AMD's FidelityFX Super Resolution should release this year, but Team Red has not yet decided what non-AI technique to employ
Many gamers seem to care a great deal about Nvidia’s DLSS and immediately point out that this technology is the main advantage of the RTX 3000 cards over AMD’s RX 6000 cards, since the two GPU families are otherwise mostly equivalent. Back in Q4 2020, when the RDNA2-based Radeon RX 6800 cards were launched in Q4 2020, AMD promised it would deliver something similar to Nvidia’s DLSS through the FidelityFX Super Resolution, but release details were very sketchy. We were hoping to hear more about the Super Resolution tech with the RX 6700 XT announcement, yet that did not happen either. DLSS is already getting a significant adoption boost through the UE4 plugin, so what is AMD’s plan? During a recent PCWorld podcast, AMD’s Scott Herkelman finally broke silence and stated that the Super Resolution feature should be launched this year, and also provided a few more technical details.
The RX 6800 announcement from 2020 noted that the broad plan is to make the Super Resolution tech available for all gaming platforms, and Herkelman is reiterating this goal now: “It’s progressing very well internally in our lab, but it’s our commitment to the gaming community that it needs to be open, it needs to work across all things and game developers need to adopt it.” Unfortunately, Herkelman cannot give a more exact launch window, since the team is committed to offering a high quality implementation: “Even though it’s progressing well, we still have more work to do[...] We want to launch it this year. We believe we can do that this year, but at the same time we have a lot more work ahead of us. We need to make sure the image quality is there. We need to make sure it can scale from different resolutions, and [...] our game developers are happy with what we are producing.”
Herkelman points out that the official abbreviation of the FidelityFX Super Resolution should be FSR, just in case you were wondering about this aspect. Furthermore, Herkelman explains that FSR will not exactly be Nvidia’s DLSS equivalent based on machine learning algorithms since the RDNA2 GPUs do not integrate cores specifically designed to accelerate AI like the Nvidia Tensor cores: “You don’t need machine learning to do it, you can do this many different ways and we are evaluating many different ways. What matters the most to us is what game developers want to use because if at the end of the day it is just for us, we force people to do it, it is not a good outcome. We would rather say: gaming community, which one of these techniques would you rather see us implement so that this way it can be immediately spread across the industry and hopefully cross-platform.”
If we are reading this last statement correctly, it looks like AMD is still debating on which approach would work best so that most of the game developers find it easy enough to implement. But that means AMD has to be testing multiple techniques already and needs to present each implementation to select game developers. This could take quite some time, and we think AMD will not be able to release FSR across all platforms at the same time. Most likely AMD could release the PC implementation some time in the second half of 2021 and consoles might get it next year.