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NVIDIA Under Attack Again for GameWorks in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

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Posted · Original PosterOP

source: http://www.pcper.com/news/Graphics-Cards/NVIDIA-Under-Attack-Again-GameWorks-Witcher-3-Wild-Hunt

Yay more Witcher 3 news about it being bad or something!

 

I feel like every few months I get to write more stories focusing on the exact same subject. It's almost as if nothing in the enthusiast market is happening and thus the cycle continues, taking all of us with it on a wild ride of arguments and valuable debates. Late last week I started hearing from some of my Twitter followers that there were concerns surrounding the upcoming release of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. Then I found a link to this news post over at Overclock3d.net that put some of the information in perspective.

Essentially, The Witcher 3 uses parts of NVIDIA's GameWorks development tools and APIs, software written by NVIDIA to help game developers take advantage of new technologies and to quickly and easily implement them into games. The problem of course is that GameWorks is written and developed by NVIDIA. That means that optimizations for AMD Radeon hardware are difficult or impossible, depending on who you want to believe. Clearly it doesn't benefit NVIDIA to optimize its software for AMD GPUs financially, though many in the community would like NVIDIA to give a better effort - for the good of said community.

Specifically in regards to The Witcher 3, the game implements NVIDIA HairWorks technology to add realism on many of the creatures of the game world. (Actually, the game includes HairWorks, HBAO+, PhysX,  Destruction and Clothing but our current discussion focuses on HairWorks.) All of the marketing and video surrounding The Witcher 3 has been awesome and the realistic animal fur simulation has definitely been a part of it. However, it appears that AMD Radeon GPU users are concerned that performance with HairWorks enabled will suffer.

 

Here's a demo of hairworks in-game

SevereSmoggyKomododragon.gif

 

I went to NVIDIA with these complaints about HairWorks and Brian Burke gave me this response: (shortened by OP)

 

"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. "       

 

The only conclusion I can come to from all of this is that if you don't like what NVIDIA is doing, that's your right - and you aren't necessarily wrong. There will be plenty of readers that see the comments made by NVIDIA above and continue to believe that they are being at best disingenuous and at worst, are straight up lying. As I mentioned above in my own comments NVIDIA is still a for-profit company that is responsible to shareholders for profit and growth. And in today's world that sometimes means working against other companies than with them, resulting in impressive new technologies for its customers and push back from competitor's customers. It's not fun, but that's how it works today.

Fans of AMD will point to G-Sync, GameWorks, CUDA, PhysX, FCAT and even SLI as indications of NVIDIA's negative impact on open PC gaming. I would argue that more users would look at that list and see improvements to PC gaming, progress that helps make gaming on a computer so much better than gaming on a console. The truth likely rests somewhere in the middle; there will always be those individuals that immediately side with one company or the other. But it's the much larger group in the middle, that shows no corporate allegiance and instead just wants to have as much fun as possible with gaming, that will impact NVIDIA and AMD the most.

TL;DR Nvidia's hair simulation tech won't work well with AMD hardware and will cause performance issues for those who turn it on and Nvidia blames AMD for not going to the developer and giving them TressFX

 

The full article is worth the read as PcPer articles usually are. Honestly I don't have much to say about this. I definitely agree with Ryan Shrout that if you don't like what NVidia is doing with game works then you are entitled to your beliefs, but yelling about it isn't going to do much.

 

Also this shouldn't have to be said, but this kind of news always starts an Nvidia  vs AMD battle so

 

 

So, since I know it will happen anyway, use the comments page below to vent your opinion. But, for the benefit of us all, try to keep it civil!
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tl, too small, dr?


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So Nvidia technology for Nvidia GPU's can't be optimized for AMD GPU's and we apparently have a problem with this? What was everyone expecting? Imagine that, a company that makes GPU's made an exclusive technology only for their GPU's... How dare they? :D

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So they're surprised an Nvidia Tech doesnt work with AMD cards...

Logic game to Strong.

 

inb4 this thread turns out like every other thread mentioning gameworks...

