AMD PowerPlay

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AMD PowerPlay
Design firmAdvanced Micro Devices
Typedynamic frequency scaling

AMD PowerPlay is the brand name for a set of technologies for the reduction of the energy consumption implemented in several of AMD's graphics processing units and APUs supported by their proprietary graphics device driver "Catalyst". AMD PowerPlay is also implemented into ATI/AMD chipsets which integrated graphics and into AMD's Imageon handheld chipset, that was sold to Qualcomm in 2008.

Besides the desirable goal to reduce energy consumption, AMD PowerPlay helps to lower the noise levels created by the cooling in desktop computers and extend battery life in mobile devices. AMD PowerPlay has been succeeded by AMD PowerTune.[1]


The technology was first implemented in Mobility Radeon products for notebooks, to provide a set of features to lower the power consumption of the laptop computer. The technology consists of several technologies; examples include dynamic clock adjustments when the notebook is not plugged into a power socket and allowing different backlight brightness levels of the notebook LCD monitor. The technology was updated with the release of each generation of mobile GPUs. The latest release is ATI PowerPlay 7.0.[2]

Since the release of Radeon HD 3000 Series, PowerPlay was implemented to further reduce the power consumption of desktop GPUs.

Currently supported products[edit]

The official ATI support list[3] lists only the ATI Radeon 3800 series desktop cards, but PowerPlay is also a listed feature of all Radeon HD 3000/4000/5000 series products. Independent reviews indicated that the latter was already lower power compared to other 3D cards, so the addition of PowerPlay to that line was clearly intended to address an increasingly power, heat and noise conscious market. The ATI Radeon HD 2600 line - which does not support PowerPlay - was being phased out in favour of the 3000 series at the same price points that also support PCI Express 2.0, DirectX 10.1 and faster GDDR3 memory.

The entire ATI Radeon Xpress line is also supported for single board computers which tend to be power sensitive and used in large installations where configuration and boot image control are major concerns.

Support for "PowerPlay" was added to the Linux kernel driver "amdgpu" on November 11, 2015.[4]

Desktop versus laptop[edit]

The main difference between the desktop and laptop versions is that the desktop version cuts the features which are aimed at notebook usage, including variable LCD backlight brightness. The PowerPlay technology for Radeon desktop graphics features three usage scenarios: normal mode (2D mode), light gaming mode and intensive gaming mode (3D mode), replacing notebook scenarios (running on AC power or battery power). Tests indicated that the lowest core clock frequency of an RV670 GPU core can reach as low as 300 MHz with PowerPlay technology enabled.[5]

Feature overview for AMD APUs[edit]

