Over the years AMD and Nvidia have battled on a number of fronts. The hardware angle is obvious, but the software battle has been a bit more behind the scenes. Both companies have worked for years to not only round out their software offerings with new features, but to improve drivers and stability. To put it bluntly, that’s historically been a weak spot for AMD. The company has generally delivered fewer driver updates than Nvidia over the years, and its drivers have been less stable.
AMD wants people to believe it’s turned a corner on that front. In a recent blog post, AMD explains at length the processes it uses to deliver stable drivers. At the same time, it says flat out its drivers are more stable than Nvidia’s. Though it uses the malleable word “competitors in places,” the chart it released directly compares it to Nvidia (see below).
The blog is titled, “Stability, Performance, and Great Experiences with AMD Software: Adrenalin Edition.” AMD describes how the first hurdle it faces in getting drivers validated is Windows Hardware Quality Labs testing, or WHQL. This is a testing suite designed by Microsoft and used by vendors like AMD to validate their software. Once the software in question passes these tests internally, it’s then handed off to Microsoft to issue a passing certificate. Then it becomes WHQL certified software, ready to release to the world.
It can take awhile to get WHQL certification from Microsoft, so AMD releases unsigned drivers as well, classifying them as “Recommended” and “Optional.” According to AMD, these uncertified drivers are not only stable, they are “akin to the production-grade drivers from our competitors.” AMD is basically saying in some cases, the only way it can get launch-day drivers to gamers for popular titles is to release them before getting certification from Microsoft. The company states, “By releasing a non-certified WHQL passing driver, AMD can ensure greater support of new game releases and patches.” Sure, but Nvidia’s drivers are always WHQL certified, and they do have a launch-day program too.
In addition to this bit of info, AMD also details the additional steps it takes beyond WHQL to make sure its software is stable. For example, it says it has 6,000 custom PCs with varying configurations it uses to run automated tests. It claims Nvidia only has 4,500 of these types of systems. That combines with a roster of “sophisticated, non-overlapping stability tools” it uses from a wide variety of sources. That includes Microsoft, PC makers, and software vendors. This battery of testing, according to AMD, has resulted in near-perfect stability for its drivers. It says 99.5 percent of users experience no crashes using its software. The footnote for that says it’s based on an AMD internal analysis, from September 2020 to March 2022. It’s culled from the number of daily crashes per every 10,000 AMD Software: Adrenalin Edition.
Finally, it says it recently rebuilt its DirectX11 driver from the ground up. Doing so allowed it to see gains from 10 to 30 percent on an RX 6600 XT for AAA games like GTA5. It also claims it released more drivers last year than Nvidia. It launched 26 driver updates, while Nvidia languished behind with just 20 updates.