During the Computex event in 2021, AMD finally announced what many gamers had been waiting for: a response to NVIDIA’s DLSS (Deep Learning Super Sampling) technology.
This solution is called FidelityFX Super Resolution or FSR for short.
Below, we’ll briefly talk about DLSS to ensure that everyone properly grasps the concept and then explain FSR in detail.
Let’s get into it!
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What Is DLSS?
With the power of this hardware and deep learning, DLSS performs an upscale of lower-resolution images and outputs images at much higher resolutions. This results in significantly better performance while providing the same level of image quality (or at least minimally reduced quality).
At first, DLSS wasn’t all that impressive because the first iterations of this technology were found to lose too much quality. The extra FPS were welcomed, 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 were a welcome surprise. The performance uplift was the same but, in some situations, games looked even better than when played at native resolution.
Today, DLSS can be found in a lot of popular competitive and single-player games including Call of Duty Warzone and Black Ops Cold War, Cyberpunk 2077, Death Stranding, Watch Dogs: Legion, and several others.
Currently, the main problem with DLSS is that it needs to be included in each game by its developers. This implementation is still a slow process and that is unlikely to change any time soon, as it is a solution that relies on RTX hardware specifically.
Fortunately, AMD’s FSR could change that as it is a software-based solution.
- December 15, 2021: Added even more games for FSR.
- 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 inability to maintain image quality. However, it works better than what most people expected. NVIDIA utilizes deep learning (through the Tensor Cores) to fill in what the image lacks, having been set at a lower resolution.
AMD’s method is a bit different in that it uses non-linear and linear upscaling.
It takes the original (lower resolution) image, sends it through a network of the two types of upscaling, gathers the most important (highest quality) information of the image, and then combines it to create a pixel grid.
This grid of pixels is then processed further to deliver a higher-quality image.
This is a pretty simple explanation, but it describes the process at its core.
AMD believes that this is a superior method to deep learning solutions. However, as it is still a very young technology, we have to assume that it is not going to deliver a higher level of image quality.
After the initial release, it’s true that it doesn’t upscale better than DLSS, but it is still pretty impressive.
In any case, it is going to take time for AMD to reach the levels of DLSS 2.1.
It’s not all bad news. As this method doesn’t rely on deep-learning and hardware such as the Tensor Cores in RTX GPUs, FidelityFX Super Resolution can be used with numerous GPU series including RX 6000, RX 5000, RX 500, RX 400, RTX 20, RTX 30, RX Vega and even the Nvidia GPUs like the GTX 1000 and RTX 2000, 3000 series.
There is a performance difference between different generations and most probably the above-mentioned AMD cards will work best with FSR. More FPS for free is good, no matter how much you’ll get.
We also believe there is a lot of room for improvement for FSR. As it is completely software-based, future GPUs can be easily adjusted to work with this new technology via a simple driver update.
What’s even more interesting is that, as FSR improves over the years, the in-game implementation might become much simpler for game developers.
In fact, the implementation process is already quite simple. There are some reports that a developer was able to add FSR into their game in just a few hours. If it truly is that simple, hundreds of games could support this feature relatively soon.
Additionally, some big game studios have 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:
|Anno 1800||22 June 2021|
|Godfall||22 June 2021|
|22 Racing Games||22 June 2021|
|Kingshunt||22 June 2021|
|Terminator: Resistance||22 June 2021|
|Edge of Eternity||22 June 2021|
|The Riftbreaker||22 June 2021|
|Dota 2||23 June 2021|
|Arcadegeddon||16 July 2021|
|Marvel’s Avengers||17 July 2021|
|Necromunda: Hired Gun||17 July 2021|
|Resident Evil Village||19 July 2021|
|Chernobylite||28 July 2021|
|Elite Dangerous||29 July 2021|
|Black Desert Online||23 August 2021|
|Myst||26 August 2021|
|Far Cry 6||7 October 2021|
|Deathloop||12 October 2021|
|Back 4 Blood||12 October 2021|
|Call of Duty: Vanguard||5 November 2021|
|Forza Horizon 5||6 November 2021|
FSR Quality Levels
During the Computex event of 2021, we saw a glimpse of what FidelityFX Super Resolution can do.
We know that these examples are best-case scenarios selected by the company, but what we’ve seen is still impressive.
In the presentation, AMD explained that FSR offers 4 levels of quality: Ultra, Quality, Balanced, and Performance.
Each level of quality processes the images at a different resolution. For example, the Performance level halves your output resolution. If you are running a game at 4K, specifically 3840 x 2160p, with FSR Performance enabled, you will truly be running it at 1920 x 1080p.
Keep in mind that this is half the resolution, but a quarter of the pixels.
The Quality mode uses two-thirds of your output resolution. 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
In the showcased game, Godfall, we saw a 59% increase to FPS at 4K with an RX 6800XT while using the Ultra (best quality) setting. That is very impressive. Additionally, the Quality setting offered 2x the performance while Balanced and Performance options went well over 2x. In fact, FSR’s Performance mode delivered 3 times the FPS.
You’re probably expecting a but in here somewhere. Increased FPS is great but not at a significant cost to image quality. Anything below the Ultra FSR setting begins showing a loss in image quality. Balanced and Performance modes look significantly blurrier and less detailed.
This is expected as DLSS is also blurry while using the Performance setting.
While a 59% increase sounds great, the question is whether or not the same results will be present in other games.
The answer is yes. FSR has now been officially released and there are already tons of benchmarks and reviews that show the true performance benefits of this feature. Let’s have a look at another game’s visual quality and performance.
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 that The Riftbreaker has a top-down camera that is pretty zoomed out, so you’ll need to actively look for any loss of details
Of course, FSR is about the FPS gain and not only the image quality. With FSR Ultra Quality at 1080p (tested with the R7 5700G‘s iGPU), the improvement to FPS is about 25-30%. That is a huge leap in performance.
If you need more, you can always drop down to Quality mode, which provides an FPS gain of about 50%.
Going all the way down to Performance mode can net you a performance that is double that of 1080p native.