What Is AMD FidelityFX Super Resolution (FSR)?

During the Computex event in 2021, AMD finally announced what a lot of gamers have been waiting for. A response to Nvidia’s DLSS (Deep Learning Super Sampling) technology. This solution is called FSR or short for FidelityFX Super Resolution.

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What Is DLSS?

Before we can delve into AMD’s FidelityFX, we should first explain the original solution on the market, Nvidia’s DLSS.

DLSS has been in the making for a long time and it is a bit more complex than FSR since it relies on Tensor Cores found on RTX branded GPUs. Currently, just the 2000 and 3000 series.

With the power of the hardware and deep learning, DLSS does an upscale of lower-resolution images and outputs images of much higher resolutions. This results in significantly better performance while offering the same level of image quality or at least, minimally reduced quality.

At first, DLSS didn’t seem all that impressive because the first iterations of this technology proved to lose too much quality. The extra FPS were welcome, but users were left with blurry and smeared images as seen in Control and Battlefield V.

The changes that came with the release of DLSS 2.0 couldn’t be ignored. The performance uplift was the same, but in some situations, games even looked better than when played on native resolution.

These days, DLSS can be found in a lot of competitive and popular single games including Call of Duty Warzone and Black Ops Cold War, Cyberpunk 2077, Death Stranding, Watch Dogs: Legion, and several others.

Currently, the problem with DLSS is that needs to be included per game by developers. The implementation is still a slow process and that probably will not change any time soon since it is a solution that relies specifically on RTX hardware.

Fortunately, AMD’s FSR might change that since it is a software-based solution.

Updates +

  • September 2, 2021: Added Myst and Black Desert Online
  • August 3, 2021: Added more games supporting FSR

What Is FidelityFX Super Resolution?

Unlike DLSS, FSR does not rely on hardware which provides both advantages and disadvantages against its competition.

The main issue with FSR is its ability to maintain image quality. But, it turned out to be much better than people’s expectations. Nvidia utilizes deep learning (through the Tensor Cores) to fill what the image is lacking since it is set at a lower resolution.

AMD’s method is a bit different that uses non-linear and linear upscaling. Taking the original (lower resolution) image, sending it through a network of those two types of upscaling, gathering the most important (highest quality) information of the image, and then combining it to create a pixel grid.

This grid of pixels is then further processed to deliver a higher-quality image.

This is a pretty simple explanation/understanding, but it is exactly that at its core.

AMD believes that this is a superior method to deep learning solutions, but since this is still a very young technology, we assume that it is not going to deliver a higher level of image quality.

After the initial release, it is true, it doesn’t upscale better than DLSS, but it is pretty impressive.

Either way, it is going to take some time for AMD to reach the levels of DLSS 2.1.

However, it’s not all bad. Since this method does not rely on deep-learning and hardware such as Tensor Cores in RTX GPUs, FidelityFX Super Resolution can be used with a number of GPU series including RX 6000, RX 5000, RX 500, RX 400, RTX 20, RTX 30, RX Vega and even GTX 1000 series.

It’s entirely possible that these are only the officially tested GPUs. The technology might work on even older cards and RTX series of the future. That is yet to be tested, but if it does work, it’s going to be a huge win for everyone, especially for AMD.

This also leaves a lot of room for improvement for FSR. Since it is completely software-based, future GPUs can easily be adjusted to work with this new technology with just a simple driver update.

Game Support

What is even more interesting is that as FSR improves over the years, the in-game implementation might get much simpler for game developers.

In fact, the implementation process is already quite simple as there are some reports that a developer was able to add FSR into their game in just a few hours. If it really is that simple. Hundreds of games could support this feature in a short time span.

Additionally, some big game studios are now partnered with AMD to work on FSR including Frostbite, Warner Bros, Valve, Ubisoft, Hello Games, Capcom, Gearbox Software, and many more.

Updated list of FSR supported video games:

GameFSR Added
Anno 180022 June 2021
Godfall22 June 2021
22 Racing Games22 June 2021
Kingshunt22 June 2021
Terminator: Resistance22 June 2021
Edge of Eternity22 June 2021
The Riftbreaker22 June 2021
Dota 223 June 2021
Arcadegeddon16 July 2021
Marvel’s Avengers17 July 2021
Necromunda: Hired Gun17 July 2021
Resident Evil Village19 July 2021
Chernobylite28 July 2021
Elite Dangerous29 July 2021
Black Desert Online23 August 2021
Myst26 August 2021

FSR Quality Levels

During the Computex event of 2021, we got a glimpse of what FidelityFX Super Resolution can do.

We know that these types of examples are always best-case scenarios picked by the company, but it’s still impressive from what we’ve seen.

Within the presentation, AMD explained that FSR offers 4 types of quality: Ultra, Quality, Balanced, and Performance.

Every level of quality processes the images at a different resolution. For example, the Performance level halves your output resolution. So, if you are running a game at 4K, specifically 3840 x 2160p, with FSR Performance enabled, you will be realistically running at 1920 x 1080p.

Keep in mind, this is half the resolution, but a quarter of the pixels.

Quality uses two thirds of your ouptut resolution. So, at 4K, that would be 2560×1440.

To get true Ultra Quality input resolution, you will need to divide your output resolution by 1.3.

Performance Gains From FSR

Godfall

In their showcased game, Godfall, we saw a 59% increase in FPS at 4K with an RX 6800XT while using the Ultra (best quality) setting. That is pretty impressive. Additionally, the Quality setting offered 2x the performance while Balanced and Performance options went well over 2x. In fact, FSR performance delivered 3 times the FPS.

You know there is a but here somewhere. More FPS is always great, but not at a significant cost of image quality. Anything below the Ultra FSR setting starts showing a loss in image quality. Balanced and Performance look significantly blurry and less detailed.

Although that is expected as DLSS is also blurry while using the Performance setting.

And sure, a 59% increase sounds great, but the question is: Will this same result be present in other games?

The answer is yes. FSR is now officially released and there are already tons of benchmarks and reviews that show the true performance of this future. Let’s have a look at some other games, visual quality, and performance.

The Riftbreaker

The Riftbreaker is one of the first seven games that supported FSR and the results in this title are pretty impressive.

As seen in the image above, 4K Native and Ultra Quality seem almost identical, while Performance and Balanced show a minimal loss of image quality.

Keep in mind, The Riftbreaker has a top-down camera that is pretty zoomed out, so you’ll need to actively look for the loss of details

Of course, FSR is about the FPS gain and not just about the image quality. With FSR Ultra Quality at 1080p (tested with R7 5700G‘s iGPU), the improvement in FPS is around 25-30%. That is a huge leap in performance.

And, if you need more, you can always drop down to Quality which provides an FPS gain of about 50%.

Going all the way down to Performance can net you a performance double than 1080p native.

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Branko Gapo
Branko Gapo

Keeping up with the incredibly fast evolution of computer technology is impossible. That is why Branko will be using his knowledge on this matter to share news and information on all the latest essential technological innovations and advancements.