One of the weakest points of AMD’s hardware and software is Ray Tracing. Like with AI, they arrived late and are struggling to compete against their main rival, where Intel is also pushing hard from below. However, with the new AMD Fluid Motion Frames 23.40.01.10 driver preview, new performance data has emerged, showing a truly impressive leap of up to +35% improvement in Ray Tracing.
We reviewed the driver after seeing the performance data, trying to understand what lies behind it, and found nothing. That is, no specific mention of Ray Tracing, any improvement, new implementation, changes, or reference, especially in regards to Alan Wake 2. But with the game being demanding on hardware and raising the bar in Ray Tracing, can AMD really catch up to their competitors in this area?
AMD makes a spectacular leap in Ray Tracing performance, and Alan Wake 2 shows the result
It’s unclear if recent game patches also contribute, but it’s evident that the driver has massively improved. The comparison focuses on December 2023 drivers versus January 2024 preview drivers with Adrenalin Edition 23.40.01.10 and Fluid Motion Frames, a technology that isn’t being utilized in what we’ll see.
As we can see, four resolutions are used, the typical 1080p, 2K, and 4K, as well as UWQHD at 1440p, which lies between 2K and 4K and is quite demanding. Four graphics cards were tested: RX 7900 XTX, RX 7900 XT, RX 7900 GRE, and RX 7800 XT, showing evident scalability that will demonstrate how the driver holds up as hardware features scale.
The data is somewhat extensive, but performance increases can be seen from 35% at 1080p for the RX 7900 XTX to +11% for the RX 7800 XT at 4K. However, some general trends are evident, which are interesting for the RDNA 3 architecture and this driver.
Closer to NVIDIA, will the advantage of Ray Tracing for the competitors eventually disappear?
AMD’s leap forward with the driver is genuinely astounding, opening the door for further improvements. However, it’s important to verify these results with a range of games before celebrating.
Similarly, this development offers hope with significant implications. For one, better hardware results in a larger percentage difference between drivers, meaning the RTX 7900 XTX sees more improvement than the RX 7800 XT between December and January drivers with Fluid Motion Frames enabled (although it hasn’t been used for obvious reasons).
Also, as resolution increases, the improvement becomes smaller as it scales. Continuing with the RX 7900 XTX example, +35% at 1080p drops to +16% at 4K, a pattern mirrored across the other tested cards in similar proportions.
Finally, when considering NVIDIA, AMD is closing in on their high-end competitors in Ray Tracing. The RX 7900 XTX is still far behind the RTX 4090 and substantially behind the RTX 4080. However, it does challenge the RTX 4070 Ti for third place until the arrival of the RTX 4070 Ti SUPER and RTX 4080 SUPER.
What’s evident is that AMD has significant potential in their drivers, and with improvement and collaboration with developers, their hardware can slowly narrow the gap with NVIDIA. Although they may not reach parity, the difference is gradually shrinking as generations go by.