Valve's work on Radeon's implementation of variable rate shading saves battery life on...

Daniel Sims

Posts: 452   +18
Staff
Why it matters: Someone at Valve recently published an update on how Vulkan on Radeon graphics cards handles VRS to save power. Although the update is for the Steam Deck, it could also benefit PCs.

Valve's Samuel Pitoiset has been changing the Radeon Vulkan (RADV) driver to offer more control over how variable rate shading (VRS) works. Phoronix notes that the higher degree of control might relate to whether a Steam Deck is running on its battery or connected to AC.

Microsoft introduced VRS to DirectX 12 in 2019 as a performance-saving feature. Essentially it can make a game render different parts of the screen with varying levels of clarity and precision depending on how important they are. Someone playing a racing game isn’t necessarily looking at the scenery or the sky most of the time, so VRS might make a game spend less effort on the pixels in those areas than the car, cockpit, or the road.

The feature is supposed to save performance on pixels players won’t notice, like things covered up by motion blur or pure black pixels inside shadows. Something like that could be critical for a portable PC running on batteries, like the Steam Deck.

Pitoiset’s changes make dynamic scaling of VRS rates possible, and now that rate can be written to a new configuration file. The Steam Deck’s AMD Van Gogh APU will enable this by default. While Pitoiset confirmed the change is meant to save power, Phoronix speculates this could allow the VRS rate to change between different settings when the Steam Deck is on AC or battery power. Theoretically, this could also have results for other AMD devices running Vulkan applications.

Late last summer, Valve and AMD collaborated on a new Linux CPU driver for better performance. Any Zen 2 PC could benefit from it. Around the same time, Valve announced changes to the Steam Big Picture user interface designed for the Steam Deck but will also apply to full PCs.

Steam Decks start shipping on February 28.

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Geralt

Posts: 1,126   +1,740
They delay to launch that crap as if they were launching the James Webb telescope. Valve is so slow always. Still waiting for HL3.
 

Sausagemeat

Posts: 1,597   +1,421
The steam deck has an X86 based CPU and GPU on an LCD. It’s going to have an awful battery life. But then the thing is so big and heavy I really don’t see it as a fully mobile device anyway.

I think there’s some scope for in home streaming. My gaming rig is in my room. But with a steam deck I could sit downstairs with my housemates and continue to play via steam link. Although I’d rather it had a 1080p OLED and it didn’t cost £400+
 

Puiu

Posts: 5,549   +4,511
TechSpot Elite
The steam deck has an X86 based CPU and GPU on an LCD. It’s going to have an awful battery life. But then the thing is so big and heavy I really don’t see it as a fully mobile device anyway.

I think there’s some scope for in home streaming. My gaming rig is in my room. But with a steam deck I could sit downstairs with my housemates and continue to play via steam link. Although I’d rather it had a 1080p OLED and it didn’t cost £400+
If they ever make a second generation then I can see it being upgraded to microled displays.

If you are going to be using it for streaming your games then the battery life might not be that bad once you turn off the display.
 

Geralt

Posts: 1,126   +1,740
The only reason you are angry about "that crap" is because you can feel that everybody is hyped about it and that publications have only praises for it so far.
Crap because it's a little thing. I am accustomed to play at 4K with powerful PC. I hate consoles and more if they are smaller like this deck. By the way, I hate to play with my phone.
 

Puiu

Posts: 5,549   +4,511
TechSpot Elite
Crap because it's a little thing. I am accustomed to play at 4K with powerful PC. I hate consoles and more if they are smaller like this deck. By the way, I hate to play with my phone.
Ah yes, the good old "I have a beast of a PC so everything else sucks" excuse. Man, you sure showed us why it is bad, we are sorry for doubting your enlightened words.
It must be fun to carry your PC in bed to play or to carry it on a train together with your monitor (that car battery lasts a whole day, much more than that crappy Valve mobile console)
 
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dangh

Posts: 576   +913
Crap because it's a little thing. I am accustomed to play at 4K with powerful PC. I hate consoles and more if they are smaller like this deck. By the way, I hate to play with my phone.
I have 6900xt, 5600x, lg 38gn950 and what worse ps5. And steam deck pre-order, because this is an excellent device to play pc games on the go, psp games on the go, and switch games on the go. And do many other stuff, as it have a proper os inside.
I don't hate things, in simply interested in then or not. If something match my use case then it's for me. If not, I do not comment crap on it unless somehow it is going negatively affect my stuff.