As 2018 winds down, once again it’s time for AMD’s annual major feature update for their graphics drivers, Radeon Software. Going by the unassuming title of ‘Radeon Software Adrenalin 2019 Edition’, today’s release is more of an evolution on last year’s Adrenalin Edition, bringing improvements and further integrations with AMD Link and Radeon Overlay. The headlining feature is the new capability to game stream to a mobile device or VR headset, powered by ReLive and AMD Link. AMD is also addressing highly-demanded user requests as collected on their feature voting and feedback page, now checkmarking 7 out of the top 10 requests.

Additionally, Adrenalin 2019 Edition 18.12.2 also brings WattMan overclocking/undervolting profile presets, WattMan controls in AMD Link and Radeon Overlay, ReLive improvements for streamers, and ‘Radeon Advisors’, the latter which are new game/settings optimization tools for entry-level users.

For those just catching up, AMD’s cadence of an annual ‘big bang’ driver update started back in 2014 with Catalyst Omega, following up with the introduction of Radeon Software in 2015 and its inaugural Crimson Edition, and subsequent yearly updates with Crimson ReLive Edition in 2016 and Adrenalin Edition in 2017.

This contemporary approach has hotfixes and performance updates occur throughout the year, punctuated by large feature updates and overhauls, with an overall emphasis on user experience (UX) and quality assurance.

The consistency of the UX is clearer with the latest discrete GPUs, but the same couldn't be said of AMD’s APU offerings. On that note, recent complaints on the status of outdated Ryzen Mobile drivers led AMD to release a statement on the matter. Adrenalin 2019 Edition doesn’t bring any changes on that front, and AMD has nothing to add to their original statement.

The new developments are however far from being irrelevant, as these annual feature updates, better zero-day game support, and cited stability metrics began as a move to stave off from the reputation of older AMD/ATI drivers. More directly, a consistent UX presumably also incorporates mobile APUs as well, especially since OEM vendors would have little interest in being involved in that aspect. A meaningful percentage of mainstream users will continue to have their experience with AMD drivers solely dictated by OEMs and without the ability to leverage AMD’s improvements in their driver development strategy.

Elsewhere, there’s no official updates on Radeon support for hardware-accelerated DirectX Raytracing, but with NVIDIA’s recent launch of Turing-based GeForce RTX series, it’s a topical theme.

Looking forward, there will be increased competition in the GPU space, and a lot of AMD’s incumbent advantages will be in software/driver maturity as well as feature support. With Adrenalin and now the Adrenalin 2019 Edition, there’s been a good deal of increased emphasis on streaming/social uses and mobile devices, and over the coming pages we’ll be taking a look at the specifics of each of the new features.

Adrenalin 2019 Improvements (1): WattMan and Performance
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  • evernessince - Friday, December 14, 2018 - link

    Many laptops use custom hardware so reference drivers will only work for models that use reference products. You should read the disclaimer Nvidia puts for it's mobile drivers

    "As part of the NVIDIA Notebook Driver Program, this is a reference driver that can be installed on supported NVIDIA notebook GPUs. However, please note that your notebook original equipment manufacturer (OEM) provides certified drivers for your specific notebook on their website. NVIDIA recommends that you check with your notebook OEM about recommended software updates for your notebook. OEMs may not provide technical support for issues that arise from the use of this driver."

    It's pretty clear that Nvidia does not intend these drivers to work with all laptops nor is that a reasonable assumption. I'll re-iterate, there are tons of custom configurations in laptops that makes it unreasonable to expect drivers to work with each and every one. This is why laptop OEMs provide custom drivers. This isn't something new either, they've been doing this for over 2 decades now.
  • Manch - Friday, December 14, 2018 - link

    Ref NVidia drivers work pretty good on ASUS Zen Book(current laptop). Actually a reason I got a Zen Book over a couple others. I detest waiting on the NB manufacturer to customize. I've been burned regardless of GPU vendor. Fortunately both Nvidia and AMD have supported with generic drivers eventually and the communities are helpful dealing with the quirks. The APU situation will get sorted. It sucks that you have to wait but it will get done.
  • limitedaccess - Friday, December 14, 2018 - link

    You seem to be dodging the issue.

