In light of the Nvidia GPP controversy, AMD made an official announcement that it remains committed to fair competition and providing consumer choice. In AMD’s own words, the company’s products don’t come with “gamer taxes” and doesn’t force its partners into “anti-competitive conditions.”
Late last month, HardOCP published its opinion on a new Nvidia partner program called the GeForce Partner Program (GPP). GPP was launched without much fanfare and slipped under the radar until HardOCP dragged it into the spotlight. The issue quickly developed into a controversy. We posted an explainer on what GPP is, but to summarize: GPP allegedly forces Nvidia graphics card partners, such as Asus, MSI, and others, to create Nvidia-exclusive branding. In practice, that means that partners can’t have product lines that offer both Nvidia and AMD graphics options. For example, under GPP, Asus wouldn’t be able to make AMD graphics cards that carry it’s most well-known brand, ROG.
Initially, much of the talk surrounding GPP remained accusations and speculation. More recently, however, continued silence from Nvidia and branding changes spotted in Asus’, MSI’s, and Gigabyte’s product lines have begun to paint a picture of the anti-competitive nature that underlies GPP. The three Nvidia graphics card partners all removed name branding from their AMD graphics cards. Asus removed its aforementioned ROG branding, MSI cut its “Gaming” moniker, and Gigabyte deleted its Aorus name. Asus was the first to officially announce a new brand for its AMD graphics cards: Arez. Going forward "Arez" will take the place of "ROG" in Asus’ AMD products. We suspect that MSI and Gigabyte will soon follow suit.
AMD has now broken its silence on the matter and issued an official statement. Of course, AMD didn’t mention GPP or Nvidia by name, but it’s clear who this statement targets. Corporate VP of Radeon Gaming at AMD Scott Herkelman said the following with regards to the ongoing controversy.
Over the coming weeks, you can expect to see our add-in board partners launch new brands that carry an AMD Radeon product. AMD is pledging to reignite this freedom of choice when gamers choose an AMD Radeon RX graphics card. These brands will share the same values of openness, innovation, and inclusivity that most gamers take to heart. The freedom to tell others in the industry that they won’t be boxed in to choosing proprietary solutions that come bundled with “gamer taxes” just to enjoy great experiences they should rightfully have access to. The freedom to support a brand that actively works to advance the art and science of PC gaming while expanding its reach.
Herkelman is obviously referring to brands, including Arez, that are created by the add-in board partners out of necessity due to GPP, and not anything resulting from AMD’s own initiatives with those companies. AMD is trying spin the inception of these brands positively, however. As Herkelman notes, brands carrying AMD’s products will carry its pillars of being dedicated to “open innovation,” of “true transparency,” and of “expanding the PC ecosystem.”
As Herkelman rightly points out, AMD does have a decent track record in these departments. The most well-known example is probably FreeSync. Unlike with Nvidia’s G-Sync, which requires proprietary silicon and licensing to implement, FreeSync is part of the standard display protocols in HDMI and DisplayPort. Herkelman also mentions the open-source graphics API Vulkan, a competitor to Microsoft’s DirectX. Vulkan was built upon AMD’s donated Mantle API from 2013.