Undocumented in last week’s release of Radeon Software 18.4.1 Adrenalin Edition, AMD’s newest driver has brought beta support for PlayReady 3.0, Microsoft’s video playback DRM solution, to Polaris GPUs. First noticed by users successfully streaming Netflix 4K on Radeon Polaris video cards, AMD has since confirmed this functionality. AMD noted that a WHQL-certified driver providing production-ready PlayReady 3.0 support will be released in the near future.

Taking a step back, 18.4.1’s beta PlayReady 3.0 support for Polaris is in line with AMD’s previous guidance on the matter, where PlayReady 3.0 support was to come with driver updates this year. That being said, production-ready PlayReady 3-capable graphics drivers for Ryzen desktop APUs were originally intended in early Q2, an announcement quietly made alongside the launch of AMD's Ryzen 5 2400G and Ryzen 3 220G. In any case, AMD gave a general update simply stating that PlayReady 3.0 support for discrete Vega graphics and Raven Ridge-based APUs remains under development and is planned for future driver releases.

As the 18.4.1 release is geared for users of retail channel products, this development is somewhat independent for OEM and mobile systems. For OEM and mobile systems, AMD naturally noted that PlayReady support depends on system providers, and in the meantime, AMD is working with the relevant partners in enabling PlayReady 3.0 on systems with discrete Polaris GPUs, the timelines of which would presumably be specific to the OEMs.

Bringing this back to consumers, one of the best ways to contextualize burgeoning PlayReady 3.0 support is to take a look at Netflix 4K/HDR streaming, for which PlayReady 3.0 support is required. To recap, the following items are pre-requisites to stream Netflix 4K content on a PC:

  • Windows 10 Fall Creators Update (for HDR or using discrete graphics)
  • Windows 10 HEVC Media Extension, or equivalent (if missing due to Fall Creators Update)
  • Latest unspecified Windows Updates
  • Microsoft Edge or Windows 10 Netflix application
  • Netflix plan that supports 4K and HDR streaming
  • High or Automatic Streaming Quality in Netflix Account Playback Settings
  • Minimum internet connection speed of 25 Mbps
  • 60Hz 4K display with HDCP 2.2 capability
  • HDCP 2.2 certified cable with 4K capable digital interface
  • HDCP 2.2 capable and 4K capable digital interface port on motherboard video-out or discrete GPU
  • Supported discrete or integrated GPU (PlayReady 3.0, HDCP 2.2 output)
  • Appropriate graphics driver

Note that Netflix has updated the requirements to specify a 60Hz display. There are additional stipulations and pre-requisites for each vendor (Intel, AMD, and NVIDIA), particularly if users are looking to stream in HDR as well. For Intel, only Kaby Lake iGPUs or later are supported. For NVIDIA, only GeForce GTX 1050 or higher with at least 3GB VRAM are supported, with driver version 387.96 or higher required. As NVIDIA notes, streaming 4K on SLI/LDA is not supported, and multi-monitor configurations require all active monitors to be HDCP 2.2 capable or content will be downgraded to 1080p; the latter stipulation is presumably true for future AMD configurations as well.

Source: AMD

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  • crazyfrog - Monday, May 7, 2018 - link

    'Windows 10 HEVC Media Extension, or equivalent' What equivalents are there? A free version?
  • nevcairiel - Tuesday, May 8, 2018 - link

    The HEVC extension from Microsoft is free. It just requires HEVC hardware support, which you would need to have for this content anyway.
  • Flunk - Wednesday, May 9, 2018 - link

    You could always write your own.
  • r3loaded - Tuesday, May 8, 2018 - link

    What a ridiculous set of restrictions for content that will get pirated anyway.
  • Targon - Tuesday, May 8, 2018 - link

    Pirated content will not have the protection on it, but at the same time, we are talking about streaming content from legal content providers where DRM is expected. So, you want Netflix, HBO, Showtime, Starz, etc, you need to expect there will be DRM. Without DRM, these legitimate sources of copyrighted content would get cut off.
  • SkOrPn - Tuesday, May 8, 2018 - link

    Think before speaking please. The Pirates can NOT pirate content that do not exist. Without the DRM restrictions, the content makers wouldn't make the content in the first place. Would you buy a car without locks on the doors? Would you put money in a bank vault (the product) that did not have a lock (DRM) on the door? Of course not. Without the DRM restrictions, there would be NOTHING for pirates to pirate in the first place.
  • Flunk - Wednesday, May 9, 2018 - link

    The comment above is about the futility of DRM, your comment doesn't make sense in that context

    And all your metaphors don't make sense either. Digital media is not a physical object, content producers don't need to secure content to make money and DRM doesn't stop piracy.

    In this case, this DRM is just going to make legitimate users buy newer hardware to watch the content.

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