AMD adds beta support for hardware-accelerated GPU scheduling in Windows 10

Support for hardware-accelerated GPU scheduling is now starting to form at the driver level, with both Nvidia and AMD rolling out drivers that green light the feature, leaving Intel as the last player yet to add support. While we don’t currently know what impact hardware-accelerated GPU scheduling will have, it’s likely a more forward looking feature for now, that will take time and development resources to make the most of.
For the last few weeks, there has been a low key buzz around the hardware-accelerated GPU scheduling feature that was added to Windows 10 via version 2004, or the May 2020 update, if you prefer. Specifically, support for hardware-accelerated GPU scheduling comes by way of Microsoft’s Windows Display Driver Model (WDDM) 2.7, which is also aimed at improving support and performance for multi-monitor setups.

The problem at the time, however, is that when Microsoft dropped the May 2020 update and outlined support for GPU scheduling, none of the GPU vendors — that is, Nvidia, AMD, or Intel — supported it. Nvidia rectified its lack of support just last week with its newest driver package, the GeForce Game Ready 451.48 WHQL driver. That driver package also fleshes out support for Microsoft’s rebranded DirectX 12 Ultimate API, which supports a number of graphical features that Microsoft will be trying to unify across platforms, such as PC and the Xbox Series X, for instance.

Now AMD is following suit and enabling support for hardware-accelerated GPU scheduling with its latest Adrenalin 2020 Edition 20.5.1 Beta driver package. Or at least preliminary support, as these drivers are still in beta. Hardware-accelerated GPU scheduling appears to be the main highlight with this driver package though, and AMD says “By moving scheduling responsibilities from software into hardware, this feature has the potential to improve GPU responsiveness and to allow additional innovation in GPU workload management in the future.”

AMD also notes that for the time being, support is limited to the Radeon RX 5600 and Radeon RX 5700 series GPUs. This also means that the RX 5600M and RX 5700M mobile variants are supported as well. It looks like the RX 5500 series and Vega-based GPUs will have to wait for a mainline release.

On the surface, it seems AMD isn’t over promising with hardware-accelerated GPU scheduling at the moment. However, through future development, the feature could start to have a big impact. Hardware-accelerated GPU scheduling allows the GPU to manage its own VRAM, rather than having it managed by the OS — Windows, in this case.

With the GPU managing its own VRAM, you eliminate a certain amount of latency and overhead, which could theoretically lead to performance improvements. Again, that will depend on how well the feature is leveraged and developed for, but it looks like these drivers are laying the groundwork.