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AMD and Valve Working on CPU Driver That Could Boost Steam Deck Performance

Steam Deck Hardware Analysis
(Image credit: Valve)

According to a report from Phoronix, AMD and Valve are working together to design a better CPU performance scaling driver for Linux, targeting the Steam Deck gaming console. 

Valve has recently launched its Steam Deck gaming console that houses AMD's custom Ryzen APU with embedded RDNA 2 GPU and Zen 2 CPU powered by a Linux-based Arch operating system (OS). Given that this system runs a Linux-based OS, Valve has to optimize the software as much as possible to ensure a smooth and consistent gaming experience across various AAA titles.

According to the report, Valve has been improving the CPU frequency scaling of Zen 2 cores in a joint effort with AMD. Steam Deck will obviously benefit from this collaboration, along with other AMD processors that run on Linux.

AMD's Zen 2 design now uses the ACPI CPUFreq driver, which was "not very performance/power efficiency [efficient] for modern AMD platforms." This approach resulted in poor frequency scaling and made it difficult for power-limited solutions like the Steam Deck to manage the power/performance ratio. To improve scaling, AMD has used the Collaborative Processor Performance Control (CPPC), a part of ACPI specification, which provides a generic improvement for all newer Zen designs. However, if AMD decides to design a vendor-specific driver (for Valve), it's possible that the solution couldn't scale to other platforms and would remain exclusive to Steam Deck.

We won't know the full details until AMD and Valve decide to present their work to the masses. AMD will share more details about its work on the scaling driver at the X.org Developer Conference (XDC), which takes place from September 15th through September 17th. We could learn more about other AMD and Valve collaborations, too. 

Hopefully the companies share their work in the open-source format, which would benefit the broader ecosystem. Valve has been a big supporter of open-source Radeon drives in the past, and a little help from AMD wouldn't hurt.

  • Krotow
    That is promising for gamers in general. I hope that they will do something for HDR support in Linux too.
    Reply
  • jkoehler
    Given that this system runs a Linux-based OS, Valve has to optimize the software as much as possible to ensure a smooth and consistent gaming experience across various AAA titles

    Linux already runs really fast compared to Windows. Still, software should be as optimized as much as possible when targeting specific hardware.

    AMD will share more details about its work on the scaling driver at the X.org Developer Conference (XDC)
    This is interesting because Steam Deck will be running under Wayland with a custom compositor. Since Wayland is the successor to X.Org and they are showing this off at the X.Org Developer Conference, it could be pointing to them sharing the code behind this.
    Reply