Edit: Called it.


Just remember: Random people on the internet ALWAYS know more than professionals, when someone's lying, AND can predict the future.

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sex hahaha

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Nice. I use Nividia :)


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In 1991 Sega successfully sued Nintendo for imposing development restriction on studios developing for the NES. I'm fairly sure AMD could use that as a precedent and at least get GameWorks opened up to their driver teams if not get the bullshit banned entirely. All GW is doing is hurting the industry by segregating users.


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why the fuck is Nvidia under attack for this? just because AMD is too lazy to make fancy hair posible on their GPUs?


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Here's a little quip from a reddit post by user 007sk2 titled "Mark my word if we don't stop the nvidia GameWorks anticompetitive practice you will start to see games that are only exclusive for one GPU over the other"

 

"So I like many of you was disappointed to see poor performance in project cars on AMD hardware. AMD's current top of the like 290X currently performs on the level of a 770/760. Of course, I was suspicious of this performance discrepancy, usually a 290X will perform within a few frames of Nvidia's current high end 970/980, depending on the game. Contemporary racing games all seem to run fine on AMD. So what was the reason for this gigantic performance gap?

Many (including some of you) seemed to want to blame AMD's driver support, a theory that others vehemently disagreed with, given the fact that Project Cars is a title built on the framework of Nvidia GameWorks, Nvidia's proprietary graphics technology for developers. In the past, we've all seen GameWorks games not work as they should on AMD hardware. Indeed, AMD cannot properly optimize for any GameWorks based game- they simply don't have access to any of the code, and the developers are forbidden from releasing it to AMD as well. For more regarding GameWorks, this article from a couple years back gives a nice overview[1]

Now this was enough explanation for me as to why the game was running so poorly on AMD, but recently I found more information that really demonstrated to me the very troubling direction Nvidia is taking with its sponsorship of developers. This thread on the anandtech forums is worth a read, and I'll be quoting a couple posts from it.[2] [2] I strongly recommend everyone reads it before commenting. There are also some good methods in there of getting better performance on AMD cards in Project Cars if you've been having trouble.

Of note are these posts:

The game runs PhysX version 3.2.4.1. It is a CPU based PhysX. Some features of it can be offloaded onto Nvidia GPUs. Naturally AMD can't do this. In Project Cars, PhysX is the main component that the game engine is built around. There is no "On / Off" switch as it is integrated into every calculation that the game engine performs. It does 600 calculations per second to create the best feeling of control in the game. The grip of the tires is determined by the amount of tire patch on the road. So it matters if your car is leaning going into a curve as you will have less tire patch on the ground and subsequently spin out. Most of the other racers on the market have much less robust physics engines. Nvidia drivers are less CPU reliant. In the new DX12 testing, it was revealed that they also have less lanes to converse with the CPU. Without trying to sound like I'm taking sides in some Nvidia vs AMD war, it seems less advanced. Microsoft had to make 3 levels of DX12 compliance to accommodate Nvidia. Nvidia is DX12 Tier 2 compliant and AMD is DX12 Tier 3. You can make their own assumptions based on this. To be exact under DX12, Project Cars AMD performance increases by a minimum of 20% and peaks at +50% performance. The game is a true DX11 title. But just running under DX12 with it's less reliance on the CPU allows for massive performance gains. The problem is that Win 10 / DX12 don't launch until July 2015 according to the AMD CEO leak. Consumers need that performance like 3 days ago! In these videos an alpha tester for Project Cars showcases his Win 10 vs Win 8.1 performance difference on a R9 280X which is a rebadged HD 7970. In short, this is old AMD technology so I suspect that the performance boosts for the R9 290X's boost will probably be greater as it can take advantage of more features in Windows 10. 20% to 50% more in game performance from switching OS is nothing to sneeze at. AMD drivers on the other hand have a ton of lanes open to the CPU. This is why a R9 290X is still relevant today even though it is a full generation behind Nvidia's current technology. It scales really well because of all the extra bells and whistles in the GCN architecture. In DX12 they have real advantages at least in flexibility in programming them for various tasks because of all the extra lanes that are there to converse with the CPU. AMD GPUs perform best when presented with a multithreaded environment. Project Cars is multithreaded to hell and back. The SMS team has one of the best multithreaded titles on the market! So what is the issue? CPU based PhysX is hogging the CPU cycles as evident with the i7-5960X test and not leaving enough room for AMD drivers to operate. What's the solution? DX12 or hope that AMD changes the way they make drivers. It will be interesting to see if AMD can make a "lite" driver for this game. The GCN architecture is supposed to be infinitely programmable according to the slide from Microsoft I linked above. So this should be a worthy challenge for them. Basically we have to hope that AMD can lessen the load that their drivers present to the CPU for this one game. It hasn't happened in the 3 years that I backed, and alpha tested the game. For about a month after I personally requested a driver from AMD, there was new driver and a partial fix to the problem. Then Nvidia requested that a ton of more PhysX effects be added, GameWorks was updated, and that was that... But maybe AMD can pull a rabbit out of the hat on this one too. I certainly hope so.

