With the introduction of the AMD RX 6700 XT, many fans expected that AMD's long-awaited DLSS alternative FidelityFX Super Resolution would be there. It's not quite there yet, but it's on the way and if it does hit it could have a significant impact on games and the graphics market. Although DLSS and Super Resolution achieve the same goal, AMD and Nvidia use different techniques. We're here to find out what FidelityFX Super Resolution is, when it might be released, and what to expect after it's launched.
What is AMD FidelityFX Super Resolution?
FidelityFX Super Resolution (FSR) is AMD's answer to Nvidia's Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS). Like DLSS, FSR is an image reconstruction feature that makes a game look like it is being rendered at a higher resolution than it actually is. The engine may render the game at 1080p and FSR will fill in the missing pixels to make it look like a 1440p output. AMD has not yet tested the capabilities of FSR, so 1080p to 1440p may not be possible. However, this will at least give you an idea of how the feature works.
However, FSR is not just a copy of DLSS. Nvidia's technology trains an artificial intelligence (A.I.) model with high quality scans offline (e.g. a 16K still image). DLSS can then use the A.I. Model. FSR is likely going in a different direction. Scott Herkelman, AMD's vice president of graphics, told PCWorld that "you don't need machine learning to do this" and that AMD is "evaluating the many different ways" to get a reconstructed image.
In contrast to DLSS, AMD also takes an open approach to FSR. The entire FidelityFX suite works across many generations of GPUs from AMD and Nvidia. It is therefore only reasonable to assume that AMD will take a similar approach to FSR. This could mean compatibility with previous generations of AMD GPUs. However, AMD is likely to focus on its 6000 series graphics cards, as well as the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5.
When will FidelityFX Super Resolution be released?
AMD hasn't announced a release date for FSR yet, outside of Herkelman, who in his interview with PCWorld confirms that it will come in 2021. Many speculated that FSR would launch alongside the RX 6700 XT in March 2021, but that didn't happen. AMD wants to start FSR not only for its current RDNA 2 graphics cards, but also for the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 operated with RDNA 2. However, Herkelman stated that the PC is the top priority.
Given DLSS 1.0's disappointing start, the wait is probably the best move. It's not clear when FSR will start in 2021, whether it will start this year at all. It's also not clear whether it will hit PC first or whether it will launch entirely across platforms. Given the little AMD has said, we'll be excluding it on the latest RX 6000 series graphics cards alongside Xbox and PlayStation later this year. However, AMD hasn't confirmed anything, so it may take longer.
Super Resolution isn't available yet, but AMD now has a similar, less sophisticated software tool: FidelityFX Contrast Adaptive Sharpening (CAS). In short, CAS combines an upscaler with image sharpening, and while it works, it's not as impressive as DLSS. Like other FidelityFX features, CAS is open source and available across platforms.
Which games support FidelityFX Super Resolution?
AMD hasn't released a lot of information about FSR, let alone which games will support it. However, AMD has worked with studios like Arkane, CD Projekt Red, and Gearbox to provide support for the current FidelityFX suite. Over 40 titles support at least one FidelityFX function, and many games support multiple functions.
The current lineup includes games like Cyberpunk 2077, Horizon Zero Dawn, and Godfall. These games all support CAS, so we expect a good chunk of them to support FSR once it is launched. Make sure to check out the full list of supported titles from AMD to see if your favorite game is playing there. Note, however, that it is possible that all, some, or none of them will have FSR in the future. We don't know yet.
A DLSS killer?
Between DLSS and FSR, it will depend on how far AMD and Nvidia can advance their respective technologies. DLSS 2.0 can already provide 4-fold scaling. While such scaling can result in some visual artifacts, it is still possible. While AMD is taking things slowly with FSR, we don't expect such a big jump at launch. Most likely, the function will start with scaling for the next common screen resolution (i.e. 1080p to 1440p and 1440p to 4K). However, FSR has one great advantage. We know it's about Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5.
While both consoles are very impressive right now, at some point they will show their age. At this point, developers have to rely on image reconstruction to make better looking games, and AMD is already there. FSR will be available on consoles. DLSS is only available on PC, and we don't expect that to change (outside of a potential Nintendo Switch Pro).
If FSR and DLSS are the same in terms of performance, it only makes sense for AMD to win over the long term with its cross-platform, more open approach. Developers have a much greater incentive to add FSR to their games, with support for consoles and PCs. And as DLSS has shown, this type of image reconstruction is essential for running the most demanding games with features like ray tracing.
Additionally, FSR could make AMD GPUs a much more compelling option. The latest 6000-series GPUs offer impressive raster performance, but Nvidia is still the crowning glory at the back of ray tracing performance when combined with DLSS. If FSR works as well as DLSS, then AMD is at least one option to play the latest AAA games with all the visual bells and whistles.