Published in Graphics

Nvidia not impressed by AMD free sync demo

by on08 January 2014

Handbag fight

AMD demonstrated an interesting sync solution at its pre-CES event, claiming that it will be simpler and cheaper to implement than Nvidia’s G-Sync. AMD’s free sync basically uses existing hardware, unlike G-Sync which relies on proprietary modules.
Free sync was demonstrated on a couple of cheap laptops and those who had a chance to see it in action say it works just fine. However, Nvidia begs to differ.

Nvidia’s Tom Petersen told the Tech Report that the two technologies aren’t really comparable. Peterson pointed out that the demonstration worked on laptops because they have a more direct interface between the GPU and the screen. Laptops use LVDS or eDP interfaces, while desktops use DisplayPort and HDMI. The latter feature a scaler ASIC and they are not direct interfaces. Therefore Petersen insists AMD’s free sync is impossible to implement in desktops.

Nvidia’s approach was more elaborate, as G-Sync replaces the scaler ASIC with a proprietary Nvidia design. Run of the mill scaler ASICs do not support variable refresh rates, hence they cannot be used to eliminate stuttering or frame tearing.

However, although AMD’s free sync tech isn’t coming to desktops, it might prove useful in gaming laptops. Since it does not require any specialized hardware and it is compatible with the last three generation of AMD GPUs, it might be possible to add support to existing models with a firmware update.

Nvidia does not wish to open up G-Sync and allow its use with AMD graphics cards and AMD does not appear to be working on a similar solution of its own.


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