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AMD and NVIDIA in Batman Arkham Asylum AA fiasco - who's telling the truth?

by HEXUS Staff on 3 November 2009, 19:56

Tags: Eidos (TYO:9684), AMD (NYSE:AMD), ATi Technologies (NYSE:AMD), NVIDIA (NASDAQ:NVDA)

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AMD and NVIDIA lock horns again

eee Regular HEXUS visitors are no doubt aware that AMD and NVIDIA are currently locking horns over graphics supremacy right here in our HEXUS.community forums, and things are starting to get interesting.

Speaking on behalf of the GPU giants, AMD's senior manager of developer relations, Richard Huddy, and NVIDIA's senior technical marketing manager of EMEA, Lars Weinand, are at it again...

This time around, AMD is once again accusing NVIDIA of preventing the use of anti-aliasing in Eidos' Batman: Arkham Asylum on an ATI graphics card, a subject first raised, to widespread furore, back in September, by AMD's senior manager of advanced marketing, Ian McNaughton.

NVIDIA claims "AMD just did not do their work", adding that "it is up to Eidos to decide the fate of a feature that AMD refused to contribute to". Want to know what AMD's Huddy had to say in response? Check out the comments from both NVIDIA (in green) and AMD (in red), below.

The following comment was published by NVIDIA's Lars Weinand in the HEXUS.community forums on Tuesday November 3rd at 5:35am.

Hi Richard,

you're trying to tell the world that NVIDIA would neglect gamers. As mentioned before, no, we do not. 3D Vision and PhysX are key technologies - focused on gaming. We'll also fully support any GPU related standard out there. We love anything that brings GPU forward. Plus we'll innovate with our own technologies where important.

Let me respond to your points in detail.

(1) The positive mention of DX11 is a rarity in recent communications from NVIDIA - except perhaps in their messaging that 'DirectX 11 doesn't matter'. For example I don't remember Jensen or others mentioning tessellation (they biggest of the new hardware features) from the stage at GTC. In fact if reports are to be trusted only one game was shown on stage during the whole conference - hardly what I would call treating gaming as a priority!

I highly recommend to anyone interested in GPUs to watch the Keynotes and sessions from GTC. It was a developer event focusing on GPU computing. It was not an event on gaming, thus some sessions at GTC were about gaming aspects of GPU computing. Fermi is an awesome graphics processor and we’re confident that it will let us keep the performance crown. We will talk about this side of Fermi very soon. Fermi is an entirely new architecture with many new features specifically for the compute space, so it was important to us that we talk about them first. Especially at a conference with a focus on GPU computing. We are on record saying we support DirectX 11. If you look at the Agenda, you’ll also find a DX11 workshop was held at GTC btw, since DX11 also involves GPU computing.

(2) The tech of PhysX has still yet to gain any significant traction. I note from the most recent NPD sales figures that "Batman AA" figures at 96th place in the PC charts and yet that seems to be NVIDIA's ' showcase' for PhysX. I suspect gaming physics will be better adopted when as an industry we move away from the divisive proprietary standards that Lars advocates so heavily. [I note that you mentioned CUDA no fewer than five times - more than any other technology that you chose to mention!]

Regarding your comment of "little traction", PhysX sure has managed to get the attention of AMD and their customers. Physics in games stagnated when it fell to the CPU vendors like AMD, and has seen a resurgent when GPU vendors got involved. As long as in game physics takes a step forward, we are happy, regardless of the path the developers chooses to get there. We support open standards, plus standards that allow NVIDIA to offer new innovations to customers well in advance of industry standards, such as CUDA C. Our goal is to lead the industry in new amazing directions and create value for our customers, which is exactly what PhysX has done. We believe that innovation is good. If innovation comes through DirectX, OpenCL, CUDA C, Bullet or PhysX, it does not matter to NVIDIA. PhysX is not competing with other standards.

Batman AA received superb reviews as you can see on Metacritics. Game reviewers and gamers agree that PhysX effects adds a lot of fun to the game. PhysX comes as a free feature for GeForce users - from GeForce 8 onwards. It does not cost a penny extra and you can turn it off if you do not like it for whatever reason. What is not to like about that? Besides, you should not cast a vote on PhysX based on one title, anymore than you should cast a vote for Dx 11 based on AMD showcase titles.

I don't quite understand that proprietary argument. AMD was working with the Physics engine Havok, which would be a "proprietary" engine by that definition as well - since it is owned by Intel. What's the status there btw? Is GPU support for AMD GPUs coming in Havok in the near future? Or was it maybe only a single hardcoded demo without the involvement of Havok? Last but not least CAL also was proprietary as a language by that definition.

Sometimes it is nescessary to innovate and invent things that do not yet exist. New technologies are always "proprietary" by nature. It seems to me, proprietary for AMD equals “Unfair, I don’t have it”.

(3) There's every reason to believe that NVIDIA is moving its focus away from gaming. I'll list just a few:

Not making it a priority at GTC is the obvious one.

As mentioned, GTC was a GPU computing conference - fully booked out and a great success. More misinformation. Does AMD announcing a new Opteron architecture at IDF (At an Intel conference in a hotel) make you believe AMD would no longer do consumer CPUs? Or more, does AMD talking about CPUs mean they neglect GPUs? Does AMD even do developer conferences?

Arguing against the relevance of DX11 is another.

