AMD is hard at work on their next GPU architecture, which we know to be Navi. A patent from 2017 has revealed that one of the advacements future Radeon architectures might bring is Variable Rate Shading.
The patent in question, as discovered by Tom’s Hardware, explains Variable Rate Shading and its implementation. The patent does not mention any architecture but it’s a safe bet that Navi may feature it. Navi is on track for a 2019 release and AMD is yet to share details about the architecture but this is one advancement that we can expect.
Variable Rate Shading is not new, it’s one of the touted features of Nvidia’s Turing architecture. VRS works by implementing shading information to different parts of the screen or to objects, so that developers can choose to dial back shading quality on parts of the screen where quality is less likely to go noticed. For example, the center of the screen is where the focus is locked while the objects nearby are either unimportant or move out quickly.
For such instances, VRS can improve performance by using lower-quality shading. One of the games that implement VRS is Wolftenstein 2.
Navi is expected to power the next-generation consoles from Sony and Microsoft. Given the fact how console manufacturers collaborate with chip markers for customized silicon, next consoles may benefit from VRS. Like how Sony doubled-down on Asynchronous Computer Engine and how the PS4 Pro’s GPU features Rapid Packed Math from Vega architecture.