AMD has fired shots at Nvidia on the topic of the quality of their respective graphics drivers, in what appears to be a response to a similar barrage of criticism dropped by Team Green earlier in the year (we’ll come back to that).
As ExtremeTech (opens in new tab) noticed, this comes from a recent AMD blog post (opens in new tab) (from last month, which went unnoticed) in ‘Stability, Performance, and Great Experiences with AMD Software: Adrenalin Edition’, with Adrenalin being the Team Red driver for your Radeon GPUs, as you no doubt know.
The post was written by Isaak Wong, Senior Product Marketing Specialist at AMD, and points out that throughout 2021, AMD has released 26 sets of graphics drivers that have passed Microsoft’s WHQL (Windows Hardware Quality Labs) testing process, compared to 20 driver versions. from Nvidia.
In addition to ensuring WHQL validation, Wong notes that: “For even more rigorous testing, AMD teams run automated tests on 6,000 unique system configurations in combination with production-grade features.” Which compares to Nvidia’s 4,500 configs, we’re told (actually, this is based on previous information released by Team Green; again, more on that later).
The end result is “excellent stability for our drivers – with 99.95% of users experiencing no crashes when the AMD software is installed”. This percentage is taken from an internal analysis of daily failures that occur every 10,000 AMD Adrenalin driver installations over a very long period of time (September 2020 to March 2022).
This is where it gets really interesting, as Wong goes on to explain that AMD has ‘recommended’ and ‘optional’ drivers, the former being the full release versions and the latter bringing temporary support for new games (and GPUs) that are released in between. recommended driver versions.
Wong notes that “both drivers go through the same grueling validation, including WHQL readiness,” but the difference with full release candidates is that they receive WHQL certification – optional drivers may have passed these tests, AMD assures, but not yet certified. Of course, the recommended drivers also went through AMD’s extensive internal quality control processes, which is not the case with the options.
Now comes the fatal blow, as Wong writes: “AMD’s optional drivers are more like our competitors’ production-level drivers. However, AMD-recommended drivers represent tried-and-true software that has often had months of immersion in the public domain.”
When Wong says ‘competitors’, that’s clearly Nvidia – as Intel hasn’t yet set foot in the desktop GPU arena; we’re not counting on the launch of a low-end Arc graphics card in China. So this is essentially a not-so-fine jab that Nvidia’s finished drivers are more like AMD’s optional (semi-passed) releases.
Wong further points out that AMD has been pushing hard on the performance front, with an “average 15% increase in performance across multiple titles” last year (PC games that make up that average include Cyberpunk 2077, Far Cry 6, Hitman 3, Red Dead Redemption 2, Resident Evil Village and many more). And the marketing guru even reminds us that AMD has rebuilt its DX11 driver from the ground up to usher in up to 10% framerate boosts with RX 6000 GPUs.
Analysis: Shooting back Nvidia and addressing audience perception?
As we mentioned at the beginning, this seems much much like a shot at Nvidia, after Team Green claimed in April that it didn’t “release below-average beta drivers with minimal testing”, which, while not directly naming AMD, made it pretty obvious that this was a targeted scam. Team Red for releasing optional drivers without official WHQL certification.
This Nvidia PR outburst talked about the WHQL test and mentioned the number of PC configurations used for testing by Nvidia (the 4,500 number AMD cites in their blog post if you were wondering where the heck Team Red is. got that info), so this is clear enough an AMD answer, even if AMD doesn’t mention Nvidia by name – well, not as such in the post text, although Nvidia is mentioned in the slide providing comparative numbers – as is Nvidia didn’t call out AMD specifically in April.
We suppose it’s fair that AMD (indirectly) responds to Nvidia’s (indirect) criticism. The problem for AMD, perhaps, is the perception of the gaming public, where traditionally, Team Red drivers are seen as less reliable than those produced by Nvidia – and perhaps AMD felt it was necessary to give an answer. .
In explaining and making it clear how things stand now with AMD’s graphics driver testing and validation processes, and releasing these comparative numbers, Team Red seems to want to make it clear enough that any dark days of driver unreliability – if AMD recognized that they existed – they are firmly in the past.
All that being said, there’s clearly a lot more to driver development than the headline numbers being touted here, and comparing driver testing processes will be a ridiculously complicated endeavor if the idea is to delve into some superficial details.
In any case, what will be interesting to see is whether there are more shots fired in the big driver debate between AMD and Nvidia (and when in fact Intel might enter the fray).