC games using Radeon graphics and others depend on their pro cards to get their work done (CAD, imaging, video editing, etc). So AMD did take care of the consumers, gamers, professionals, and developers in 2016. After all, the past can give you an idea of the future. Another way to look at it, great hardware does nothing without strong software supporting it.

Radeon Software Crimson Edition gave us better streamlined interface over the Catalyst Control Center replaced. The new driver sported the introduction of Frame Pacing, Liquid VR integration (AKA Support VIVE/Oculus), shader caching, custom resolution support, FreeSync improvements, FrameRate Target Control (FRTC), Game Profiles, improved Eyefinity support and a new driver branch for performance

In 2016 Users were promised six WHQL updates in 2016, and so far there have been eight. There have been a total of 29 driver releases (which makes 21 betas / hotfixes/ day zero) with 28 new games supported and optimized, most of which were supported on day one. AMD has stated that this resulted in a user satisfaction rating (as rated through their metrics) of 9/10. In short both customers and AMD can say Crimson style of doing things is much better than the AMD driver tools and software of past generations. AMD did what they set out to do in 2016 when can to driver software.

The 2016 update, Crimson ReLive, AMD has focused the updates into three key areas: Consumer, Developer and Professional. These are not hard-and-fast divisions, given that features for one market may also be used for another. After all you be playing a game for awhile and then move over to Photoshop or Avid to get work done.

“With Radeon Software, we’ve continued to set the highest standards by delivering the most complete and reliable software stack for gamers and creators, and one of the most community-lauded user interfaces,” said Raja Koduri, senior vice president and chief architect of AMD’s Radeon Technologies Group, in a statement. “Crimson ReLive Edition lets gamers share their biggest gaming victories, and gives creators free open source tools and rock solid stability.”

Consumer Focus Features

We will start with what almost all of you reading care about – game play, consumer apps and video play back.

ReLive Easy to Use On Screen Recording and Streaming – Both Gamers and Professionals

This is the feature from which the new drivers take their name. AMD gamers can now simply ‘relive’ their game play glory by capturing, streaming, and sharing recorded gaming sessions. Integrated within the Radeon software the feature so far for us has shown to be a minimal impact on the game play (3-4% drop in frame rate when turn on).

All this functionality is available through a hotkey enabled popup overlay while in-game for quick and convenient customizable settings, custom scene layouts. The Radeon has also worked  hard to make sharing gaming highlights, and share their gaming exploits and conquests with online friends and competitors. ReLive allows you to not just stream to your favorite services like YouTube and Twitch, you can setup and configure your streaming overlays easily to customize it for your audience as well.

AMD was quick to point out to us was that Radeon users get this capability in the driver, not in a secondary software application or or being forced to do a registration.

ReLive isn’t just useful for games though, it can be a valuable function for collaboration, training, and customer support professionals. Plus there isn’t an extra licensing fee to pay to use it!

Radeon Chill

This is described by AMD as “a power-efficient frame rate controller for Radeon graphics that dynamically regulates frame rate based on the speed of the mouse movements.”  Radeon Chill builds on a feature originally developed by HiAlgo and is designed to reduce system power consumption while maintaining an excellent end-user gaming experience, enabling smooth game play without noticeable impact to performance while maintaining a cooler and quieter system

A ‘deep dive’ video about Radeon Chill technology, hosted by AMD’s Scott Wasson, is embedded below.

FreeSync Now Support Fullscreen Borderless Window Mode

This feature is said to bring “effortless switching between applications”. Furthermore FreeSync should now provide even smoother gradual refresh ramping for improved user experiences.


AMD combines all of its VR related assets and tools into its LiquidVR branding, and with the Crimson launch last year it integrated the LiquidVR assets into the consumer driver set in preparation for the onslaught of 2016 VR headsets and content that entered the market. With Crimson ReLive, three new assets are being added into the platform.

LiquidVR: Affinity Multi-GPU

From day one AMD said the  RX480 was a VR Ready card, and when combined with another RX 480 and DirectX12, offered great performance. DirectX 12 offers many different modes for multi-GPU, with alternate frame rendering or separate asset rendering depending on the mode used. Affinity Multi-GPU takes that AFR concept but splits it per-eye for virtual reality. This allows each card to work independently on each eye, resulting in up to 20x lower frame re-projection as reported.