Brand Llano Trinity Richland Kaveri Carrizo Bristol Ridge Raven Ridge Desna, Ontario, Zacate Kabini, Temash Beema, Mullins Carrizo-L Stoney Ridge
Platform Desktop, Mobile Ultra-mobile
Released Aug 2011 Oct 2012 Jun 2013 Jan 2014 Jun 2015 Jun 2016 Oct 2017 Jan 2011 May 2013 Q2 2014 May 2015 June 2016
Fab. (nm) GlobalFoundries 32 SOI GlobalFoundries 28 SHP GlobalFoundries 14LPP TSMC 40 28
die area (mm2) 228 246 245 244.62 250.04 210[6] 75 (+ 28 FCH) ~107 TBA 125
Socket FM1, FS1 FM2, FS1+, FP2 FM2+, FP3 FM2+[a], FP4 AM4, FP4 FT1 AM1, FT3 FT3b FP4
CPU µArch K10 Piledriver Steamroller Excavator Zen Bobcat Jaguar Puma Puma+[7] Excavator
Memory support DDR3 DDR4 DDR3L DDR4
3D engine[b] TeraScale (VLIW5) TeraScale (VLIW4) GCN 2nd GCN 3rd GCN 5th Gen[8] TeraScale (VLIW5) GCN 2nd Gen GCN 3rd Gen[8]
Up to 400:20:8 Up to 384:24:6 Up to 512:32:8 Up to 704:44:16[9] 80:8:4 128:8:4 Up to 192:?:?
Video Decoder UVD 3.0 UVD 4.2 UVD 6.0 VCN 1.0[10] UVD 3.0 UVD 4.0 UVD 4.2 UVD 6.0 UVD 6.3
Video Encoding N/A VCE 1.0 VCE 2.0 VCE 3.1 N/A VCE 2.0 VCE 3.1
GPU power saving PowerPlay PowerTune N/A PowerTune[11]
Max. displays[c] 2–3 2–4 2–4 3 4 TBA 2 TBA TBA
TrueAudio N/A Yes[13] N/A TBA
FreeSync N/A version 1 and 2 N/A TBA
HDCP[d] ? 1.4 1.4
? 1.4
/drm/radeon[e][14][15] Yes N/A Yes N/A
/drm/amdgpu[e][16] N/A Yes[17] Yes N/A Yes[17] Yes
  1. ^ APU models: A8-7680, A6-7480. CPU only: Athlon X4 845.
  2. ^ Unified shaders : texture mapping units : render output units
  3. ^ To feed more than two displays, the additional panels must have native DisplayPort support.[12] Alternatively active DisplayPort-to-DVI/HDMI/VGA adapters can be employed.
  4. ^ To play protected video content, it also requires card, operating system, driver, and application support. A compatible HDCP display is also needed for this. HDCP is mandatory for the output of certain audio formats, placing additional constraints on the multimedia setup.
  5. ^ a b DRM (Direct Rendering Manager) is a component of the Linux kernel. Support in this table refers to the most current version.

Feature overview for AMD graphics cards[edit]

The following table shows features of Radeon-branded GPU microarchitectures.

