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Old Jan 29, 2013, 10:53 PM   #1
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Default Rage3D Smoothness Testing Explained, Catalyst 13.1 vs 13.2

We had some great feedback about our new latency smoothness approach to evaluation, and have some updated details and new presentation to share. To highlight them, we've tested AMD's Catalyst 13.1 WHQL against the 13.2 beta leak, running Battlefield 3under CrossfireX Eyefinity.

Rage3D Smoothness Testing Explained, Catalyst 13.1 vs 13.2 @ Rage3D.com
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Old Jan 30, 2013, 06:48 AM   #2
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The principle of this is one that I have been an advocate of for a LONG time. Basically, not just frame rates determine smooth play. The human eye catches change and the more drastic the change the easier it is to detect. For example, frame rates of over 60 are generally considered smooth, however if you have a game play that is jumping from 200 to 65 and back you could get the appearance of stutter. The eye might not see the true frame rate but it would notice the change and register it.

It is good to see this discussion finally coming more mainstream.
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Old Jan 30, 2013, 10:36 AM   #3
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It's not so much seeing as it is feeling, this is the big mistake many people make is thinking it's about animation rate and how much change the eye can see. Research surrounding the recent Hobbit movie and it's 48FPS again highlighted that 24FPS isn't what the eye can see, it's what we consider smooth and we're conditioned to it being associated with suspension of disbelief for staring at a flat plane to watch movies. Scientists have shown that people can detect around 40 changes per second in their primary visual field, this is not counting peripheral vision - we know that we are more sensitive to motion out of the corner of our eye vs focus and detail at the center of binocular vision.

But games aren't movies, we make inputs that influence the animation we see but also the story we're engrossed in. So to say frame rates of over 60 considered smooth is to neglect action and reaction, expectation and result. A competitive player, very familiar with a game engine and how it plays will be expecting frames to be delivered in a certain time frame. Studies of fighter pilots and racing drivers have shown that their reaction times become more attuned, able to respond in 1/10 of the time of a regular person. I'm not suggesting competitive gamers are in the same league but just that time and ability vary, and different people are sensitive to different degrees.

The purpose of our smoothness analysis is to provide a look at how uneven or inconsistent delivery of frames affects game play, which is one of the major reasons people buy new graphics cards - they are touted as improving the experience. There are several aspects to improvement, you need image quality, smoothness and performance.

Our smoothness index is designed to be a hard metric to score highly in, to suit the more discerning consumers. We'll tweak it as feedback and time suggests.
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Old Jan 30, 2013, 11:00 AM   #4
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Jim, are there some titles that suffer more from the stuttering than others? There are parts of Skyrim on my son's 7770 that are very choppy yet the FPS are 50+.
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Old Jan 30, 2013, 12:30 PM   #6
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The gamebryo powered games from Bethesda usually suffers from stuttering.
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Old Jan 30, 2013, 12:38 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by acroig View Post
Jim, are there some titles that suffer more from the stuttering than others? There are parts of Skyrim on my son's 7770 that are very choppy yet the FPS are 50+.
Yes, and Skyrim is a poster boy for smoothness issues. have you tried 13.2b yet on his machine? it's one of the games targeted.
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Old Jan 30, 2013, 01:26 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by caveman-jim View Post
Yes, and Skyrim is a poster boy for smoothness issues. have you tried 13.2b yet on his machine? it's one of the games targeted.
Not yet. Will install this weekend when he's with me.

Thanks.
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Old Jan 30, 2013, 05:55 PM   #9
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I'm not suggesting competitive gamers are in the same league but just that time and ability vary, and different people are sensitive to different degrees.
I wouldn't be surprised if they're not far off. It's incredible what some of them can do.
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Old Jan 30, 2013, 08:20 PM   #10
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How can one perceive frame rate changes that all exceed the fastest rate the monitor can update, as in 60hz? If the frame rate changes from 90 to 65 and all over the place but stays always above 60fps, then what difference does it make to perception? You can't perceive something not shown.

Now one can perceive the different rates of tearing, or the different frames being shown on the screen at the same time. When tearing changes is that what we are really noticing? Not really an actual frame rate but more the effects of a changing inconsistent fps. So fps limiters would limit tearing, like vsync without the latency issues involved.