The main benefit here is that each card should be working near its peak load, and can compensate if one GPU has a longer-than expected frame, although it means maintaining timing and can make sharing assets an issue. Nonetheless, AMD has stated that during complex scenes it will certainly help the immersion factor. This is something an owner of a GTX 1060 card (price near the RX 480) will never have since Nvidia does not let that card support SLI (multi-GPU technology for linking two or more video cards together to produce a single output)!

LiquidVR: MultiView and MultiRes Rendering

Multi-projection is not a new concept for VR but is important to have in multi-camera rendering for high frame rating and not wasting cycles on details that are hidden or far way. MutliView is AMD’s tool to aid in multi-camera rendering by optimizing shared assets and reducing the processing overhead.

MultiRes Rendering is a solution to the fact that humans can only focus on a small fraction of what they see in front of them, and as a result we don’t really need everything in view at the best detail. The MultiRes tool will make the GPUs spend more time improving the quality of the assets in focus and less time at areas that will be of low focal importance. AMD slightly confuses the matter by saying ‘pixel density’ but in this case it means more along the lines of higher resolution rendering for the part in focus being downsampled for a given area for a better quality visual where it matters.

LiquidVR: TrueAudio Next

While TrueAudio was announced and released several years ago, and despite only a small handful of games using it, moving to VR makes it more important to calculate where audio comes from and how it propagates through a particular scene. Crimson ReLive now adds the TrueAudio Next package into the consumer and professional drivers for supported cards in order for titles and content that use the TrueAudio tools to take advantage of dynamically propagated audio. Audio is one of those tricky elements where it requires individual filters based on location/reflection/reflection on different surfaces for each audio sample and often completely different filters on different samples simultaneously (a scream through glass combined with heavy boots on a metal grating from around the corner). In a VR environment these calculations can add up as samples and complexity increase without the proper tools to manage.

Not Just for the New Cards

Other things AMD would like to highlight are that WattMan now offers extended support. It doesn’t just work with the RX 400 series of graphics cards but the Radeon R9 Fury series, R9 390 series, R9 380 series, R9 290 series, R9 285, R9 260 series, R7 360, and R7 260 desktop graphics products. Last but not least a new install experience, and the stability established with Crimson Edition drivers will continue with ReLive, promises AMD.

Other Good Things

Crimson ReLive Edition also includes a new panel for advanced display settings and diagnostics, such as an automatic bad HDMI cable and signal detection fallback (We can all thank Raja for digging in the testers bsd cable box for that one), the new driver has the ability to easily detect and announce the presence of a bad HDMI cable . The updated suite also features VP9 decode acceleration for streaming 4K video at 60Hz, support for Dolby Vision and HDR 10 in PC gaming, Skype performance enhancements for APUs, support for DisplayPort HBR3, and more.

For the Pros

At NAB 2015 (National Association of Broadcasters) ago AMD made some major headway by gaining support for the FirePro workstation card from Avid in Media Composer 8.4 to support broadcast and digital content creation customers using HD and 4K workflows. That leaded to more app support from other vendors in the CAD, Video and pro graphics world.   These people value, well really need, rock solid drivers, even before  new features. Today Drivers now support both the new WX card and along with the older FirePro card.

Today release gives Pro ReLive features (see above), improved Linux support, the Radeon ProRender physically-based rendering engine, and Radeon Loom video stitching as standout driver software features. We hope test features those out soon and give you a report.

AMD is  promising a concrete driver release date schedule for pros, with stability and performance tweaks landing on the forth Thursday of each quarter. That’s in addition to certification across key workstation apps, including the Adobe suite, Avid, Houdini, Maya, and AutoCAD. Plus their test on pro apps will go beyond what the app makers requires. All this work and effect will benefit gamers and consumer users too!

Where to Get the Drivers

Crimson ReLive Edition is AMD’s biggest software release to date. Head over to AMD now to grab the driver suite for Radeon and Radeon Pro cards. The Crimson ReLive Edition 16.12.1 drivers are available to download now. You can check through the release notes here.

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