    The reference driver is provided by everyone except in the case of AMD specifically for Raven Ridge mobile. AMD even provides reference drivers for other mobile products whether APUs or discrete GPUs. This is the problem.

    The choice is provided in all cases except this one. And that choice by most cases works better than relying on OEM specific drivers.
  • Manch - Friday, December 14, 2018 - link

    The old A8/10 APUs were in the same situation at first and it got sorted.
  • JasonMZW20 - Saturday, December 15, 2018 - link

    They're blacklisted by installer for stability and operational reasons. You can force install the drivers via Device Manager, but some issues arise after doing so. Some laptops will no reinitialize display after it sleeps, while others become resolution locked in games (newer games need resolution reductions for acceptable performance), others simply present a black screen after restart, etc. etc. It's a problem, but AMD can't force OEMs to play nice with reference drivers without some sort of opt-in program like Nvidia or Intel. They all have disclaimers, and even AMD's older mobile GPUs don't always work correctly with reference drivers. My old Acer laptop black screens at times (with reference drivers) and I have to use the built-in function keys to turn off/on display to get it back. It's dumb.

    Mobile/laptop market has always been locked down. Many IT admins prefer that to reduce issues.
  • abufrejoval - Thursday, December 20, 2018 - link

    Never even checked to see if there *was* any OEM drivers for a couple of GigaByte P35X v6 with GTX1070 I'm running. I guess that's because they run CentOS as a primary OS and are used mostly for CUDA stuff. But I also run Windows 2016 and Windows 2019 as a secondary OS on some of them, and I just use the same "desktop" driver I use for my tower workstations (they are bit-by-bit the same, even if the filenames differ when you download them btw.)

    That's another unforgivable driver development sin AMD has committed in my personal view as a long time "dual stack" operator: Ever since one of these "revolutions" they refuse to install on Windows server editions, which I used to run on APUs for standby backup servers (MSDN developer license, otherwise it would be insane).

    Over the last 20 years, ever since I risked replacing an Intel 80486DX with an AM486 DX4-120, they have always gone somewhere beyond the 90% mark, only to hit you with something really hard or impossible to fix, before going to 100% functionality or reliability. I really believe it's necessary to support them, if only to keep Intel from absolute supremacy, but my conviction has cost me dearly for a very long time and I guess I tire more easily these days.
  • Saabensippen - Thursday, December 13, 2018 - link

    I have a Vega 56 red dragon and the zero fan does not work. 25% is the lowest you can set it. The fans never ran (actually zero rpm) unless I was gaming with the previous most recent driver. There was another guy on wccftech who mentioned the same thing although I think he said he couldn’t get the fans below 35% super annoying now I can hear the fans running all the time.
  • Manch - Friday, December 14, 2018 - link

    Did a clean install of this yesterday in an attempt to get AMDREWARDS to recognize my game code. Support Service fixed it within an hour. While waiting I tinkered around a bit. One big change I noticed is in Wattman. before when doing custom profiles, I could only see the last two steps. FE cards were allowed a few more. Now I can can see the voltages and clockspeed for all steps which is great. I was able to undervolt significantly and after playing around I was able to overclock even more and even out the ramp up. As a result I evened out the frame rate @ 4k for a few games. Normally, driver update...yay. For this update I'm like YAAAASSSSSS!!! I'm glad theyre putting work into their drivers.
  • Manch - Friday, December 14, 2018 - link

  • Haawser - Saturday, December 15, 2018 - link

    You had it right the first time, 'they're' is the correct contraction of 'they are'. The word 'their' is completely wrong as it means 'belonging to them'.

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