And this post:

No, in this case there is an entire thread in the Project Cars graphics subforum where we discussed with the software engineers directly about the problems with the game and AMD video cards. SMS knew for the past 3 years that Nvidia based PhysX effects in their game caused the frame rate to tank into the sub 20 fps region for AMD users. It is not something that occurred overnight or the past few months. It didn't creep in suddenly. It was always there from day one. Since the game uses GameWorks, then the ball is in Nvidia's court to optimize the code so that AMD cards can run it properly. Or wait for AMD to work around GameWorks within their drivers. Nvidia is banking on taking months to get right because of the code obfuscation in the GameWorks libraries as this is their new strategy to get more customers. Break the game for the competition's hardware and hope they migrate to them. If they leave the PC Gaming culture then it's fine; they weren't our customers in the first place.

So, in short, the entire Project Cars engine itself is built around a version of PhysX that simply does not work on amd cards. Most of you are probably familiar with past implementations of PhysX, as graphics options that were possible to toggle 'off'. No such option exists for project cars. If you have and AMD GPU, all of the physx calculations are offloaded to the CPU, which murders performance. Many AMD users have reported problems with excessive tire smoke, which would suggest PhysX based particle effects.

These results seem to be backed up by Nvidia users themselves[3] [3] - performance goes in the toilet if they do not have GPU physx turned on. AMD's windows 10 driver benchmarks for Project Cars also shows a fairly significant performance increase, due to a reduction in CPU overhead- more room for PhysX calculations.[4] The worst part? The developers knew this would murder performance on AMD cards, but built their entire engine off of a technology that simply does not work properly with AMD anyway.The game was built from the ground up to favor one hardware company over another.Nvidia also appears to have a previous relationship with the developer.[5]

Equally troubling is Nvidia's treatment of their last generation Kepler cards. Benchmarks indicate that a 960 Maxwell card soundly beats a Kepler 780, and gets VERY close even to a 780ti, a feat which surely doesn't seem possible unless Nvidia is giving special attention to Maxwell.[6] These results simply do not make sense when the specifications of the cards are compared- a 780/780ti should be thrashing a 960.

These kinds of business practices are a troubling trend. Is this the future we want for PC gaming? For one population of users to be entirely segregated from another, intentionally? To me, it seems a very clear cut case of Nvidia not only screwing over other hardware users- but its own as well. I would implore those of you who have cried 'bad drivers' to reconsider this position in light of the evidence posted here. AMD open sources much of its tech, which only stands to benefit everyone. AMD sponsored titles do not gimp performance on other cards. So why is it that so many give Nvidia (and the PCars developer) a free pass for such awful, anti-competitive business practices? Why is this not a bigger deal to more people? I have always been a proponent of buying whatever card offers better value to the end user. This position becomes harder and harder with every anti-consumer business decision Nvidia makes, however. AMD is far from a perfect company, but they have received far, far too much flak from the community in general and even some of you on this particular issue.

original post here[7]"

 

Inb4 every nvidia user on the forum thinks purposeful segregation of the pc game market is a good thing.


