In an interesting turn of events, Microsoft’s Project Scorpio will become the first ever console to support AMD FreeSync, a variable refresh rate technology which prevents screen tearing and micro-stuttering. AMD FreeSync is already supported by AMD’s current crop of graphics cards and certain compatible monitors, however this is the first such time adaptive sync has made its way into the console sphere.
If you’re familiar with Nvidia’s G-Sync, AMD FreeSync is much the same thing. The benefits of FreeSync are threefold; eliminating tearing, stuttering, and input-lag. It works by allowing the FreeSync compatible monitor to refresh at a dynamic rate, matching the output of the GPU.
For example, on a normal 60Hz monitor, playing a game at 60 FPS, it will display a frame every 16.6ms. However, if the frame rate drops to 59 frames per second, one frame will need to be duplicated in order to fill the gap necessary to render on the monitor. This is what causes stuttering. FreeSync will drop the monitor refresh to 59Hz alongside the drop to 59 FPS drop, preventing this from occuring.
As far as I’m aware there are no TVs which actually support AMD FreeSync right now so this feature is going to be fairly redundant in Project Scorpio, at least during its infancy. Obviously if you’ve got an AMD FreeSync PC monitor you’ll be able to take advantage of it, but it’s a no-go in the living room for now.
Project Scorpio will utilize the newly unveiled FreeSync 2 standard, allowing for compatibility with HDR. It’s apparently baked in the Scorpio at a system level meaning no additional development work is required for a game to utilise it. It would be fairly neat to see this become a standard in TV sets as developers then wouldn’t be required to take an either/or approach with 30 or 60 FPS. Instead they could target a locked 50 FPS for example, and still deliver a stable image.