AMD has unveiled the evolution of its Freesync technology, which now goes far beyond the adjustment of vertical synchronization to adapt to a variable frame rate per second.
High dynamic range or HDR is making its way, first in high-end 4K TVs and, little by little, it is reaching PC monitors. Some video on demand services such as Netflix or Amazon already offer some content compatible with this format that, broadly speaking, allows a better range of luminances between the light and dark areas of a scene, which makes it more realistic. The most widespread opinion among users who have UHD-BluRay compatible players, discs and televisions agree that, more than the increase in resolution to 3840×2160 (four times more than Full-HD), it is the HDR that really marks the differences between a scene displayed in a conventional BluRay movie and another in 4K and HDR.
Both NVIDIA and AMD are betting on bringing HDR to the PC world, and in the case of the latter, it will come hand in hand with its Freesync 2 technology. We would be very surprised if the next batch of high-end virtual reality headsets did not include HDR-compatible screens, which would allow for much more realistic scenes. But the benefits of the new version of Freesync include an interesting contribution: the reduction of latency when mapping color tones. Up to now, 3D engines had to render each frame, set the color tones (although our monitor is not HDR, the majority of the motors used internally), and finally pass it to the driver of the graphics card, which is responsible for sending it on the monitor with more or less efficiency, as the driver must still make some adjustments and the result is not always optimal, since the monitor has no way of reporting their capabilities of brightness, contrast and color to the GPU driver. This means that almost always the image that is sent has to be processed by the screen itself to adapt it to the exact capabilities of its panel before showing it to the user.
With Freesync 2, the monitor will be able to report in full detail of its capabilities, so that the tone mapping can be performed completely on the GPU, and that will help to reduce latency even more, the famous “motion to photon”, that is, the time it takes to draw a frame per screen since the game engine processes it and sends it to the driver, since the screen will not have to process anything. This would make it possible to enjoy virtual reality experiences with a much richer color range and a high frame rate per second without latency being affected by it. Although 2017 has only just begun and we haven’t had our commercial virtual reality headsets for a year yet, we can’t help but look into the future and imagine the possibilities that virtual reality will offer us with the next technological advances, and there is no doubt that HDR can be one of the most interesting, since it will allow us to enjoy sensations much more credible and close to the behavior of light in the real world.