The following article is the English original of the interview by SweClockers with Robert Hallock, Technical Communications Officer at AMD. The upcoming AMD FreeSync technology will challenge Nvidia G-Sync with an open standard for dynamic refresh rates. A key part of this is VESA DisplayPort Adaptive-Sync, which was recently added to the DisplayPort standard.
Is it correct to say that FreeSync is a direct answer to Nvidia G-Sync?
– The engineering timeline of the Radeon R9 and R7 Series, which feature Project FreeSync-compatible display controllers, establishes that FreeSync predates G-Sync by a healthy margin. Both technologies aim to deliver similar user benefits, but Project FreeSync will accomplish its goals with open industry standards that don’t require any licensing fees or contracts from participating parties. History has more or less proven that this strategy enables technologies to proliferate faster and cost less, and we think that’s the right way for everyone.
Could you please explain the difference between AMD FreeSync and VESA Adaptive-Sync?
– VESA DisplayPort Adaptive-Sync is a new component of the DisplayPort 1.2a specification that allows a graphics card to control the refresh rate of a display over a DisplayPort link. As it seems there is some confusion, I want to emphasize that DisplayPort Adaptive-Sync is not FreeSync. By itself, DisplayPort Adaptive-Sync is a building block that provides a standard framework a source device, e.g. a graphics card, can depend on to execute dynamic refresh rates.
DisplayPort Adaptive-Sync is an important development in our industry, however, because there now exists an industry-standard framework that dynamic refresh rate technologies, like Project FreeSync, can rely on to deliver end-user benefits: no tearing, minimal input latency, smooth framerates, etc. Make no mistake, providing dynamic refresh rates to users still takes a lot of ‘secret sauce’ from the hardware and software ends of our products, including the correct display controllers in the hardware and the right algorithms in AMD Catalyst.
What is the basic functionality of FreeSync. What does it do and what are the advantages?
– The basic benefit of Project FreeSync is the dynamic refresh rate (‘DRR’), which allows the graphics card to synchronize the refresh rate of a monitor 1:1 with the framerate of an AMD Radeon GPU. With DRR, gamers can disable v-sync and experience the full range of framerates produced by a graphics card without clamping to some divisor of the monitor’s refresh rate. Disabling vsync in favor of Project FreeSync will eliminate large jumps in framerate, resulting in noticeably smoother gameplay.
Because Project FreeSync obviates the need for v-sync, gamers especially sensitive to input latency — a delay between mouse movement and cursor movement — will also see a distinct increase in responsiveness.
Finally, disabling v-sync would typically introduce nasty horizontal tearing, but Project FreeSync also eliminates tearing as a rule. Project FreeSync is a "best of all worlds" solution from the perspective of smoothness, image quality and responsiveness.
We are told you are using triple buffering. There are some obvious drawbacks to this.
– I think this is a misunderstanding derived previous comments that AMD Catalyst can force-enable triple buffering in the driver’s control panel. Let me set the record straight: Project FreeSync does not require extensive buffering, because the need for such techniques is virtually eliminated when you can match the display timings to the framerate of the GPU on the fly. Within the range of refresh rates supported by a compatible display, Project FreeSync will allow the absolute minimum input lag with single- or double-buffered rendering.
In comparison to Nvidia G-Sync; what are the advantages and disadvantages to FreeSync?
– There are three key advantages Project FreeSync holds over G-Sync: no licensing fees for adoption, no expensive or proprietary hardware modules, and no communication overhead. The last point is particularly important from a performance perspective, as Project FreeSync does not need to poll or wait on the display in order to determine when it’s safe to send the next frame to the monitor. Project FreeSync uses DisplayPort Adaptive-Sync protocols to pre-negotiate supported min/max refresh rates during plug’n’play, which means frame presentation to the user will never be delayed or impaired by time-consuming two-way handshakes.
How about compatibility?
– Project FreeSync will utilize DisplayPort Adaptive-Sync protocols to enable dynamic refresh rates for video playback, gaming and power-saving scenarios. All AMD Radeon graphics cards in the AMD Radeon HD 7000, HD 8000, R7 or R9 Series will support Project FreeSync for video playback and power-saving purposes. The AMD Radeon R9 295X2, 290X, R9 290, R7 260X and R7 260 additionally feature updated display controllers that will support dynamic refresh rates during gaming.
AMD APUs codenamed Kaveri, Kabini, Temash, Beema and Mullins also feature the necessary hardware capabilities to enable dynamic refresh rates for video playback, gaming and power-saving purposes. All products must be connected to a display that supports DisplayPort Adaptive-Sync.
As far as games go, we know that some titles may for whatever reason not cooperate with dynamic refresh rates, so we’ll allow users to toggle Project FreeSync in the driver. Operating system support will initially be brought to Windows 7 and Windows 8.1.
Are there any display vendors committed to FreeSync?
– There are several industry partners working on Project FreeSync, but it would not be right for me to announce a partner’s plans on their behalf. Rest assured, when the time is right we will tell the world!
When can we expect to be able to try FreeSync for ourselves and when will the technology be available for end-users?
– We expect Project FreeSync-ready monitors to be available in retail within 6-12 months, and prototypical monitors suitable for tradeshows or press demonstrations to be ready within 4-10 months.
Thank you for your time and we wish you best of luck with Project FreeSync!
– Thank you!