AMD last night unveiled its Fusion for Gaming
utility during a live webcast. Brent Barry, AMD's gaming strategist, said that it's is designed to make gaming on AMD-based systems a better experience with the click of a button.
In fact, he went so far as to say that it "fixes the problems
" with PC gaming by shutting down "anything that might cause your PC to become unstable or insecure
." That's a pretty big claim to make.
I'm sure many of you have been through the days of rigorously optimising your Windows installation to free up memory and CPU cycles to improve your frame rate in a game that doesn't quite run as smoothly as you'd want on your system. At the same time, you've probably encountered problems when you've shut down processes that were, in actual fact, needed by your OS.
Barry said that AMD's Fusion for Gaming utility achieves the same in a much smarter way, as it lets users turn off unneeded processes and background tasks with the click of a big and rather garish looking button - indeed, my initial impression was bloatware. That was made even more apparent when you click the button, as your ears will be infected with a whooshing sound as it speeds up your system.
However, looking deeper into the application revealed that it wasn't quite as bloated as those initial impressions would have you believe. There are several modes available, depending on how confident or skilled you think are.
Basic mode is a fairly low-level and tame optimisation that shuts down background processes and increases the CPU performance using AMD Boost, which shuts down some of the things that happen inside the OS that you don't want to disturb your game. Barry cited examples like Cool'n'Quiet and power state switching. With the basic mode, Barry said that these optimisations alone would increase gaming performance from anywhere between two and five percent depending on the PC's specifications. Obviously, with higher end machines, you'll see less of a benefit.
There's also advanced mode, which does the same as basic mode but in addition, it's more aggressive in what it shuts down and will close applications like your web browser, email client and so on. Barry did say that if a save prompt window appeared, the application wouldn't be forced to close, so there's no chance of you losing your Word documents when you decide to run off for a quick game of TF2
when the boss isn't looking. What's more, it also overclocks the CPU, GPU and hard drive in your system; it wasn't clear how AMD is overclocking the hard drive - AMD mentioned it was applying some tweaks to the southbridge, but didn't go into any detail.
Finally, AMD has implemented an expert mode to keep those that want to tweak things further when making your PC go whooooosh
with excitement. Here, you can adjust how far your CPU and GPU are overclocked, and also what programs are stopped. For example, if you wanted to leave a voice communication application like Skype or TeamSpeak open, you can tell the utility to ignore it when it's going about its business. In this mode, AMD reckons that you'll see around ten percent more performance in games - whoosh!
There is a snag though - AMD said that the software will only
work on AMD-based systems and made it clear that this not only required an AMD CPU, but also an AMD GPU and motherboard chipset. The application won't work on Intel-based systems with an AMD GPU installed for example, which rather limits its appeal for many enthusiasts seeing as they are the preferred choice at the moment. What's more the application is only officially supported on Windows Vista 32-bit at the moment - Barry did say that it would run on Windows XP as well, but it is not supported by AMD at this time.
When asked about 64-bit compatibility, Barry said that the company has developed the application "to work on Windows Vista 64-bit
," but it is still going through the validation process with overclocking CPUs and GPUs in particular. He said that the application is probably a month or two away for 64-bit users.
The application is part of a corporate branding strategy
that is "AMD’s way to express how we blend our customers’ needs, dreams and desires with our unique passion for enabling innovation,
” says Nigel Dessau, AMD senior vice president and chief marketing officer. In other words, it's AMD's way of demonstrating why buying an AMD CPU, GPU and chipset and running them in the same system is better than the sum of all parts. So, Spider didn't last long then? Whoosh!
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