AMD is using 6000 unique systems configurations for graphics driver testing, 1500 more than NVIDIA
AMD has just retweeted a blog post from June, which shares some insight into graphics driver releases. Since many of us had missed it, it is worth looking at some interesting information that was provided.
AMD claims to be using as many as 6000 unique system configurations for their rigorous internal testing, this ensures that 99.95% of users do not encounter crashes when using AMD software. In 2021, AMD releases 26 WHQL drivers, which is more than NVIDIA (20). One should note here, however, that AMD WHQL releases are usually available much later than BETA drivers. On the other hand, NVIDIA tends to release WHQL drivers immediately.
Until now, AMD has never really explained why the non-WHQL drivers often listed as ‘optional’ or ‘recommended’ are pushed to release sooner than WHQL ones. The following quote explains exactly why this happens and what does this mean to gamers.
AMD Optional drivers are more akin to the production-grade drivers from our competitors. However, AMD Recommended drivers represent tried-and-tested software that often has had months of soak time in the public domain. While every AMD Software release passes Microsoft’s WHQL test suite, it is sometimes advantageous for gamers to use non-WHQL certified drivers. By releasing a non-certified WHQL passing driver, AMD can ensure greater support of new game releases and patches.
In other words, AMD considers their non-WHQL drivers are already as good as production drivers from competitors. By releasing those early drivers sooner, gamers can take advantage of the optimizations for their games before WHQL driver completes its Microsoft test suite testing.
AMD advantage over competitors is one unified driver for desktop, mobile and integrated graphics solutions. NVIDIA has two main branches for their notebook and desktop gaming series, whereas Intel now has dedicated drivers for ARC and iGPUs. However, there are cases where NVIDIA releases one driver, such as the today’s Hotfix driver.
AMD rebuilt their DirectX11 driver from the ground up, now delivering 10% better performance on average
The company is focusing its efforts on optimizing not just for the latest titles, but also games based on older APIs. The DirectX11 games, for instance, received a 10% uplift on average (based on a comparison between 22.5.2 May and 22.3.1 March drivers). This optimization came almost at the same time as the recent OpenGL & Vulkan update that brought similar gains to certain games.
- Assassin’s Creed Odyssey – up to 28%
- World of Warcraft: Shadowlands – up to 30%
- Grand Theft Auto V – up to 11%.
Just yesterday we had Intel’s Tom Petersen explaining the exact same optimization process (or struggle) for Arc Graphics. The company has now a list of games that need to be optimized for Arc GPUs before looking at older titles. For Intel, the primary goal is to optimize for games using the newest APIs, games that are popular on Steam and games that reviewers tend to use. Only then Intel can focus on optimizing for less popular titles.
Thanks to @Bolle20457856 for the tip!