So even if at 60hz, effects of faster fps can be perceived which the brain can interpret as stops or stutter yet fps
never went below 60fps. Fascinating but it rings true and I wonder if any real research has been done with this.

Last edited by noko : Jan 30, 2013 at 08:24 PM.
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Old Jan 30, 2013, 08:29 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by noko View Post
How can one perceive frame rate changes that all exceed the fastest rate the monitor can update, as in 60hz? If the frame rate changes from 90 to 65 and all over the place but stays always above 60fps, then what difference does it make to perception? You can't perceive something not shown.

Now one can perceive the different rates of tearing, or the different frames being shown on the screen at the same time. When tearing changes is that what we are really noticing? Not really an actual frame rate but more the effects of a changing inconsistent fps. So fps limiters would limit tearing, like vsync without the latency issues involved.

You're operating on a misconception. Being locked to 60hz doesn't mean you're locked to 60fps; there are in fact very noticeable differences in framerates and latency even when seeing framerate beyond 60 on a 60hz monitor. Not all frames will be displayed, but absolutely enough to make a significant difference.
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Old Jan 30, 2013, 08:48 PM   #12
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You're operating on a misconception. Being locked to 60hz doesn't mean you're locked to 60fps; there are in fact very noticeable differences in framerates and latency even when seeing framerate beyond 60 on a 60hz monitor. Not all frames will be displayed, but absolutely enough to make a significant difference.
That was my point. Well trying to break it down to why limited to 60fps rate of monitor is not filtering out the effects of faster fps rates which have high variations in frame rates.

For example a 60hz monitor cannot show 120 full frames a second, but it can show more than 60 partial frames per second. I also believe a situation occurs where the buffer is wiped with a new frame, monitor then shows new frame but it is several frames after the last one shown which with varying frame rates will give a jitter perception even though faster then 60fps rates.

This I find all very interesting, the science of computer graphic frame rate perception.
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Old Jan 30, 2013, 08:55 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by noko View Post
That was my point. Well trying to break it down to why limited to 60fps rate of monitor is not filtering out the effects of faster fps rates which have high variations in frame rates.

For example a 60hz monitor cannot show 120 full frames a second, but it can show more than 60 partial frames per second. I also believe a situation occurs where the buffer is wiped with a new frame, monitor then shows new frame but it is several frames after the last one shown which with varying frame rates will give a jitter perception even though faster then 60fps rates.

This I find all very interesting, the science of computer graphic frame rate perception.
Could be the subject for a future article. Not sure what you mean about high variation - it's entirely possible to maintain constantly high framerate.

Glad you're on the nerd train with us.
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Old Jan 30, 2013, 09:25 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by seanR3D View Post
Could be the subject for a future article. Not sure what you mean about high variation - it's entirely possible to maintain constantly high framerate.

Glad you're on the nerd train with us.


Larger changes in fps from one period of time to the next. Thinking about a time line - rendering at 120 fps on a 60hz monitor you would be showing every other full frame at the same time interval. Now if fps are 180, 70, 90 etc. fps the interval gets screwed. Instead of every other frame it could be 3 frames rendered but only one shown then followed by 1.5 frames rendered with a tear and so on.
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Old Jan 30, 2013, 09:50 PM   #15
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Smoothness of gameplay doesn't equal smoothness of animation. Input latency, expected response time, and the means used to achieve the high performance metrics all affect smooth gameplay. Note that at 60fps without vsync you can have 2 frames on screen at a time, even if assuming equal frame render times. The reality is times are uneven meaning ay 60fps without vsync, even starting the first frame at sync, you can quickly have 2, 3, 4 frames on screen at a time. Whether this appears smooth and feels smooth depends on the engine and how it polled and updated internally alongside the uneven frame render times, and if the GPU and CPU are running both in real time or if the GPU is running buffered / queued commands.

Last edited by caveman-jim : Jan 30, 2013 at 09:53 PM.
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Old Jan 31, 2013, 03:33 PM   #16
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this is awesome Dave! I really like the 3rd Frame Render Time distribution graph.
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Old Jan 31, 2013, 03:41 PM   #17
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this is awesome Dave!
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this is awesome Dave!
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this is awesome Dave!
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this is awesome Dave!


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I really like the 3rd Frame Render Time distribution graph.
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