AMD recreates G-Sync, Nvidia plays it down

Written by Edward Chester

January 8, 2014 // 11:23 p.m.

Tags: #amd #free-sync #g-sync #nvidia

AMD has demonstrated its own solution to Nvidia's G-Sync technology, showing the same dynamic framerate effect as G-Sync on an existing AMD laptop.

Showed to TechReport, the technology apparently had the same effect of reducing the stuttering associated with normal V-sync, while also eliminating the image tearing that occurs when v-sync isn't used.

The demonstration was able to happen because laptops use a different video connection than desktop monitors, a connection that already supports variable refresh rates. Coupled with AMD also having support - for the last three generations of its graphics cards - for variable frame rate delivery it was simply a matter of re-engineering the driver to simulate G-Sync.

The variable refresh rate technology AMD uses was originally seen as a power saving measure, as unnecessary vertical refreshes drain power. All AMD had to do was flip the idea on its head to create what it has dubbed "free-sync". It literally uses exactly the same vblank manipulation technique as G-Sync.

AMD went on to say that the implementation of "free-sync" into desktop monitors should be relatively trivial, with a firmware update possibly even doing the job. The challenge would be in communicating to the graphics card the maximum vblank of the display, as going beyond the rated vblank could result in poor colour fidelity.

The AMD spokesperson also initially questioned why Nvidia had even chosen to use a hardware solution for G-Sync but later suggested it was perhaps because the display controller in Nvidia's GPUs simply can't support variable refresh rates.

Furthermore the spokesperson believed that many of the problems solved by G-Sync could simply be resolved with triple-buffering, pointing out that there used to be an option in AMD's drivers to force this on and that it could easily add this back in.

Nvidia has, however, hit back at AMD's attempt to trump G-Sync, with Director of Technical Marketing Tom Petersen pointing out the obvious inability of AMD's solution to work on desktop monitors.

He also went on to explain why Nvidia chose to create a hardware solution: because no scaler ASIC with variable refresh existed. The company set about building the solution to show the industry the way forward.

What has also been made clear in these discussions is that the G-Sync module that's placed in the monitor could theoretically work with any graphics card. But, having put the effort in Nvidia is holding out for the time being on letting other companies in on the fun.

Something tells us G-Sync won't be alone in the market for long...

A reminder of what G-Sync is all about:

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