Radeon Overlay Is Similar To A Feature Mesa Offered For Years

Written by Michael Larabel in Radeon on 13 December 2017 at 06:28 AM EST. 6 Comments
With yesterday's release of the Radeon Software Adrenalin driver for Windows, it actually picks up a feature that is roughly similar to something the open-source Radeon driver stack - and all of the Mesa's Gallium3D drivers for that matter - have offered for years.

During the press briefings last week, triumphed as one of the big new features in the Radeon Software Windows driver update was Radeon Overlay... It's like the Gallium HUD. For those wondering about this Radeon Overlay Windows feature:

Basically it provides an overlay/heads-up-display to show via the driver the current frame-rates while gaming and other performance vitals... It's just like the Gallium HUD that's been available to Mesa users since back in 2013. (Granted, Windows users could roughly have similar informational overlays outside of their driver with tools like FRAPS reported to offer similar functionality.)

The Gallium HUD supports display an overlay of a wealth of different options from frame-rate information to vRAM data to various thermal sensors and dozen more possible options. The Gallium HUD is also very customizable for displaying of information and customizing the graphs.

But... Radeon Overlay is much more featureful than Gallium HUD. Radeon Overlay not only allows displaying of information but via this overlay gamers can toggle FreeSync, adjust color settings, and adjust other tunables all from this in-game overlay without having to alt-tab or leave the game/application. Radeon Overlay also supports Vulkan applications in addition to OpenGL while Gallium HUD currently only supports OpenGL programs. The usability is also better in being able to visually adjust the Radeon Overlay and activate it via a key sequence, rather than having to learn the semantics of the GALLIUM_HUD environment variable and its many intricacies around sensors strings, graph formatting, etc. And the overlay visuals also look outright better than the Gallium HUD.

AMD has not commented on whether they plan to bring Radeon Overlay to their proprietary Linux driver components, but it's doubtable right now considering other Radeon Software features - including the Radeon Software Settings area - are currently not available with AMDGPU-PRO. But with the Radeon Linux drivers now performing (or even outperforming) the Windows OpenGL/Vulkan drivers and other missing gaps being filled in the Linux driver support, it will be interesting to see if the attention turns to these missing features and if there will be any other areas of friendly competition for innovation between the Windows and Linux drivers.
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Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 20,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter, LinkedIn, or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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