GDC 2010: AMD Launches Yet Another Brand

Alex Castle

AMD really is kicking sand in their competitor’s face in the graphics business, but they dipped into their marketing bag for an old trick at the annual Game Developer Conference: developing a vague branding strategy, complete with logo. At a presentation where the company featured guest speakers from leading game companies, AMD discussed its commitment to developer relations. At the end, they rolled out a new brand: AMD Gaming Evolved.

“AMD Gaming Evolved” is a catch-all brand that is “a reflection of our ongoing commitment to gamers.” It’s as if AMD’s eventual goal is to cover the entire surface of your PC with stickers with AMD logos.

The 90-minute presentation wasn’t entirely bereft of content, however. The most interesting bits were from the game developers themselves, talking about their experiences with DirectX 11 and Eyefinity, AMD’s multi-display technology. Chris Taylor from Gas Powered Games talked about the process of adding Eyefinity support to their latest release, Supreme Commander 2. “It took us longer to hook up the displays than it took to write the code,” he joked.

In fact, there was a little more to it than that. It’s easy enough to write to one large surface, but Gas Powered Games went a little further, developing an Eyefinity-aware user interface that would be smart enough to move side menus onto an actual screen instead of spreading it across a monitor bezel, and putting the main UI bar on the center display. Supreme Commander 2 will even work in multimonitor mode, with one surface working with an Eyefinity group of, say, two displays, and the third display behaving a separate display, ala the original Supreme Commander.

Taylor also mentioned performance, noting how the Radeon HD 5870 could run on three displays with hundreds of units, and yet still hit that magical 60 frames per second.

Chris Kingsley of Rebellion talked about adding in DirectX 11 support to their latest title, the PC version of Aliens versus Predator. AvP supports DirectX 11’s hardware tessellation feature, creating geometry on the fly to add detail to the creatures in the game. The game also supports more robust shadowing, enabling more realistic and spookier environments in the game.

Next up was Kevin O’Leary from EA/DICE. O’Leary is the product manager for Battlefield: Bad Company 2. The original game in the series was console only, but DICE developed a PC capable version of the Frostbite game engine, including enabling DirectX 11. O’Leary talked up dynamic soft shadows, particularly for some of the jungle scenes, as well as support for the 3 x 1 Eyefinity mode.

Richard Huddy, long time ISV relations manager for AMD brought up an interesting case study revolving around the development of GSC’s S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky. The original title in the series, Shadows over Chernobyl, supported DirectX 9. AMD devoted engineering resources to help bring Clear Sky to DirectX 10 and, later, 10.1. In the process, the game actually ended up running better on Nvidia hardware as well. The goal, according to Huddy, was to improve the game, not shut out a competitor.

AMD took the time to announce support for a pair of open source initiatives. The first is increased support for Bullet Physics, and open source physics library. AMD worked with the development team to make sure Bullet Physics had libraries that worked with both OpenCL and Microsoft’s DirectCompute 11. AMD also rolled out an open standards effort for stereoscopic 3D, pledging to work with all possible methods for generating stereoscopic vision and co-operating closely with 3D LCD panel makers, glasses makers and other infrastructure companies. AMD also noted that it planned on allowing 3D to work with Eyefinity multipanel setups.

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