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AMD pulls graphics driver after “Anti-Lag+” triggers Counter-Strike 2 bans

The red eyes represent the mark of VAC for Anti-Lag+ players.
Enlarge / The red eyes represent the mark of VAC for Anti-Lag+ players.


AMD has taken down the latest version of its AMD Adrenalin Edition graphics driver after Counter-Strike 2-maker Valve warned that players using its Anti-Lag+ technology would result in a ban under Valve’s anti-cheat rules.

AMD first introduced regular Anti-Lag mitigation in its drivers back in 2019, limiting input lag by reducing the amount of queued CPU work when the processor was getting too far ahead of the GPU frame processing. But the newer Anti-Lag+ system—which was first rolled out for a handful of games last month—updates this system by “applying frame alignment within the game code itself,” according to AMD. That method leads to additional lag reduction of up to 10 ms, according to AMD’s data.

That additional lag reduction could offer players a bit of a competitive advantage in these games (with the usual arguments about whether that advantage is “unfair” or not). But it’s Anti-Lag+’s particular method of altering the “game code itself” that sets off warning bells for the Valve Anti-Cheat (VAC) system. After AMD added Anti-Lag+ support for Counter-Strike 2 in a version 23.10.1 update last week, VAC started issuing bans to unsuspecting AMD users that activated the feature.

“AMD’s latest driver has made their ‘Anti-Lag/+’ feature available for CS2, which is implemented by detouring engine dll functions,” Valve wrote on social media Friday. “If you are an AMD customer and play CS2, DO NOT ENABLE ANTI-LAG/+; any tampering with CS code will result in a VAC ban.”

Beyond Valve, there are also widespread reports of Anti-Lag+ triggering crashes or account bans in competitive online games like Modern Warfare 2 and Apex Legends. But Nvidia users haven’t reported any similar problems with the company’s Reflex system, which uses SDK-level code adjustments to further reduce input lag in games including Counter-Strike 2.

Over the weekend, direct links to the AMD Adrenalin Edition 23.10.1 update stopped working on the AMD site, and the site’s driver download section now recommends September’s Adrenalin Edition version 23.9.3 for compatible cards. Users who have already downloaded the new driver can turn off Anti-Lag+ by hitting alt+L before starting a game.

Valve, at least, seems to realize the “cheating” being identified here was unintentional and has promised that “once AMD ships an update we can do the work of identifying affected users and reversing their ban.” But unwinding other bans may be an uphill battle; at least one Apex Legends player on the EA forums reports the publisher told a friend that “we have confirmed your account was rightfully banned but do not disclose the reason.”

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