More misinformation and taken out of context. DX11 is a very great thing and we are 100% behind it. Anything that makes the PC gaming experience better is a great thing. This is also why we focus on adding things like PhysX and 3D Vision to PC games. We have already stated that our next generation Fermi-based GeForce GPU will support DirectX 11, along with PhysX and 3D Vision.

Arguing, as NVIDIA did, that AMD working with Codemasters to add DX11 to DiRT2 is harming gamers is another.

Sorry, but that is just spreading misinformation. DX11 is a very great thing and we are 100% behind it.

NVIDIA's behaviour in locking something as trivial as antialiasing to its own hardware (in Batman Arkham Asylum) shows that NVIDIA cares much more about money then gamers.

Batman AA is not our property. It is owned by Eidos. It is up to Eidos to decide the fate of a feature that AMD refused to contribute too and QA for their customers, not NVIDIA.

If it is relatively trivial, Mr. Huddy should have done it himself. The Unreal engine does not support in game AA, so we added it and QAed it for our customers. As Eidos confirmed (Not allowed to post links here, but check PCper for Eidos' statement) AMD refused the same opportunity to support gamers with AA on AMD GPUs. I'm sure Mr. Huddy knows how important QA is for game developers. I recommend AMD starts working with developers to make their HW work in a proper way. That's not our job. We added functionality for NVIDIA GPUs into the game. We did not lock anything out. AMD just did not do their work. This happened with previous UE3 engine titles before, where ATI owners had to rename the executable to make AA work on that title (Bioshock in example). It’s not NVIDIA to blame here.

AMD is already working with games developers on over 20 forthcoming games which feature DX11 tech. NVIDIA has been nowhere to be seen! And we're doing that while offering the world's best support for DirectX 9, 10 and 10.1 games too!

NVIDIA is actively engaged with every major developer in the world plus we're also working with many smaller innovative game studios. We support game developers wherever we can, to ensure the best gaming experience on GeForce. When DirectX 11 titles hit, Fermi-based GPUs will be here, too.

NVIDIA is late to deliver DirectX 11 hardware to market.

I agree with Mr. Huddy on this one. We launch later than AMD does in this case. Fermi is the world’s first computational GPU architecture, with several world’s firsts on the GPU. These take time to design and perfect. Do I wish we had Fermi today… Yes. Is Fermi worth the wait. Absolutely!

If you don't agree with my fourth bullet point above then I'd guess you'd probably argue that AMD should lock DX11 functionality to its own hardware, yes? Something we haven't done!

With your comment regarding locking DX11, do you try to indicate that AMD invented DX11 and could have been an AMD-only feature?? DirectX 11 is a new version of DirectX, that will be fully supported by Fermi, as we announced at GTC. It seems that AMD tries to create the perception that DX11 is a AMD only feature. It is not.

Long story short and no argument coming from AMD will change this: NVIDIA loves games. We play games ourselves and it always was and will be a key area for NVIDIA.

Lars Weinand, NVIDIA

 

The following comment was published by AMD's Richard Huddy in the HEXUS.community forums on Tuesday November 3rd at 4:55pm.

Lars,

Many of the points you've come back with have been well dealt with by other people here, but there is one snippet that deserves a swift response from me.

Batman AA is not our property. It is owned by Eidos. It is up to Eidos to decide the fate of a feature that AMD refused to contribute too and QA for their customers, not NVIDIA.

If it is relatively trivial, Mr. Huddy should have done it himself. The Unreal engine does not support in game AA, so we added it and QAed it for our customers. As Eidos confirmed (Not allowed to post links here, but check PCper for Eidos' statement) AMD refused the same opportunity to support gamers with AA on AMD GPUs. I'm sure Mr. Huddy knows how important QA is for game developers. I recommend AMD starts working with developers to make their HW work in a proper way. That's not our job. We added functionality for NVIDIA GPUs into the game. We did not lock anything out. AMD just did not do their work. This happened with previous UE3 engine titles before, where ATI owners had to rename the executable to make AA work on that title (Bioshock in example). It’s not NVIDIA to blame here.

...

Lars Weinand, NVIDIA

I’m surprised and pleased by authorised NVIDIA spokesperson Lars Weinand’s clarification that “Batman AA is not our property. It is owned by Eidos. It is up to Eidos to decide the fate of a feature that AMD refused to contribute too and QA for their customers, not NVIDIA.”

AMD received an email dated Sept 29th at 5:22pm from Mr. Lee Singleton General Manager at Eidos Game Studios who stated that Eidos’ legal department is preventing Eidos from allowing ATI cards to run in-game antialiasing in Batman Arkham Asylum due to NVIDIA IP ownership issues over the antialiasing code, and that they are not permitted to remove the vendor ID filter.

NVIDIA has done the right thing in bowing to public pressure to renounce anti-competitive sponsorship practices and given Eidos a clear mandate to remove the vendor ID detect code that is unfairly preventing many of Eidos’ customers from using in-game AA, as per Mr. Weinand’s comments. I would encourage Mr. Singleton at Eidos to move quickly and decisively to remove NVIDIA’s vendor ID detection.

It’s also worth noting here that AMD have made efforts both pre-release and post-release to allow Eidos to enable the in-game antialiasing code - there was no refusal on AMD’s part to enable in game AA IP in a timely manner.

I trust that you will also confirm that no similar activity will take place on any other games?

Richard Huddy, Worldwide Developer Relations Manager, AMD's GPU Division