So there are two possibilities…
The first is that the AI Clear model was intentionally manipulated to produce an inferior result than the ‘native’ model in Denoise AI in order to boost the ‘native’ model’s appeal.
The second is that the AI Clear ‘model’ itself is in fact being utilized however the Denoise AI code (algorithm) that executes it is different than the code that executes it within Studio.
I suspect that the second possibility is more likely. There is a reason that the new AI products are stand-alone - they are completely different code bases (from Studio) and they appear to share much of the same code for the user interface, etc. If you recall the history of Topaz products, they have had stand-alone products in the past (like Remask, Impression, Texture, etc.), integration products like photoFXlab, Studio (that integrated many of the previously stand-alone products) and now back to stand-alone products. There is both a business imperative to do this (sell more products) and the reality that the vision of Topaz is evolving/re-factoring and along with it, its development team and methodologies. This is largely acknowledged in one or more Topaz blogs. We see this with other companies such as Adobe and their evolution of Lightroom.
Just my speculation based on 30+ years of software development myself… still, that does not solve our noise problems! The good news is that Topaz has embraced the use of machine learning and is actually putting it to use instead of using the word ‘AI’ to simply sell products. What that means though, is that it will constantly improve over time as new models are trained. I don’t know if this is happening now, but I would be fine having the Denoise AI product (optionally) send data about the photos I am working on to help continue to improve the models - I noticed when looking at preferences, that Adobe seems to be doing the same thing in their products.
As I hope Topaz reads these posts - please know that we all support your products and strategy and are committed to your products/company in the long term - however, until these products are consistently processing our photos, please continue to provide the ability for us to use existing products (like Studio + AI Clear) that work well for us today.