Valve this week released an update to SteamVR which finally brings Motion Smoothing to AMD graphics cards, a feature which aims to maintain comfortable visuals even during performance bumps. SteamVR Motion Smoothing launched first for NVIDIA graphics cards in November 2018.
The public branch of SteamVR was updated to version 1.4.14 this week, which incorporates all prior beta updates since the last public branch update.
Among a heap of other improvements and fixes, 1.4.14 finally brings the SteamVR Motion Smoothing feature to AMD RX and Vega graphics cards. R9 and older cards are not supported. Valve also says that while the newer Radeon VII is technically supported, there’s a bug in its graphics driver which can cause Motion Smoothing to stop working, that hasn’t offered a timeline for when this might be fixed.
Motion Smoothing hit the public branch of SteamVR back in November 2018 with support for NVIDIA GPUs. The feature is a more advanced version of prior VR rendering tech which aims to keep the view inside the headset smooth and comfortable, even if the computer occasionally drops frames due to performance issues. It’s similar to Oculus’ ASW technology.
Motion Smoothing in SteamVR synthesizes entirely new frames to use in the place of dropped frames. It does so by looking at the last two frames, estimating what the next frame should look like, then sending the synthesized frame to the display instead of an entirely new frame. Motion Smoothing is only available on systems running Windows 10, and only works with the Vive, Vive Pro, and other native OpenVR headsets as other headsets (like the Rift and Windows VR) have their own approach to dealing with dropped frames.
Motion Smoothing is likely to be an important feature for those using Valve’s upcoming Index headset which has a higher resolution than the original Vive, and supports 90Hz, 120Hz, and 144Hz refresh rates. Rendering at higher resolution and higher frame rates requires greater performance, and will therefore be more sensitive to dips in performance, leading to more cases where Motion Smoothing may be needed.
Speaking of Index, SteamVR 1.4.14 also officially adds support for Index, which replaces the external drivers that developers needed to use up to this point. A handful of new features have also come to support Index’s upcoming launch, like support for headsets offering multiple framerates and a new controller pairing UI which now includes the Index controllers and Vive Tracker.