What is FidelityFX Super Resolution?

Getting more FPS with an AMD graphics card is possible with the FidelityFX Super Resolution (FSR) rescaling technology to increase performance. It turns out to be open source and rival to NVIDIA DLSS, but the truth is the way it works is very different.

NVIDIA developed DLSS to increase FPS using artificial intelligence and deep learning technologies, so AMD responded with its FSR. This technology works differently, but has the same purpose and is based on the same idea as deep learning. We will explain how the FidelityFX Super Resolution works and, above all, what it is.

What is FidelityFX Super Resolution?

In GPUOpen, AMD defines FidelityFX Super Resolution as “a high quality open source solution for generating high resolution frames from low resolution inputs”. In other words, it’s a rescaling technology that renders a frame in low resolution (e.g. 720p) and rescales it according to the resolution we use (e.g. 1440p), making it easier for the GPU to do its job.

That’s why they define FidelityFX Super Resolution as a spatial scaler, and rendering frames at high resolution is very heavy work for the GPU, so rendering them at lower resolution to rescale them to a higher resolution is faster and more efficient.

However, this results in loss of image quality, which is a headache for NVIDIA and AMD. And DLSS and FSR were born to make Ray Tracing more workable, because the bounce of rays consumes a lot of resources. This prevents us from enjoying a Ray Tracing experience above 60 FPS.

However, AMD sees FidelityFX Super Resolution as a technology that goes beyond gaming and Ray Tracing, which means it can be used in more applications. Note that AMD connects FSR to RDNA 2, so it’s also used in PS5 and Xbox Series.

In his presentation, AMD explained the differences between different spatial scaler methods such as point or bilinear rescaling. In this image you can see how Performance Mode and Quality Mode work as opposed to Native.

We have 4 modes in total:

  • Ultra Quality with 1.3x scale factor: Difficult to distinguish from native resolution.
  • Quality with 1.5x scale factor: Creates a very similar image at native resolution with more performance.
  • Balanced with a scale factor of 1.7x: Close to the native image, loss of quality especially when the image moves.
  • Performance with 2.0x scale factor: Should be chosen when much less quality and only performance is needed.

For example, if we use 4K resolution, the GPU will be rendering at 1440p. By comparing different FPS gains with FidelityFX Super Resolution on and off, AMD achieved up to 2.6x more performance (from 99 to 259 FPS in Rift Breaker).

In addition, the red team is developing dynamic scaling factors that change according to the target speed of the game. Haven’t implemented it yet, but we’ll be talking about the GPU being able to render at half the native resolution. FPS gains vary not only according to the selected mode, but also depending on the game we are playing, such as the GPU we use.


How does FidelityFX Super Resolution work?

To do this, FSR uses an algorithm that detects and reconstructs high-resolution edges from the original image. They ensure that the final scaling quality is independent of whether the image is moving, and they leave a note to NVIDIA stating that it “can provide quality advantages over other types of scalers.”

FidelityFX Super Resolution comes with auxiliary functions aimed at color space conversion, dithering or tone mapping. The purpose of this is to integrate FSR into the most used render lines in games.


FidelityFX Super Resolution game support

If we want to enjoy FidelityFX Super Resolution, the game should offer this option in graphics settings. Indeed, being an open source technology makes life easier for developers, but it still needs to be implemented in the game.

In this regard, FSR was released in mid-2021, while DLSS came out in 2019. It is clear that the games that will be released from 2022 will come with DLSS support and FSR.

NVIDIA provides support for more than 100 games with DLSS. AMD suffers from having 50+ games with FSR support. Even so, we have to say that AMD is working very hard to add more games to the roster so it won’t stop growing but will it reach the same level as DLSS in support?

FSR compatible video cards

Being open source technology gives it a big difference compared to DLSS and the first result is the great compatibility that FidelityFX Super Resolution offers. Primarily, it is compatible with the following GPUs:

  • GTX1000
  • GTX16
  • RTX2000
  • RTX3000
  • RX6000
  • RX5000
  • Ryzen desktop and laptop APUs
  • RX Vega
  • RX500
  • RX400
  • Radeon VII
  • Intel integrated graphics cards

Of course, it won’t do us any good to have our GPU compatible with FSR if we don’t meet the minimum requirements needed to play a particular game later on. This is mostly for older APUs or GPUs so don’t take this lightly.

Differences with NVIDIA DLSS

NVIDIA uses the artificial intelligence, deep learning and tensor cores of its graphics cards to run DLSS. It is true that it manages to deliver more FPS with almost no compromise on image quality, but it has its own characteristics.