AMD Catalyst 13.8 Beta Frame Pacing CrossFire Driver

Has stuttering with CrossFire been getting you down? Today may make many AMD CrossFire owners happy. Catalyst 13.8 Beta includes Frame Pacing technology to create a more fluid CrossFire experience. At least up to 2560x1600 resolution, for now. Does it really do the job? We investigate this and tell you what the gameplay experience is like.

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Driver Screenshots

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In the first screenshot above you will find the information on the Catalyst 13.8 Beta file versions for this Catalyst package. In the second screenshot you will see the new Frame Pacing option. The Frame Pacing toggle is located under Gaming 3D Application Settings, scroll to the very bottom. It is located under "AMD CrossFireX" category, indicating that AMD has not yet updated its drivers to reflect the correct brand name change of dropping the X and just calling it AMD "CrossFire." (Yes, AMD changed it BACK some time ago.) This also indicates that Frame Pacing is for CrossFire only, and most likely only needed for multi-GPU configurations from our perspective. The toggle can be switched between On and Off, and On is the default setting.

How we are going to test today

We are going to look at Frame Pacing in a very narrow and focused scenario, evaluating three different types of data points. Firstly, we are going to use an AMD Radeon HD 7990 video card for today's testing. This video card makes CrossFire simple and eliminates any inconsistencies possible in the ribbon cable or clock speeds and timings between two separate video cards. This will give us the most efficient non-Frame Pacing and Frame Pacing results.

Though this video card is around $850 online, AMD is currently offering with it an 8 free game bundle including popular and enjoyable games. The games alone are a $400 value. This video card represents about 15% less performance than two standalone Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition video cards. However, we aren't making a card to card comparison, instead, we are making a Frame Pacing versus No Frame Pacing comparison.

On the following page we are first going to find out if turning on Frame Pacing causes a performance drop in today's latest games. We are going to use five games for this purpose in an apples-to-apples scenario in GPU limited settings. On the page after that we are going to do something we haven't done before. We are going to use FRAPs frame time data in an outputted graph format to plot the frame time and look at consistency. Frame time reports in fraps have actually been tested against game engine frame time reports and have come up rather solid and reliable. Given that FCAT is not measuring this properly, we think this is a good stopgap for the time being. Finally, we are going to summarize the actual gameplay experience playing games with Frame Pacing on and off in the conclusion.

Test Setup

We will be using an ASUS P8Z77 WS motherboard. This motherboard supports PCIe 3.0 spec. For the CPU we used an Intel i7 3770K at 4.8GHz. The RAM is 8GB at 1600MHz.

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The AMD Radeon HD 7990 is using Catalyst 13.8 Beta.