The main advantages that Nvidia graphics cards have over AMD are basically some of the industry’s latest graphics effects. One of the most notable examples is variable rate shading. This was previously exclusively owned by Nvidia.
In a report on PCGamesN, AMD appears to be moving in this direction with a patent application to adopt this technology on its next Navi graphics cards.
What does variable rate shading do?
As we can see, regions that are in the player’s field of vision, such as the road in front of the player or the car itself, elements with enough detail are reproduced in maximum quality, while those outside the fovea are gradually processed with lower quality, which increases the speed of the game.
The Variable Rate Shading (or VRS) essentially allows a graphics card to intelligently select a scene and display only certain objects based on the camera angle. This saves resources instead of rendering the entire scene shaders in each frame. The advantage is that if VRS decides that certain rendered images are OK, it can be faster by concentrating GPU resources only where they are needed.
This technology was conceived and developed for Virtual Reality because the high number of pixels at a very short focal length would prevent the display of many pixels before the image is sent to the Virtual Reality glasses.
Outside Virtual Reality, the improvement is clear, although it is based on the same principle and concept: being able to “shadow” different parts of a scene by varying the speed of the shadows within the same frame.
This is useful for high-speed scenes where the most visible and predictable middle part of the screen could be shadowed at a higher speed than the peripheral parts to achieve higher performance at almost zero cost.
Microsoft integrates with the DirectX12 API using Nvidia and probably also AMD Variable Rate Shading. The Xbox GPU architect, Martin Fuller, will be present at GDC 2019, where he will give a deeper insight into the new feature that “saves a lot of time when using modern GPUs”.
VRS in conjunction with DLSS technology can enable significant resource savings in the playback of 3D scenes from upcoming games in the coming years, so it is important that AMD can also offer this type of technology in its graphics, which are not specific to Nvidia.
If AMD includes VRS in its console SOCs and Microsoft finally launches it on time under its XBOX and Windows, both with DX12, Sony’s option could lose momentum compared to Redmond’s, where the Japanese ecosystem doesn’t seem as complete as that of the North Americans, at least initially.