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AMD could be working on variable rate shading for its Navi graphics cards

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A patent filing by AMD from 2017 has just been published online, and it suggests that the company is working on implementing variable rate shading (VRS) to its upcoming Navi graphics cards.

Variable rate shading is one of the headline features of Nvidia’s latest Turing series of graphics cards, and the patent (opens in new tab) apparently reveals that AMD is not too far behind its competitor with adding the feature.

If the patent, which was shared on Twitter by user 0x22h (opens in new tab), is accurate, it means VRS is likely to come to future AMD graphics cards, such as its next-generation 7nm GPU Navi architecture

It’s also rumored that AMD will be making the CPUs in the next-generation Xbox and PS5, so we could see VRS used for those consoles as well.

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What is variable rate shading?

The fact that AMD is also potentially working on adding variable rate sharing to its upcoming GPUs is an exciting prospect. The demands placed on graphics cards are rising thanks to increases in resolutions, with 4K screens becoming more popular, and even 8K monitors beginning to come to market.

Because 4K is four times the resolution of 1080p, even modern graphics cards are struggling to cope with that extra workload. 

With VRS, developers can use the technology to make the most out of the hardware, with the GPU able to identify areas in a frame that need to be rendered in full detail (usually directly in the center of the screen, where you’ll be mainly looking), while reducing the detail of other parts of the frame where you’re less likely to notice.

The idea is that variable rate shading can cleverly choose where to focus the rendering power of the GPU without compromising image quality, and can lead to substantial performance boosts.

With Nvidia – and hopefully AMD in the future – both supporting VRS, it should make the tech more attractive to games developers, and we could see better gaming performance at ultra-high resolutions.

Via Tom’s Hardware (opens in new tab)

Matt Hanson
Matt Hanson


Matt is TechRadar's Managing Editor for Computing and Entertainment, looking after two of the best, and most exciting, channels on the site. Having written for a number of publications such as PC Plus, PC Format, T3 and Linux Format, there's no aspect of technology that Matt isn't passionate about, especially computing and PC gaming. Ever since he got an Amiga A500+ for Christmas in 1991, he's loved using (and playing on) computers, and will talk endlessly about how The Secret of Monkey Island is the best game ever made. He's also a huge film and TV fan and Marvel geek, and his favorite recent film is Dune.