AMD Adrenalin 21.4.1 driver cuts idle power consumption by up to 72 percent

Posted on Monday, April 26 2021 @ 15:22 CEST by Thomas De Maesschalck
A week ago, AMD rolled out its Adrenalin 21.4.1 driver. This version delivered a couple of new features but didn't deliver the highly anticipated NVIDIA DLSS rival. Interestingly, it seems the release also has benefits that aren't listed in the changelog.

Big improvements in idle power consumption

TechPowerUp tested the driver with the Radeon RX 6700 XT, RX 6800, RX 6800 XT, and RX 6900 XT video cards and discovered there are big gains in terms of (non-gaming) energy efficiency.

The website reports idle power consumption at 1440p goes down from 25W to 5W on the higher-end cards. Granted, idle power consumption was very high on the RX 6000 series, so this update basically brings it down to more normal levels.

Big improvements are also seen during media playback. There is an up to 30 percent reduction in power consumption for the Radeon RX 6800, RX 6800 XT, and RX 6900 XT.

So why didn't AMD mention this in the changelog of the Adrenalin 21.4.1 driver? TechPowerUp speculates it could be because the power consumption figures are still nothing to brag about. There's almost no difference for the Navi 22-based Radeon RX 6700 XT, this suggests AMD backported some driver-level efficiency gains to the Navi 21 series.
Why AMD didn't mention these huge improvements is anyone's guess, but a closer look at the numbers could drop some hints. Even with media playback power draw dropping from roughly 50 W to 35 W, the RX 6800/6900 series chips still end up using more power than competing NVIDIA GeForce RTX 30-series SKUs. The RTX 3070 pulls 18 W, while the RTX 3080 does 27 W, both of which are lower. We tested the driver on the older-generation RX 5700 XT, and saw no changes. Radeon RX 6700 XT already had very decent power consumption in these states, so our theory is that for the Navi 22 GPU on the RX 6700 XT AMD improved certain power consumption shortcomings that were found after RX 6800 release. Since those turned out to be stable, they were backported to the Navi 21-based RX 6800/6900 series, too. -- TechPowerUp
Power consumption comparison of new vs old driver

About the Author

Thomas De Maesschalck

Thomas has been messing with computer since early childhood and firmly believes the Internet is the best thing since sliced bread. Enjoys playing with new tech, is fascinated by science, and passionate about financial markets. When not behind a computer, he can be found with running shoes on or lifting heavy weights in the weight room.

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