AMD Fires Back at G-Sync With Non-Proprietary Alternative

Not long ago, Nvidia announced its all-new G-Sync technology, which made quite an impact. Since that happened though, a lot of the enthusiast crowd has been awaiting AMD's response but has not received one. Now though, everything changes as AMD is demonstrating its supposed FreeSync technology, which requires no proprietary hardware – just a panel with VESA's variable VBLANK support and a GPU (or APU) with support for the technology.

To demonstrate the technology, AMD purchased two Toshiba Satellite Click notebooks, which have the appropriate hardware support. The reason for this, according to AMD, is that there has been increasing pressure from various parties to bring variable VBLANK support to mobile devices for power saving reasons.

Support for the variable VBLANK technology from a driver-side standpoint was all that was required; it is already featured in AMD's latest Catalyst graphics driver. However, none of the actual controls have been brought to the user configuration screen yet.

VBLANK is effectively keeping the same image-screen without refreshing it. Variable VBLANK would be equivalent to a variable refresh rate, effectively achieving the same purpose as Nvidia's G-Sync. According to The Tech Report, AMD's executives were puzzled as to why Nvidia chose to implement a solution that requires expensive external hardware. The explanation given is that Nvidia's GPUs might not have support for variable VBLANK built in,  thus needing external hardware. It's not certain though, since only GTX650 Ti BOOST cards or higher support G-Sync, indicating that there is some sort of hardware within the GPU that is required.

It seems that AMD isn't yet at a stage to publicly release FreeSync, but that will change as time goes by and more and more display panels incorporate VESA's standard for variable VBLANK technology. The technology is still in an early stage and requires more development before it can be fully deployed, so stay tuned for more!

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Niels Broekhuijsen

Niels Broekhuijsen is a Contributing Writer for Tom's Hardware US. He reviews cases, water cooling and pc builds.

  • nilfisktun
    But if there is no changes to the screen, the refresh rate will still be fixed on it at 60, 120 or 144 hz. So how does this work? Whats the new tech here? If they are just fixed to the screens refresh, thats exactly the same as v-sync.. wtf?
  • Amdlova
    Thank you AMD. for made a free tecnology. this is the why nvidia will die... the world is going to free and nvidia only want make cash...
  • redeemer
    Thanks AMD for not milking us like Nvidia does
  • Jeff Gilleese
    I had a long argument with someone on the g-sync article. No mater what you are going to be keeping an image on the screen as a buffered frame unless you show a Blake screen inplace of a buffered frame witch would cause a screen flicker. G-sync is a gimick. Any monitor manufacturer could make a panel controller that does the same thing and not need some expensive add on chip to implement. Nvidia is seeming desperate to control a market, even if they have to fabricate one. As I said last time. Nvidia is starting to remind me of Sony 8 years ago. Arrogant and grasping at straws.
  • Deus Gladiorum
    And here I am stuck with an Nvidia GPU and a non-compatible monitor, meaning I don't think I can have either technology.
  • ohim
    AMD has always been an innovative company, yet they still struggle financially due to various reasons. Good for them for bringing this for free with no extra hardware in the monitor. I understand innovation and the right to patent things to protect your investment in R&D but sometimes some things should not be proprietary (aka rounded corner rectangles - apple ).
  • spp85
    Wow....that's AMD. I'm eagerly waiting for this technology to surface for public use. nVidia is desperate to sell their hardware.
  • houldendub
    Lol @ everybody hailing AMD as the next messiah here. They say it's going to be freely available, but much like TressFX and Mantle, no doubt this is for GCN chips only, which, shock and horror, are only available on AMD cards.At least Nvidia goes out and shows this stuff off to people, has anyone seen any Mantle powered footage of BF4 yet? Is frame pacing available to DX9 games yet? Or Eyefinity setups? They're not exactly the pinnacle of innovation either; I mean, Right after Nvidia announce and then release the Geforce Experience, suddenly AMD slaps it's name on a third party tool that does much the same (albeit, and let's be honest, worse) thing. Then, after Gsync, suddenly AMD's here and has this technology that's apparently ready in drivers, but has absolutely no demo, no proper press announcement and no confirmation how it might work or anything. They haven't even sorted out frame pacing, now that the discussion around it has seemingly died down, so has development on getting it properly working it seems.C'mon AMD, do something magical that Nvidia hasn't done yet. Go wild and do something like hell, I dunno, dual GPU versions of every card, what about a triple GPU card? Or here's a wild one, actually get one of your proprietary technologies working in more than 1 game yeah? Such lack of imagination.
  • silverblue
    Except AMD hardware has supported this since 2006.
  • Coolant
    Guy above why all the pain bro?