AMD have been extremely busy on the software front recently, they are of course working to get their Mantle API ready (for Battlefield 4, among other titles), and also releasing a slew of driver updates. One of the most important of which fixed the fan curve on the Radeon R9 290 and R9 290X series cards. But it’s fair to say that the Frame Pacing issues in CrossFire have been a thorn in AMD’s side for sometime now, and one they’re keen to remove.
Back in the mists of time of 2013 (or September to be more exact), AMD said they were ‘expecting’ the drivers to be released in November. The driver (known as Phase 2) aims at fixing the frame pacing and frame timing issues that AMD’s cards are experiencing while running in CrossFire configurations. Although at the time of the discovery, the frame pacing did affect single cards, multi-GPU’s were naturally more susceptible to the issue and by extension, harder to fix. By march, they’d fixed the majority of the single card issues, but the multi-GPU was still yet to be resolved.
These issues left cards such as the dual Tahiti powered 7990 at the mercy of AMD’s drivers, and they weren’t willing to play ball. The issue would often be that AMD could ‘win’ the frame rate war, but the game still feel less ‘smooth’ than it should considering the frame rate. AMD have released a the 13.8 Beta 1 driver back in July and it did help alleviate some of these issues.
But the Phase 2 driver, which was due in November AMD are now stating will experience a two month delay and has been pushed back until January 2014. So why the delay? Well, only AMD know for sure. But there’s probably several reasons. The first is as mentioned in the opening lines of this very article: Mantle. Secondly, AMD’s Kaveri Desktop APU’s are also due for launch soon enough. It’s also a good bet that the lack of XDMA hardware in cards prior to the GCN 1.1 architecture (so in other words, say the Radeon HD 7000 series) isn’t doing them any favors at all.
XDMA is the basic premise of removing the ‘bridge’ from the two graphic cards, and instead all data is passed through the motherboards PCIE slots. There are certainly issues with this – one is that you’re now at the mercy of the bandwidth of PCIE, and in some situations you could certainly start having bandwidth issues. But with monitor resolutions on PC going higher and higher (4K resolutions anyone), AMD knew they needed to do something sooner rather than later.
So, for folks with AMD Radeon cards running in CrossFire – all you can do is wait for a little longer for the fix.