What is Dynamic Resolution Scaling? What does it mean in graphics processing?

You may have heard the term “Dynamic Resolution Scaling”, abbreviated as DRS, used to describe a technique commonly found in many games to help improve overall graphics performance. So what is Dynamic Resolution Scaling? Why are more and more games using this technique to give players a more optimal experience?

What is DRS?

Dynamic resolution scaling is a technique used in both PC and console games that alters the top resolution to improve performance. When the graphics processing unit (GPU) encounters a “hard to chew” task, DRS can be used to reduce the output resolution, thereby keeping the overall performance steady.

This can be understood as a way to reduce stress on the GPU, helping to maintain a stable frame rate. Games that do not use DRS will be locked to the set resolution, and that may lead to unstable performance in some usage scenarios, or force developers to consider other methods other reduction methods.

This is done by the game engine, which can adjust the resolution up and down for optimal smooth performance. The developers will decide the minimum (and maximum) resolution that the game can reach. Through DRS, this resolution can be flexibly adjusted depending on the actual hardware configuration.

This process is not linear and can occur to varying degrees on different axes. Scaling resolution on one axis is often a lot less noticeable than linear scaling resolution affecting horizontal and vertical axes. Many games limit scaling to the horizontal axis, even though it is properly rendered at the correct aspect ratio (the pixels are stretched).

During the motion, many players will not notice that the resolution of the game has been reduced. Additional techniques such as temporary anti-aliasing can be used to smooth out jagged lines that often appear with low resolutions.

Overall, DRS is a useful tool because it helps reduce render times on the GPU. When a scene takes too long to render, the aspect ratio will drop because the GPU can’t process them in the time it takes to achieve the desired frame rate.

For example, 60fps frame rate requires the GPU to process and render a new frame every 16.667 milliseconds. If rendering a certain frame takes longer than this, the frame is skipped and the overall frame rate is reduced. Variable refresh rate (VRR) technology makes this less noticeable by eliminating screen tearing, while DRS can help boost performance across the entire session.

Take a simpler example. There are four times as many pixels in a 4K image as there are in a 1080p (full HD) image, so the GPU would have to render four times as long to process an image in 4K as it does in 1080p . Lowering the resolution will reduce render time, giving the GPU the space it needs to reach the desired frame rate.

4K and 1080p

So, if a 4K image is rendering at 30fps, and you want to hit the 60fps goal, then halving the resolution will allow the GPU to achieve this goal under ideal conditions and no settings. else is changed.

DRS keeps the overall setup stable

Resolution is only one part of the frame rendering time equation. Detail (LOD), shadow quality, shader quality, etc. can all affect render times and performance. Developers can use various techniques to reduce image quality in order to achieve higher frame rates.

One of the biggest benefits of DRS is that it allows developers to ignore many other settings just to reduce output resolution. This allows the graphics quality of the game to be kept consistent across different platforms or hardware, with the exception of resolutions.

In actual use, users also do not need to care too much about DRS, other than occasionally turning it on and off in PC games. Console games rely heavily on technology, which can vary greatly in implementation and is often changed in updates based on data collected by developers, as well as player feedback.


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