AMD announced a gaggle of new products and platforms at Computex this week. In addition to discussing its plans for the desktop AM5 platform, it also spent a considerable amount of time discussing its plans for notebooks. In addition to brandishing products for corporate and mainstream users, it also divulged a new platform for mobile gamers: AMD Advantage. This program is a set of features that are required for all notebooks to receive the AMD Advantage branding. They are all designed to maximize gaming performance, and they include a host of new “Smart” technologies.
AMD says its goal with AMD Advantage is to “raise the bar” for what people expect from a gaming notebook. The program includes three must-have features: fast displays with 100Hz+ refresh rates, 100fps gaming performance, and a nebulous “built to game” aspect to it. That last one seems to be a reference to the company’s new Smart technologies, of which there are five. Let’s discuss them one at a time.
This is a new edition to the company’s Smart suite of technologies. AMD is using Microsoft’s DirectStorage API, and calling it SmartAccess Storage. The goal is to provide vastly improved game loading times and texture streaming. Prior to this advancement, the CPU was required to decompress game assets and send them to the GPU. This introduced latency and reduced performance. SmartAccess Storage bypasses the CPU and relegates this task to the SSD and GPU instead. AMD says it uses “Radeon GPU asset decompression” along with its platform technologies. As we wrote previously, this technology requires an NVME SSD as opposed to a SATA drive.
It is not clear yet if AMD’s version has any secret sauce in it, or if this is just a rebranding of Microsoft’s technology. AMD and Nvidia would both need to meet a certain level of base capability to meet the spec, but from time to time one company or the other has offered unique capabilities that might depend on a more advanced point update of DirectX (think DX10.1 versus 10.0). It’ll still probably be a year or two before we see many titles in market that support DirectStorage / SmartAccess Storage, so AMD has plenty of time to detail the specifics of the feature.
This is not a new technology, as AMD offered it on its Zen 3 CPUs and 6000-series GPUs. When an AMD CPU and GPU are paired together, the CPU can access all of the GPU’s memory to improve system performance. Without it, there’s only a 256MB aperture window for data transfer in and out of VRAM. This opens that channel up to allow the full bandwidth of the PCI Express connection to be utilized. Although this launched as an AMD exclusive technology, it was eventually revealed the AMD CPUs and motherboards would also activate the feature when paired with Nvidia and eventually Intel hardware. Intel and Nvidia hardware. In that world it’s known as resizable BAR. AMD even extended its support to older GPUs too, so it appears to be simply a function of the PCI Express standard. AMD does deserve credit for doing the initial work to launch it, however.
This allows the system to dynamically shift power to the CPU and GPU according to their needs. This is in contrast to how power is usually allocated, with both components receiving a static TDP amount. This theoretically allows a mobile environment to enjoy the best of both worlds, with extra power dedicated to the GPU when gaming and less power when it’s not needed. AMD claims it can boost performance up to 14 percent in some games. This was previously called SmartShift, but AMD has added the word “Max” to the title. This enhanced version has been optimized for more games, according to AMD.
This technology lets the GPU send data directly to the display versus routing it through the APU first. AMD claims this affords a 15 percent boost to gaming performance “on average” with “select titles.” Take its benefits with a grain of salt.
This is actually a new version of SmartShift. It differs from the previously mentioned Max version in that it’s designed to offer improved gaming performance when unplugged. AMD claims it offers double the amount of gaming time on battery with certain AMD GPUs. It accomplishes this by automatically switching between discrete graphics and integrated graphics.
AMD also touted several upcoming “Advantage” gaming notebooks from the usual suspects. Alienware, HP, and surprisingly Corsair, which is entering the notebook market for the first time. You can watch AMD’s Computex presentation on YouTube, with the AMD Advantage portion beginning right here.