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AMD unveils 'Fusion' gaming utility for speeding up your PC

Ross Miller

AMD today launched the Fusion Gaming Utility, the first in what the company is calling a major push in rebranding (Cinema 2.0 is part of that), complementary to the AMD Game! Initiative it launched earlier this year. We had a chance to talk with AMD Gaming Strategist Brent Barry and PR representative Matt Davis, to grill them on the odds and ends of the new software and AMD's push to capitalize on the mainstream core gamer.

"Fusion Utility works by 'getting rid of all the unnecessary process that you don't need to run' while gaming."

"With AMD Game, we wanted to simplify the purchasing process," said Davis. "A lot of who we're talking about [with gamers] are enthusiasts who optimize their PCs, but what about folks want to get extra performance but don't know how?" As Barry explained, the Fusion Utility works by "getting rid of all the unnecessary process that you don't need to run" while gaming. AMD's goal is to make the app as simple as possible -- a single circular button on your desktop that, once clicked, turns off the various Windows processes and, should you have the proper AMD CPU, GPU and motherboard, boost the hardware output.

There will be three default profiles -- basic, advanced and expert -- and the ability to customize your own profile. Basic will provide, in Barry's estimate, a two- to five-percent boost on a typical system. "[The basic profile] is not gonna knock your socks off in terms of performance," said Barry. "We made it to be the easiest, safest, most non-invasive form we could make so any mainstream user could be comfortable with it." Advanced and Expert turn off more options and boost hardware, but custom-made profiles are where we've had the most fun.

"Some in-house developers have been using it to 'underclock' their computers and extending battery life on laptops.

With custom profiles, we were able to choose what processes would and would not remain open. (Any processes that would harm Windows stability or usability, said Barry, were essentially "blacklisted" and could not be disabled.) Anti-virus programs and Firewalls will not be shut down. At the moment, said Davis, the team wants people to focus on the software as a gaming utility, but they noted some in-house developers who have been using it to "underclock" their computers and extending battery life on their laptops.

There are some caveats to using the software, and AMD notes that the utility is still considered a "beta" download. The first thing you should know is that in its current state, the utility has no regard for that novel you've been writing -- if Notepad is scheduled for disabling, you won't be prompted to save. Make sure you save all your open files before using Fusion! Barry said they were working on a solution for this issue.

"We want to be out of beta as soon as possible ... so after we release, it's really depending on what kind of feedback we get," said Barry. "I think we're complete for our public release, we just want to make sure we sniff out any problems we've not caught yet as quickly as possible before doing the full release. The one thing about doing it as a beta, it keeps away people who aren't sure about their PC. We want to make sure those people who might be afraid don't touch it yet and the people who are willing to give feedback are the ones who are going to be using it."

Some other things to note:
  • To get the most out of the application, obviously, you need AMD hardware. The overclock only works with 7-series or better motherboards. The requirement is intentional, said Davis, since AMD is providing free support and it wants the utility to "exemplify the AMD solution advantage."
  • The utility is currently validated for Windows Vista 32-bit. It does not function (or has some low-level functionality) on the 64-bit version at the moment but is expected to for a later release. Barry said the software is not validated or supported for Windows XP, but it should work. "It's just that, with the timeline of when we wanted to release, our test wouldn't validated it by launch." A "validation" for XP is coming later.
  • A fun history note: The the application was first proposed at the end of September last year. When the AMD Game Initiative launched, the developers were in "alpha" version. Previous names included GameReactor and GameIgniter.
The AMD Fusion Gaming Utility is available now via AMD's website.

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