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"Whatever AMD is losing in suddenly becomes the most important thing ever." - Glenwing, 1/13/2015

 

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Posted · Original PosterOP

Maybe game studios should just add in tech from both sides, but of course, that can't be done because investors will get mad.. or something.

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Here's a little quip from a reddit post by user 007sk2 titled "Mark my word if we don't stop the nvidia GameWorks anticompetitive practice you will start to see games that are only exclusive for one GPU over the other"

 

A slippery slope fallacy, i'm sure the rest of the wall of text he wrote is really well constructed when he opens up with a fallacy. I will still read it, after food. But i'm sure it's not great.

 

Inb4 every nvidia user on the forum thinks purposeful segregation of the pc game market is a good thing.

 

Glad you're being so unbiased yourself.

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why the fuck is Nvidia under attack for this? just because AMD is too lazy to make fancy hair posible on their GPUs?

 

 

Actually, AMD has a Graphics library called TressFX, which can do things like hair simulation. The problem is that Nvidia doesn't expose the source code, so it's like a "black box" where neither the developer or any competing graphics vendor ( Intel, AMD ) can optimise it for their hardware.

There is no reason for NVidia to do this except to create such situations like this so they have a competitive advantage. And it is only recently that they have changed their libraries in that way. Which I think is a shitbag move. I would love to see an initiative like the Khronos group where all these companies come together to create an open source DX12 and Vulcan Library so shit like this doesn't happen.

I don't have issues with companies competing against eachother, but to do it via methods that lock users into their ecosystem/product is just despicable.

I put the blame on CD Project Red, for incorporating libraries which they know will negatively affect 35% of their userbase. I also put the blame on Nvidia, because they are effectively bribing developers to incorporate their anticompetitive tech. (Gameworks is required to be implemented on an Nvidia Sponsored game)


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A slippery slope fallacy, i'm sure the rest of the wall of text he wrote is really well constructed when he opens up with a fallacy. I will still read it, after food. But i'm sure it's not great.

 

 

Glad you're being so unbiased yourself.

 

 

I'm not unbiased. I'll never claim to be in this matter. I see a closed box like gameworks segregating the pc market purposefully and it does nothing but hurt the community as a whole. I am adamantly against it. I would be adamantly against it even if I ran Nvidia cards. My statement may seem very cynical and blindly bias but the amount of people (on this forum and others) that will basically just say "awesome! I have a nvidia card! AMD should just get good lolololol!" and are apparently 100% ok with them forcing the community into segments is astonishing. 


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"Whatever AMD is losing in suddenly becomes the most important thing ever." - Glenwing, 1/13/2015

 

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Why is GameWorks getting bashed so hard continuously? Because of the lack of a competing AMD API pretty much. Seriously???


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Why is GameWorks getting bashed so hard continuously? Because of the lack of a competing AMD API pretty much. Seriously???

 

Because its purposefully and segmenting the pc gaming community with its black box code? Causing performance anomalies in multiple games ranging from a chunk of the market not being able to play the game to even more silly things like the 960 beating the 780 in benchmarks that include it? The whole think is muddy and horribly for the community as a whole. 

 

1080p_Clear.png

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"Whatever AMD is losing in suddenly becomes the most important thing ever." - Glenwing, 1/13/2015

 

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why the fuck is Nvidia under attack for this? just because AMD is too lazy to make fancy hair posible on their GPUs?

AMD has their own hair fidelity stuff, it's called TressFX. Besides, how are they supposed to supply AMD technology in a Nvidia GameWorks title?

