With the release of the Catalyst 12.2 WHQL drivers AMD has made available the official support for Crossfire in stereo 3D mode (previously only available in beta drivers) and as I’ve promised I did some testing to see how the Radeon HD 7970 will scale its performance in stereo 3D mode with a single and dual cards in Crossfire. I’ve used the 23-inch LG D2342P passive 3D monitor along with the TriDef 3D software as a middle-ware providing the stereo 3D support in games. Then a few more demanding in terms of performance games were ran with a single Radeon HD 7970 and with a dual HD 7970s in Crossfire in stereoscopic 3D mode and you can find the average framerate that was achieved below.
– Motherboard: Gigabyte X79-UD3
– Processor: Intel Core i7 3960X @ 4.6 GHz
– Memory: 8 GB Exceleram DDR3-1600
– Storage: 120 GB Intel X25-M SSD
– OS: Windows 7 Professional 64-bit
– Video card: Radeon HD7970s with Catalyst 12.2 driver
– 3D Monitor: 23″ LG D2342P-PN (Passive 3D)
– 3D Middleware: DDD TriDef 3D 5.1 software
Games were tested on 1920×1080 resolution with maximum detail settings and 4xAA enabled where available (AAA for Metro 2033 with DOF disabled), unless AA gets forced to disabled from the software in order to get better performance. Have in mind that the framerate in the table and graph is per eye, the graphics card actually needs to render twice that number of frames, so each eye gets a slightly different perspective in order to create the 3D image.
As you can see from the results when the Crossfire is working as it should in stereo 3D mode there is quite nice scaling in terms of performance when you add in a second video card. But considering the fact that the games used for testing are all popular titles and have been available for a while already there were some surprises. For example there was no scaling in terms of performance at all in Skyrim, Mafia II did not run in Crossfire by default, but when forced it worked just fine and scaled well, and F1 2011 was just crashing with Crossfire enabled. Also take a look at the average framerate achieved with a single card in stereo 3D mode, a bit on the edge for comfortable gaming… meaning that you should compromise a bit on detail levels or extra filtering settings and that is the current flagship GPU from AMD. But still the addition of Crossfire support in stereo 3D mode is a good thing finally happening after a long wait, so now you can actually add a second card and get a performance boost over the not so good framerate you may be getting in stereo 3D mode, and up until a few months you could not do that. Now, another interesting question is how does the Radeon HD 7970 compare to the newly released GeForce GTX 680 in stereo 3D mode and I’m sure that there are a lot of people wondering about that already…
The official version of the AMD Catalyst 12.1 driver is now available based on the Catalyst 12.1 preview driver released a few weeks ago. Sadly the Catalyst 12.1 driver has no support for the new Radeon HD 7970 GPUs and neither does the new AMD Catalyst 12.2 Preview Driver that was also made available together with the release of the official 12.1 version. For AMD AMD Radeon HD 7900 Series the company recommends users to use the 8.921.2 RC11 driver at least until an official release of the drivers becomes available.
But back to the AMD Catalyst 12.1 driver, as expected from the preview driver released earlier, the new driver adds support for the use of AMD HD3D technology in conjunction with AMD CrossFireX configurations – both for native stereo 3D games using HD3D as well as games relying on the middle-ware partners such as iZ3D and DDD TriDef 3D, as well as well as the new Stereo 3D mode over HDMI 1.4a connections supporting 1080p at 30Hz, but only on compatible displays (anyone tested this already?). Other improvements and fixes in this driver release are oriented at more general things and not at stereoscopic 3D support. As for the Catalyst 12.2 Preview Driver, some improvements to Eyefinity support, but nothing apparently especially targeted at stereoscopic 3D users… maybe in the official 12.2 driver next month we are going to also see support for Radeon HD 7970 as well as other new features such as Eyefinity stereo 3D support with active displays as well as support for 1080p 60Hz 3D mode (anyone know of a 3D-capable display product already supporting this?). So stay tuned for more form AMD and meanwhile do not be in a hurry to pull the trigger for a Radeon HD 7970 if you plan on building a stereoscopic 3D gaming rig.
Neil Schneider from MTBS interviews Roger Quero, Senior Technical Marketing Manager of Displays for AMD. In this stereoscopic 3D video interview Roger Quero talks about the new Radeon HD7970 GPU with the updated higher bandwidth HDMI, multi-monitor Eyefinity 3D setups, Crossfire in stereo 3D mode. And apparently AMD has been demonstrating these new features during CES 2012, however the company still hasn’t released an official driver for the new Radeon HD 7970 GPUs and now the first cards based on the slightly slower Radeon HD 7950 are around the corner. So if you want to be able to take advantage of all the new stereoscopic 3D features so of which will be supported also on older generation Radeon HD-based video cards, you should wait a bit more for the drivers that will be able to provide you with these.