Nvidia turns its image scaler into an open-source alternative to DLSS, competitor to AMD...

Daniel Sims

Posts: 412   +17
Staff
The big picture: Nvidia's November 2021 update covers multiple subjects regarding what the company is doing with its image reconstruction technology. The main story is its upgraded image scaling tech, called Nvidia Image Scaling, which is being offered as an alternative to DLSS and AMD's FSR in hopes of gaining wider developer support.

There has been a lot of praise for Nvidia's DLSS -- a feature that, in games which support it, makes lower resolution images look as good or better than higher resolution images, thus enhancing performance. This works through a combination of AI, the use of information from previous frames, and the tensor cores in Nvidia's RTX graphics cards. Analyses from groups like Eurogamer's Digital Foundry have maintained that users should always turn it on whenever available.

AMD's FSR also tries to boost performance by upscaling images from lower resolutions through methods like spatial upscaling and sharpening. It doesn't use AI or information from previous frames, but works on most GPUs whether they're AMD or Nvidia.

Comparisons between the two in games that support both have noted that FSR is simpler and in the end, less effective. Still, several big-name games as of late have opted to support FSR before adding DLSS, or instead of DLSS. Examples include Far Cry 6, Deathloop, Resident Evil Village, and Back 4 Blood. This is likely a result of FSR's less strict requirements and AMD making it open-source, so anyone can potentially implement it.

Seemingly in response, Nvidia has announced it's adding more functionality to its existing image scaler. This isn't DLSS, but rather a simple upscaler similar to FSR that now has an improved sharpening algorithm with a six-tap filter, four directional scaling and adaptive sharpening filters.

Nvidia Image Scaling is activated in the Nvidia control panel under "Manage 3D settings." Once enabled, it'll add five new resolutions selectable via in-game settings menus, based on a percentage of your display's native resolution, from 85 percent down to 50 percent. Notably, the latter isn't available for 1080p monitors.

Once a user selects one of those resolutions with a game in fullscreen mode, Nvidia Image Scaling should upscale from that to the display's native. If a game doesn't support fullscreen, a user can simply use Nvidia Image Scaling to change the resolution of the desktop.

Nvidia Image Scaling even has an in-game overlay that should show the results in real-time. It's done through GeForce Experience, which can also be used to configure Nvidia Image Scaling. Pressing Alt+F3 while playing a game will let you adjust the amount of sharpening while playing and immediately see the difference.

Nvidia even offers its own extensive comparisons between Nvidia Image Scaling, FSR, and DLSS. The company clearly wants developers and players to use DLSS, which comes out looking the best in all the comparison shots. Nvidia Image Scaling, on the other hand, looks very similar to FSR when all three methods are compared in Necromunda: Hired Gun. In the other comparisons, Nvidia seems to group FSR and its Image Scaling together under the name "spatial upscaling."

Like FSR, Nvidia is making Image Scaling open-source, so it could certainly end up being supported on AMD and even Intel's upcoming graphics cards in the future.

Alongside showing off its new scaling tech, Nvidia also announced DLSS' upgrade to DLSS 2.3, which is supposed to improve on some of DLSS' flaws. Games using DLSS are sometimes known to introduce a ghosting effect due to how the feature handles a game's motion vectors. The PC version of Death Stranding is a good example.

Nvidia claims to fix this with DLSS 2.3 to reduce ghosting, pointing out Cyberpunk 2077 as its example. DLSS 2.3 should also improve particle reconstruction, which Nvidia showed off in Doom Eternal.

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Dimitriid

Posts: 2,108   +4,033
This is ok but if they should really expand DLSS support to Pascal since we know a lot of people are stuck in 1050 and 1060 cards or at best 1660 and getting something that supports DLSS 2.0 right now it's prohibitive to the point the tech is pointless.