R100 R200 R300 R400 R500 R600 RV670 R700 Evergreen Northern
Released Apr 2000 Aug 2001 Sep 2002 May 2004 Oct 2005 May 2007 Nov 2007 Jun 2008 Sep 2009 Oct 2010 Jan 2012 Sep 2013 Jun 2015 Jun 2016 Jun 2017
AMD support Ended Current
Instruction set Not publicly known TeraScale instruction set GCN instruction set
Microarchitecture TeraScale 1 (VLIW5) TeraScale 2 (VLIW5) TeraScale 3 (VLIW4) GCN 1st gen GCN 2nd gen GCN 3rd gen GCN 4th gen GCN 5th gen
Type Fixed pipeline[a] Programmable pixel & vertex pipelines Unified shader model
Direct3D 7.0 8.1 9.0
11 (9_2)
11 (9_2)
11 (9_3)
11 (10_0)
11 (10_1)
11 (11_0) 11 (11_1)
12 (11_1)
11 (12_0)
12 (12_0)
11 (12_1)
12 (12_1)
Shader model N/A 1.4 2.0+ 2.0b 3.0 4.0 4.1 5.0 5.1
OpenGL 1.3 2.0[b] 3.3 4.4[c] 4.6 (Linux 4.5+)
Vulkan N/A Linux Mesa 17+
Win 7+: 1.0
OpenCL N/A Close to Metal 1.1 1.2 2.0 Windows 7+ Adrenalin (1.2 in Linux, 2.0 and 2.1 WIP mostly in Linux ROCm)
Power saving ? PowerPlay PowerTune PowerTune & ZeroCore Power
Video decoder ASIC N/A Avivo/UVD UVD+ UVD 2 UVD 2.2 UVD 3 UVD 4 UVD 4.2 UVD 5.0 or 6.0 UVD 6.3 UVD 7[18][d]
Video encoding ASIC N/A VCE 1.0 VCE 2.0 VCE 3.0 or 3.1 VCE 3.4 VCE 4.0[18][d]
TrueAudio N/A Via dedicated DSP Via shaders
FreeSync N/A 1
HDCP[e] ? 1.4 1.4
PlayReady[e] N/A 3.0
Max. displays[f] 1–2 2 2–6
Max. resolution ? 2–6 × 2560×1600 2–6 × 4096×2160 @ 60 Hz 2–6 × 5120×2880 @ 60 Hz 3 × 7680×4320 @ 60 Hz[19]
/drm/radeon[g] Yes N/A
/drm/amdgpu[g] N/A Experimental[20] Yes
  1. ^ The Radeon 100 Series has programmable pixel shaders, but do not fully comply with DirectX 8 or Pixel Shader 1.0. See article on R100's pixel shaders.
  2. ^ These series do not fully comply with OpenGL 2+ as the hardware does not support all types of non power of two (NPOT) textures.
  3. ^ OpenGL 4+ compliance requires supporting FP64 shaders and these are emulated on some TeraScale chips using 32-bit hardware.
  4. ^ a b The UVD and VCE were replaced by the Video Core Next (VCN) ASIC in the Raven Ridge APU implementation of Vega.
  5. ^ a b To play protected video content, it also requires card, operating system, driver, and application support. A compatible HDCP display is also needed for this. HDCP is mandatory for the output of certain audio formats, placing additional constraints on the multimedia setup.
  6. ^ More displays may be supported with native DisplayPort connections, or splitting the maximum resolution between multiple monitors with active converters.
  7. ^ a b DRM (Direct Rendering Manager) is a component of the Linux kernel. Support in this table refers to the most current version.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "AMD PowerTune vs PowerPlay" (pdf). AMD. 2010-12-01.
  2. ^ Marco Chiappetta (10 September 2009). "ATI Radeon HD 4670, Redefining The Mainstream". Retrieved 10 December 2018.
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-01-30. Retrieved 2017-08-23.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ "Add amdgpu powerplay support". 2015-11-11.
  5. ^ PC Watch image. Retrieved December 3, 2007. Notice the core speed in current clock settings section in gray.
  6. ^ "The Mobile CPU Comparison Guide Rev. 13.0 Page 5 : AMD Mobile CPU Full List". Retrieved 13 December 2017.
  7. ^ "AMD Mobile "Carrizo" Family of APUs Designed to Deliver Significant Leap in Performance, Energy Efficiency in 2015" (Press release). 2014-11-20. Retrieved 2015-02-16.
  8. ^ a b "AMD VEGA10 and VEGA11 GPUs spotted in OpenCL driver". Retrieved 6 June 2017.
  9. ^ Cutress, Ian (1 February 2018). "Zen Cores and Vega: Ryzen APUs for AM4 - AMD Tech Day at CES: 2018 Roadmap Revealed, with Ryzen APUs, Zen+ on 12nm, Vega on 7nm". Anandtech. Retrieved 7 February 2018.
  10. ^ Larabel, Michael (17 November 2017). "Radeon VCN Encode Support Lands In Mesa 17.4 Git". Phoronix. Retrieved 20 November 2017.
  11. ^ Tony Chen; Jason Greaves, "AMD's Graphics Core Next (GCN) Architecture" (PDF), AMD, retrieved 2016-08-13
  12. ^ "How do I connect three or More Monitors to an AMD Radeon™ HD 5000, HD 6000, and HD 7000 Series Graphics Card?". AMD. Retrieved 2014-12-08.
  13. ^ "A technical look at AMD's Kaveri architecture". Semi Accurate. Retrieved 6 July 2014.
  14. ^ Airlie, David (2009-11-26). "DisplayPort supported by KMS driver mainlined into Linux kernel 2.6.33". Retrieved 2016-01-16.
  15. ^ "Radeon feature matrix". Retrieved 2016-01-10.
  16. ^ Deucher, Alexander (2015-09-16). "XDC2015: AMDGPU" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-01-16.
  17. ^ a b Michel Dänzer (2016-11-17). "[ANNOUNCE] xf86-video-amdgpu 1.2.0".
  18. ^ a b Killian, Zak (22 March 2017). "AMD publishes patches for Vega support on Linux". Tech Report. Retrieved 23 March 2017.
  19. ^ "Radeon's next-generation Vega architecture" (PDF). Radeon Technologies Group (AMD). 13 June 2017.
  20. ^ Larabel, Michael (7 December 2016). "The Best Features Of The Linux 4.9 Kernel". Phoronix. Retrieved 7 December 2016.

External links[edit]