Did you even read the article before posting? /facepalm 


Born to game, forced to work.  -_-

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I'm not unbiased. I'll never claim to be in this matter. I see a closed box like gameworks segregating the pc market purposefully and it does nothing but hurt the community as a whole. I am adamantly against it. I would be adamantly against it even if I ran Nvidia cards. My statement may seem very cynical and blindly bias but the amount of people (on this forum and others) that will basically just say "awesome! I have a nvidia card! AMD should just get good lolololol!" and are apparently 100% ok with them forcing the community into segments is astonishing. 

Indeed. It's been noticeable in other topics regarding Nvidia and their Gameworks titles, "I own gtx card so it's all good". It's a very short sighted point of view.


Born to game, forced to work.  -_-

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Indeed. It's been noticeable in other topics regarding Nvidia and their Gameworks titles, "I own gtx card so it's all good". It's a very short sighted point of view.

It's not exactly a good thing, but it's also not a reason to go "Nvidia is the Satan of gaming! Die GameWorks! Hail AMD!"


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.....why doesn't AMD just come up with their own equivalent of gameworks?

 

Or was that essentially what Mantle was?

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It's not exactly a good thing, but it's also not a reason to go "Nvidia is the Satan of gaming! Die GameWorks! Hail AMD!"

I have nothing against Gameworks as an idea. The fact that its behind a black wall and extremely anti-consumer should however, die in a goddamn fire. 


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"Whatever AMD is losing in suddenly becomes the most important thing ever." - Glenwing, 1/13/2015

 

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.....why doesn't AMD just come up with their own equivalent of gameworks?

 

Or was that essentially what Mantle was?

Fighting market segmentation with more market segmentation is one of the worst thing AMD could possibly ever do. And it goes completely against everything open that AMD has done.


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"Whatever AMD is losing in suddenly becomes the most important thing ever." - Glenwing, 1/13/2015

 

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Equally troubling is Nvidia's treatment of their last generation Kepler cards. Benchmarks indicate that a 960 Maxwell card soundly beats a Kepler 780, and gets VERY close even to a 780ti, a feat which surely doesn't seem possible unless Nvidia is giving special attention to Maxwell.[6] These results simply do not make sense when the specifications of the cards are compared- a 780/780ti should be thrashing a 960.

 

This means that when eventually a new series of nvidia cards comes out, performance will be artificially lowered to push me onto the new platform? That's pretty bullshit. gg nvidia

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I'm not unbiased. I'll never claim to be in this matter. I see a closed box like gameworks segregating the pc market purposefully and it does nothing but hurt the community as a whole. I am adamantly against it. I would be adamantly against it even if I ran Nvidia cards. My statement may seem very cynical and blindly bias but the amount of people (on this forum and others) that will basically just say "awesome! I have a nvidia card! AMD should just get good lolololol!" and are apparently 100% ok with them forcing the community into segments is astonishing. 

 

Why does it hurt the community as a whole? That sounds more like your personal projection, rathar than the voice of the community. If gameworks means better visuals in games, I hardly think anyone would be against that. The problem that it doesn't run well on AMD graphics cards, is yet to be blamed on nvidia in a constructive manner. I'm personally more looking at the developers for not making the gameworks software and their own engine mutually exclusive, and/or AMD for not wanting to pitch in. I feel like AMD is burning too many bridges, and we somehow have to feel sorry for them. 

 

I agree that it's annoying people saying "i own GTX, therefor i don't care". But don't take those people as an example when you're comdeming this whole forum. But to be honest, I think people just say that to get a rise out of people (like you).

 

 

I have nothing against Gameworks as an idea. The fact that its behind a black wall and extremely anti-consumer should however, die in a goddamn fire. 

 
I'm sorry but you're the one being anti-consumer here. You're not willing to let the consumer decide for themselves, and somehow make digital rights protection blasphemy, when it's just a company protecting their assets behind a royalty and an NDA for obvious reasons. If you don't understand why nvidia doesn't disclose gameworks, you're basically telling us that Coca-Cola should just let every random copy-cat coke producer have their formula.
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Fighting market segmentation with more market segmentation is one of the worst thing AMD could possibly ever do. And it goes completely against everything open that AMD has done.

I guess, but what's the alternative?

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