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AMD says seeding of dev kits will boost Ryzen gaming performance

by Mark Tyson on 3 March 2017, 10:00


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Yesterday we saw the launch of the AMD Ryzen 7 range of CPUs. I'm sure that has not escaped many HEXUS reader information radars. Overall we concluded that the new high-end AMD processors offered "massive multi-core performance, [and] aggressive pricing," but single thread performance trailed Intel by a smidgeon, and probably most controversially there were gaming optimisations needed going forward.

SMT seems to be a problem for AMD right now with the disabling of this feature was actually seen to result in better performance in games. Here at HEXUS we tested Total War: Warhammer at Ultra settings QHD, and disabling SMT increased the average frame rate from 79fps to 85.8fps. With Hitman (again Ultra settings at QHD) a similar uplift was observed, with frame rates improved from 91.4fps to 95.6fps.

Other reviewers did quite a few FHD 1080p gaming tests and this again showed AMD performance anomalies. As PC Perspective reports gaming at 1080p on Ryzen "shows a deficit in performance compared to Intel Kaby Lake and Broadwell-E processors," in many AAA games.

Now, regarding this issue, PCPer has received an answer of sorts from John Taylor, CVP of Marketing at AMD. In a nutshell he told PCPer that developers simply aren't used to AMD Ryzen yet, and AMD's seeding of a targeted 1000+ developer systems in 2017 will help address the performance anomaly. In contrast, developers are already leveraging optimisations that uniquely apply to the Intel platform.

For reference and clarity, the full statement by AMD's Taylor is directly below:

As we presented at Ryzen Tech Day, we are supporting 300+ developer kits with game development studios to optimize current and future game releases for the all-new Ryzen CPU. We are on track for 1000+ developer systems in 2017. For example, Bethesda at GDC yesterday announced its strategic relationship with AMD to optimize for Ryzen CPUs, primarily through Vulkan low-level API optimizations, for a new generation of games, DLC and VR experiences.

Oxide Games also provided a public statement today on the significant performance uplift observed when optimizing for the 8-core, 16-thread Ryzen 7 CPU design – optimizations not yet reflected in Ashes of the Singularity benchmarking. Creative Assembly, developers of the Total War series, made a similar statement today related to upcoming Ryzen optimizations.

CPU benchmarking deficits to the competition in certain games at 1080p resolution can be attributed to the development and optimization of the game uniquely to Intel platforms – until now. Even without optimizations in place, Ryzen delivers high, smooth frame rates on all 'CPU-bound' games, as well as overall smooth frame rates and great experiences in GPU-bound gaming and VR. With developers taking advantage of Ryzen architecture and the extra cores and threads, we expect benchmarks to only get better, and enable Ryzen excel at next generation gaming experiences as well.

Game performance will be optimized for Ryzen and continue to improve from at-launch frame rate scores. John Taylor, AMD.

It's hard to know what if any differences might emanate from the dev kit seeding program but the 'years of Intel optimisations' assertion does ring true. Already AMD is confident that two developers are making the right moves to optimise for Ryzen CPUs. Oxide Games and Creative Assembly, developers of Ashes of the Singularity and Total War respectively, are acting to improve threading and performance on Ryzen systems "very soon" says PC Per.

The source article also includes some 'testimonials' from Oxide Games and Creative Assembly about what they are doing to improve Ryzen performance in their games engine / games. Also remember that AMD's new partnership with Bethesda in Vulkan game development will help show AMD CPUs and GPUs in a good light.

HEXUS Forums :: 35 Comments

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To say it's caused by "optimization of the game uniquely to Intel platforms" seems more like sour grapes to me, it's not that games have been optimised uniquely to Intel platforms, that's unless AMD are positing that developers never optimised for any AMD platforms, it's that games have not been optimised for the new Zen architecture, yet.
One theory I have read somewhere is that task schedulers may be shuffling threads from one four-core module to another. Since L3 cache is not shared across the modules (8+8 arrangement) this will cause cache misses and hit performance. I am also sure that memory latency will improve going forwards as motherboard manufacturers get to grips with the IMC.

All told I am not actually too worried. I don't believe it can do so well in 3DMark Firestrike/Timespy and yet be bad for games in general, even if that is a synthetic benchmark. Now that Ryzen is in the open, games programmers will pay more attention in time for the more game-oriented CPU releases.

Still, I have always thought there should be an option in operating systems along the lines of “disable SMT for this program”. Plenty of software loses performance when using SMT - many EPS modelling HPCs/clusters have to disable SMT globally. It would be nice to keep the SMT cores for background tasks.
To say it's caused by "optimization of the game uniquely to Intel platforms" seems more like sour grapes to me, it's not that games have been optimised uniquely to Intel platforms, that's unless AMD are positing that developers never optimised for any AMD platforms, it's that games have not been optimised for the new Zen architecture, yet.

It's actually sounds like a really plausible scenario. First Ryzen is a whole new architecture so its unlikely any game could be optimized for it. Secondly, if you see the reviews the benches show that the single core performance is just there where AMD said it will be, on par with Broadwell, and the multi core performance is even better given the SMT is better scaling than intels HT. So the grunt is there in the CPU, it won't disappear by starting a game instead of a benchmark. It needs optimization. I expect alot of patches in the next 1-2 months and a lot of performance from those in games.
Can't help feeling compiler optimisations might also come into play. Intel spend a lot on compiler tech and integrating patches etc into the main line compilers, and that must surely give an advantage. With Zen so new, perhaps the toolchains simply haven't been updated as aggressively for AMD's architecture?
It's actually sounds like a really plausible scenario….

I'm not saying it's not but they way AMD seem to be couching it is that developers have optimised for Intel platforms while ignoring AMD when that seems implausible at best, like i said it's not that developers have only ever optimised for Intel platforms while ignoring AMD, it's that they've not had time to optimise for the new Zen architecture.

It seems like the sort of answer you'd expect from a PR representative whose more concerned about protecting the brand than letting people know they recognise the problem and are working to fix it.