AMD has an answer to DLSS, DirectML Super Resolution
It's finally happening
Published: 2nd November 2020 | Source: OC3D |
AMD has an answer to DLSS, DirectML Super Resolution
To many gamers, DLSS offers Nvidia RTX users a free graphics card performance upgrade in supported titles. This delivers Nvidia a huge performance advantage over their rivals.
AMD needs an answer to Nvidia's DLSS, and that answer is DirectML-powered Super Resolution. Like Nvidia, AMD plans to utilise Machine Learning improve the visual quality of games, but AMD's solution will have the backing of Microsoft.
In a recent disclosure regarding their Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S system, Microsoft confirmed that both of their next-generation consoles would support Machine learning for games with DirectML. Through their collaboration with AMD when creating their new consoles, AMD has a chance to replace DLSS with an alternative which will apply to gamers on both PC and Xbox, giving developers little reason to support DLSS over DirectML Super Resolution.
Through close collaboration and partnership between Xbox and AMD, not only have we delivered on this promise, we have gone even further introducing additional next-generation innovation such as hardware accelerated Machine Learning capabilities for better NPC intelligence, more lifelike animation, and improved visual quality via techniques such as ML powered super resolution.
We have discussed the potential of DirectML previously at OC3D, a component of Microsoft's DirectX feature set which has been overlooked by many enthusiasts. DirectML isn't a Radeon-only technology, and its applications extend far beyond Super Resolution functions. Over the coming years, future PC and Xbox games will bring Machine Learning into games in several new and innovative ways, impacting all gamers with supported hardware.
DirectML was revealed at the same time as DXR (DirectX Raytracing), and its image-enhancing capabilities have already been showcased at events like SIGGRAPH 2018. DirectML will create an open alternative to Nvidia's DLSS technology, allowing gamers outside of Nvidia's RTX ecosystem to benefit from Machine Learning.
DirectML - The API that could bring DLSS-like features to everyone
DirectML is a next-generation Xbox feature, and you can be sure that Microsoft will be pushing developers to use it. Work on DirectML has been happening publically for as long as DXR, and AMD's support for DirectML acceleration with RDNA 2 will help push the API to the forefront.
Microsoft has already showcased the potential of machine learning in gaming applications, with the image below showcasing what happens when Machine Learning is used to upscale an image to four times its original resolution (basically from 1080p to 4K) to generate a sharper final image with reduced aliasing. The image below is a comparison between ML Super Sampling and bilinear upsampling.
This technique has also been showcased during one of Microsoft's SIGGRAPH 2018 tech talks. This talk, which is entitled "Deep Learning for Real-Time Rendering: Accelerating GPU Inferencing with DirectML and DirectX 12" showcases Nvidia hardware upscaling Playground Games' Forza Horizon 3 from 1080p to 4K using DirectML in real-time. DirectML has the potential to improve the graphical fidelity of future console and PC games.
We couldn’t write a graphics blog without calling out how DNNs can help improve the visual quality and performance of games. Take a close look at what happens when NVIDIA uses ML to up-sample this photo of a car by 4x. At first the images will look quite similar, but when you zoom in close, you’ll notice that the car on the right has some jagged edges, or aliasing, and the one using ML on the left is crisper. Models can learn to determine the best color for each pixel to benefit small images that are upscaled, or images that are zoomed in on. You may have had the experience when playing a game where objects look great from afar, but when you move close to a wall or hide behind a crate, things start to look a bit blocky or fuzzy – with ML we may see the end of those types of experiences.
AMD's FidelityFX Super Resolution
AMD's Super Resolution technology is currently in development and should release as part of AMD's cross-platform GPUOpen/FidelityFX technology suite. This technology will be open and cross-platform, which means that FidelityFX Super Resolution will not be an AMD-only technology, a factor which will make the feature more attractive to developers.
Sadly, AMD has not shared much about this technology at this time, though we should expect to hear more from the company soon. As part of AMD's RDNa 2/Radeon RX 6000 series reveal event, AMD's Scott Herhelman stated that Super Resolution would give "gamers an option for more performance when using ray tracing".
Machine Learning Super Resolution is the future
While DirectML hasn't received as much attention as DirectX raytracing, you can be sure that developers are looking at the new API closely. As screen manufacturers are starting to push beyond 4K, AI upscaling technologies like Nvidia's DLSS will continue to increase in popularity. 4K gaming is already a challenge for modern PC hardware, and 8K is going to prove to be even more problematic for game makers and hardware vendors.
Technologies like DirectML will become vital for future games, both on PC and on consoles. The application of machine learning will allow developers to deliver higher levels of graphical fidelity without the insane hardware costs of traditional computational methods. Nvidia's DLSS may have been the first technology to deliver machine learning accelerated game enhancements, but its only a matter of time before an open alternative is unleashed.
You can join the discussion on AMD's answer to DLSS on the OC3D Forums.