Updated 4/17/2018: The article below has been updated with a video from AMD which it hopes will drive its point home.
If you’ve been following the graphics card market during the past few months, then you know about NVIDIA’s GeForce Partner Program, or GPP. AMD is going on the offensive against GPP with a new blog post entitled, “Radeon RX Graphics: A Gamer’s Choice” that was penned by Scott Herkelman, General Manager of Gaming.
But before we delve into the blog, we need to provide a little bit of background on what exactly GPP is and what it hopes to achieve. NVIDIA says that GPP has been “designed to ensure that gamers have full transparency into the GPU platform and software they’re being sold.” For its OEM partners, NVIDIA says, “GPP partners will get early access to our latest innovations, and work closely with our engineering team to bring the newest technologies to gamers.”
However, in practice, it’s been stated that add-in board manufacturers and system OEMs are being roped into contracts that force their gaming brands to be 100% aligned with NVIDIA graphics hardware. As HardOCP’sKyle Bennett, who broke the story, wrote, “So [hypothetically] if ASUS want to keep building NVIDIA-based ROG video cards, it can no longer sell AMD-based ROG video cards, and be a GPP partner.”
Apparently, we’re seeing exactly this, as ASUS is launching a new, dedicated sub-brand for AMD Radeon graphics cards called AREZ, which is costly from a marketing perspective. As more details surrounding GPP have been revealed over the past few weeks, AMD has remained silent… until now, which brings us back to the aforementioned blog post, which attempts to shed light on four areas that the company hopes to focus on with its graphics cards:
- A dedication to open innovation
- A commitment to true transparency through industry standards
- Real partnerships with real consistency
- Expanding the PC gaming ecosystem
Although Herkelman doesn’t call out NVIDIA or GPP by name in the blog post, there’s no question about who he is targeting. “PC gaming has a long, proud tradition of choice,” writes Herkelman. “Whether you build and upgrade your own PCs, or order pre-built rigs after you’ve customized every detail online, you know that what you’re playing on is of your own making, based on your freedom to choose the components that you want. Freedom of choice is a staple of PC gaming.”
Herkelman later in the blog post goes for the throat, writing, “We work closely with all our AIB partners, so that our customers are empowered with the best, high-performance, high quality gaming products and technologies available from AMD. No anti-gamer / anti-competitive strings attached.”
That is no doubt a thinly-veiled attack on GPP. But Herkelman goes on, attacking technologies like NVIDIA G-SYNC. G-SYNC monitors typically cost a lot more than their AMD FreeSync counterparts (thanks to proprietary modules that must be incorporated into the displays), and AMD has of course taken notice.
“Through industry standards like AMD FreeSync technology, we’re providing the PC ecosystem with technologies that significantly enhance gamers’ experiences, enabling partners to adopt them at no cost to consumers, rather than penalizing gamers with proprietary technology “taxes” and limiting their choice in displays,” Herkelman adds.
It’s not often that we seem AMD so forcefully go on the offensive against its primary graphics rival — at least in public. However, the fact that AMD is responding at all lends some credence that the GPP is actually doing harm in the industry (at least from AMD’s perspective).
Now that AMD has thrown down the gauntlet, we wonder if we’ll now be hearing anything from NVIDIA (which has been absolutely mum on the controversy so far).