AMD’s angry at Nvidia because of Geralt’s fabulous hair

There’s just too much blast processing

Oh hey, it’s that thing that happens every time a new major release comes out. AMD and Nvidia are trading blows yet again about the performance problems some have reported in beard-cultivating simulator The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.

According to Ars Technica, the argument AMD are making lies in the use of Nvidia’s GameWorks framework. It includes proprietary code for things such as HairWorks (for Geralt’s luxurious hair) and HBAO+, which are becoming popular with developers.

Unfortunately, because it’s proprietary, and developers are banned from sharing the code, this means that AMD can’t optimise their drivers for it.  That means lower framerates and a large amount of angry AMD graphics card users.

In a response to PC Perspective, Brian Burke at Nvidia claims that GameWorks isn’t unethical because it follows standards set within an industry where proprietary source code is common. He also hit out against AMD for simply not being able to keep up:

We are not asking game developers do anything unethical.
GameWorks improves the visual quality of games running on GeForce for our customers.  It does not impair performance on competing hardware.
Demanding source code access to all our cool technology is an attempt to deflect their performance issues. Giving away your IP, your source code, is uncommon for anyone in the industry, including middleware providers and game developers. Most of the time we optimize games based on binary builds, not source code.
GameWorks licenses follow standard industry practice.  GameWorks source code is provided to developers that request it under license, but they can’t redistribute our source code to anyone who does not have a license. 
The bottom line is AMD’s tessellation performance is not very good and there is not a lot NVIDIA can/should do about it. Using DX11 tessellation has sound technical reasoning behind it, it helps to keep the GPU memory footprint small so multiple characters can use hair and fur at the same time.
I believe it is a resource issue. NVIDIA spent a lot of artist and engineering resources to help make
Witcher 3 better. I would assume that AMD could have done the same thing because our agreements with developers don’t prevent them from working with other IHVs. (See also, Project Cars)
I think gamers want better hair, better fur, better lighting, better shadows and better effects in their games. GameWorks gives them that.”

No matter what either company say, the fact of the matter is players aren’t getting equal experiences because of it, and that’s shit. Whether anything will ever come of these little tiffs I’ve got absolutely no idea, but we can all be sure we’ll be in the exact same position this time next major launch.

Source: Ars Technica

Joe Parlock