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Testing shows AMD’s AMF encoder is finally up to par with Nvidia NVENC

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The introduction of B-Frames to AMF Release.1.4.24 has brought about a significant improvement in the quality of AMD’s AMF encoder. Although the update was released months ago, Chris Griffith of Code Calamity put it to the test just yesterday.

Griffith claims that he saw huge gains after the update. The AMF encoder was close to Nvidia’s newest NVENC coder, found in its RTX 20 and 30 series GPUs. AMD Radeon GPUs could be a viable option for game streaming with low-bitrate images that look almost as good or better than Nvidia’s.

The 400 series Polaris GPUs are not the only ones that have had significant issues with AMD’s encoders. In some cases, they even went further. Quality and support have been a constant problem and were mostly inferior to Nvidia’s NVENC encoder or Intel’s QuickSync encoder.

The quality problem was made worse by Nvidia’s 6th Generation NVENC encoder. This encoder was introduced to the RTX 20 series and significantly improved GPU encoding. It puts performance on par with suitable x264 encoding.

Testing shows AMD's AMF encoder is finally up to par with Nvidia NVENC
Source: EposVox

AMD has not significantly improved its encoders since the release of the 6th generation NVENC four years ago. EposVox, the streaming expert, shows how poor AMF’s streaming performance in low-bitrate situations using the H.264 codec.

HVAC encoder is the exception, and AMD’s AMF encoder does an exceptional job. This capability is almost impossible to use in the real world because all modern video players require H.264 support.

B-frames are Back

Re-introducing B-frames in the AMD encoder is the critical feature that improves AMF’s image quality. Ironically, AMD had initially supported B-Frames with its original encoder/decoder engine VCE (starting in the 2nd generation). AMD appears to have stopped supporting it after the release of its VCN engine. This was released first with AMD Raven Ridge APUs and RDNA1 graphics card.

Modern video compression is based on B-frames. These frames can be paired with I or P frames to create a compressed video file. The H.264 compression algorithm can use B frames to predict image data from past and future frames within a video stream. This optional feature can be used to improve the quality of streams with lower bit rates.



Code Calamity used VMAF for image quality differentiation between NVENC, AMF, and Intel QuickSync. Big Buck Bunny was the reference video. The benchmark’s highest score is 100 points. NVENC scored 96.13 points, and Intel QuickSync scored 96.37% in this benchmark. Code Calamity shows that AMD’s AMF encoder is only half a point ahead of both encoders. However, AMD’s AMF was two points behind the encoders before (without B frames).

It can be confusing to grasp this benchmark. It means that AMF’s image quality is right below Nvidia’s most recent NVENC encoder, which is much better than before the latest update.

It is still tough to get support.

The only issue with the AMF encoder update is that no streaming platform, OBS included, has offered support despite being available for almost four months. Although it’s unclear why no one has yet implemented support for this update, AMD has a history of not supporting developers in implementing its encoder SDKs. This could be why support has taken so long to get implemented.

This benchmark is meant to be a guide for future AMF performance. OBS and other apps will hopefully soon be able to benefit from the new update. This will allow current and future AMD card owners to better use their cards for streaming and other tasks.

News Sources: Tom’s HardwareEposVox

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