AMD Radeon FidelityFX Super Resolution
A driver-side feature, which means you must have an AMD GPU to use it.
AMD has released its new Radeon Software 22.3.1 drivers, supporting Radeon Super Resolution technology as a broader and somewhat of an answer to fight off DLSS from NVIDIA. Will the new feature make enough of a difference, and is image quality not a bothersome issue? Let’s try and see so you know what you can expect.
Why Radeon Super Resolution?
RSR is a new software-based upscaling solution from AMD that relies on the company’s FidelityFX Super Resolution technology (FSR v1.0). This now is a wide driver-level implementation of FSR. AMD has developed RSR as a game- and developer-independent upscaling technology that can be activated at the Radeon driver level for any game that supports exclusive full-screen rendering. This is accomplished by relocating the upscaling algorithm further downstream in the graphics pipeline than FSR does. Why you ask? Well, we’ve mentioned this in all our Radeon RX 6000 series reviews; AMD’s most significant deficit is that they do not have a solution at hand that matches DLSS from NVIDIA. NVIDIA wins every, and each time a game adds DLSS. NVIDIA did that very clever; they added Tensor cores in hardware on NVIDIA’s RTX series over two years ago, which will always work out better for NVIDIA. So here we are; a few years later, AMD had decided not to implement a hardware solution as NVIDIA does. As a result of negative feedback, they needed to develop all kinds of ominous ideas to answer the lack of that feature. With the RSR technology being driver-based, it should help bring new levels of performance to the company’s less-powerful graphics cards, which certainly includes the Radeon RX 6500 XT and its extreme cost-cutting philosophy. Where FSR requires integration on a per-game basis, there are still relatively few games that use FSR. RSR opens the doors to using the same basic technology across all games, which is surely on AMD’s mind.
What about FSR?
RSR is based on FSR 1.0 but is now implemented at the driver level. FSR (which needs developer-side game support) will still continue to be developed. AMD currently is working on v2.0. While we agree that it is very confusing to see the two standards next to each other, inevitably we assume that v2.0 will make it into RSR. On the last page of the article, we’ll share a little more about FSR v2.0
The AMD implementation: ‘Upscale Everything’
AMD presented an ‘response’ towards NVIDIA’s DLSS and unveiled its FidelityFX Super Resolution a while ago. RSR is the same thing, yet enforced at the company Radeon driver level, directly in the rendering pipeline. Where DLSS is a deep learning technique that uses artificial intelligence to improve rendered frames, Radeon Super Resolution is just an algorithmic spatial scaler and sharpener. There is undoubtedly the question of overall quality. One advantage of integrating DLSS and FSR/RSR is that all text and user interface components may continue to render at native resolution, while the often-less-important 3D-produced scenery is upscaled. Upscaling everything — particularly text — may result in a less attractive viewing experience overall, but when weighed against the possible performance increases, this may be an acceptable trade-off. In theory (since it is now driver based) RSR should be compatible with any game that supports fullscreen mode. It does not need creators to incorporate it into their games, like FSR does, allowing it to be used in an infinite number of products. RSR and FSR do not use any machine learning or inference. While it is an interesting instrument that creates additional performance, we think we can already conclude that it is in no way comparable to an AI-powered image scaling system. However, our initial impressions of the techniques applied is not at all negative; in its ‘Ultra Quality’ mode certainly looks okay, but there’s bound to be a reduction in the visual quality of the games as in the end, you are upscaling. Please do understand this well, FSR/RSR isn’t a representation of DLSS; Nvidia’s tech works by training an artificial intelligence (A.I.) model with high-quality scans, which they perform offline (try to imagine 16K still frames where their algorithm is learning from). DLSS can then fill in the extra information in a frame using that A.I. model. On its end, FSR uses a common and fixed supersampling technique with one upscaling and one sharpening pass. AMD explained that it uses linear and non-linear upscaling facilitates both the preservation of the color and larger-scale features (large objects and shapes that are more easily observed by the human eye) of the image from linear upscaling as well as the preservation of finer features (e.g., curved features and features that are not effortlessly observed in low resolution) of the image from non-linear upscaling. The original (lower-res) image will pass through a linear upscaling network and a non-linear upscaling network at the same time, extracting different bits of information through each path. FSR blends these images to produce a pixel grid, then expands on each pixel for a higher-res image. After frame clean-up, you have your refurbished image. In the end, I would label this entire paragraph as a spatial upscaling technology with an added sharpening pass, as simple as that.