I know it's probably costly and with very limited scope but hey: If Nvidia wanted to show me they're still interested in gamers and not just selling Ethereum mining devices (Whenever specifically for mining or as part of their "don't ask, don't tell" policy of ignoring the business most of their distributors and AIB partners are doing on the side with miners and regular consumer cards) I'd like some more support for hardware people actually either owns or can conceivable buy like a 1050 which is expensive right now, but manageable.
 

kiwigraeme

Posts: 992   +743
Seems competition is working nicely in this sphere . Hopefully we don't get too much stupid push to 8k in the coming years - Like wealth after a certain point money is weakly correlated with happiness. Likewise resolution becomes less and less important.
Proof - watch a superbly mastered movie in 720p - and a badly mastered one in 8k .
One will drip cinematic, dreamy , atmosphere , gorgeous lightning - the other a high detailed jarring mess .
Another good example is impressionistic paintings - the only purpose for close detail to study painting technique .
In you see a title like "oil painting- City streets - reflections of a rainy night " up-close you know the painting will just look like dabs of different oil colours .

I mean does the GTA trinity look heaps better upscaled with crap AI - and little asset change ?

I more excited Unity brought Weta Special FX - that's where we need the real progress
 

Mr Majestyk

Posts: 1,156   +1,050
Nvidia would be in a strong place with cards that offer both DLSS 2.x and Image scaler. More games will readily adopt Image scaler giving them breathing space while DLSS rolls out slowly. Further FSR and soon Intel's XeSS will be further options available to run on any GPU. From a famine to a feast very quickly. The funny thing is they are all building ridiculous flagships with insane power usage to offer native performance that weaker and cheaper cards with DLSS etc can offer. Why bother with 4090 using 550W. When you have a car that does 0-100 in 3s do you really need to spend 4x as much to get one that does 0-100 in 2.5s?
 

mbk34

Posts: 293   +200
I don't understand why a company would offer something open source that competes with it's own in house product (DLSS). Does it offer developers an easy path to transition to DLSS in the future should they want to? Or are they just spending resources to compete with another open source project FSR which just seems odd to me?
 

Yenega

Posts: 302   +206
I have tried both DLSS and FSR in many games and there's no doubt. DLSS is just better. Version 2.x that is. DLSS 1.0 sucked but sadly FSR is not much better. Both are blurry in comparison to DLSS 2.x

Techpowerup have several comparisons in newer games, with slider. Stating the same thing.

I think AMD needs to completely re-invent FSR using a different approach, like Nvidia did with DLSS. Can they do this without dedicated hardware on board, is the question..
 
Why is no one talking about Radeon Image Sharpening vs Nvidia Image Scaling (RIS vs NIS)? RIS is also universally applicable, it's the obvious competitor but literally no website mentions this. Both FSR and DLSS need specific support from a game before they can be used, RIS and NIS don't.

I enjoyed Witcher 3 with RIS for years (renderend in HD, output in 2K, crisp graphics as far as my taste goes). In seconds applied from driver settings.
 

godrilla

Posts: 432   +210
I don't understand why a company would offer something open source that competes with it's own in house product (DLSS). Does it offer developers an easy path to transition to DLSS in the future should they want to? Or are they just spending resources to compete with another open source project FSR which just seems odd to me?
Just like gsync compatible its royalties.

Nvidia stays true to its fortification dominance.
Notice when open source gets competitive closed source has to compete.
Some blame Nvidia for fortifying its dominance I blame the other 2 for not stepping it up sooner!
Update if not royalties then brand awareness.
 
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Shadowboxer

Posts: 2,073   +1,651
FSR is annoying. In Far Cry 6 we got FSR and reduced RT features because AMD paid the developers to gimp these features so their cards don’t look so bad in benchmarks. This is so disgustingly “anti-consumer” from AMD it makes me sick.

There’s a difference between adding features that only your cards can run than there is to gimping features because your card can’t run them.

If Nvidia had sponsored Far Cry 6 we would have had better ray tracing, DLSS and FSR. All Radeon users would have had to do is dial the RT slider down a couple of notches.