AMD is being very forward thinking with the new features in their ReLive driver update. Streaming and recording gameplay, or the screen for any number of programs, isn’t resource intensive to begin with though having it be even more efficient is fantastic. And it’s the future, they say. On a more practical level we’re seeing performance improvements and something called Radeon Chill, which should help reduce power consumption, temperature and maybe even make games seem a bit more responsive to boot.

Radeon Chill

Radeon Chill could chill your heating heart

Radeon Chill is a magnificent idea that is part of a something that AMD bought just this past year. At first it was a simple power limiter, but it’s evolved under the guidance of the software engineers at AMD have turned it into something far more advanced. It doesn’t just limit the amount of power that the GPU can draw, or limit the clockspeed. Instead they’re synchronizing the frames being rendered with the CPU so that each frame is rendered precisely when it’s needed as opposed to attempting to stack up frames in a queue. On a theoretical level this means that frames can potentially be sent to the screen much more quickly, reducing the lag. What we’d like to do is explore precisely what effect this new feature has on both framerate, which is said to not be effected in any large way, and in frame lag.

Unfortunately there are only a handful of games that are actually supported at the moment. And none of them using next-generation APIs.

Radeon Chill

We’ll be using AMD’s newly minted, open source utility for measuring the performance of GPUs. It’s very similar to PresentMON, our current tool of choice, though has a nifty GUI frontend that’s makes it fairly easy to use. You can glean quite a bit of information from this, so we’re going to see just what effect Chill has on your gaming, If any.

Since Radeon Chill works by synchronizing the creation of frames, the CPU and GPU pumping out their frames as they come and reducing idle time as opposed to creating a queue as resources become available and allow for rendering as far in advance as possible, we’ll try to introduce random movements to see the difference between it turned off, and then on. This is probably best suited to an FPS or similar fast moving game, so we’ve opted to use Rise of the Tomb Raider as our test bed of choice. In it, we’ll run through three different scenarios to see how Chill handles the various types of movement and what impact that has on framerate, frame time and of course power consumption. We’ll be running, spinning quickly and simply standing still.