It’s been a long time since we last posted a CATALYST driver report, but that doesn’t mean that ATI’s driver team has been sitting on their thumbs idling, on the contrary they’ve actually been rather busy, releasing new drivers each month for Windows users, as well as a few Linux driver releases as well.
The most significant of ATI’s recent releases was easily CATALYST CONTROL CENTER (CCC), which was unleashed with CATALYST 4.8 just days before CAT 4.9 was unveiled. CATALYST CONTROL CENTER brought with it a host of new features, including a new game profile manager, enhanced hotkeys support, and revised menus for video control, VPU Recover, OVERDRIVE, and a new “3D” tab that combined the OpenGL and Direct3D tabs into one, with a 3D Preview feature that showed the benefits of anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering in real-time. CCC was a pretty groundbreaking release for ATI, but its sluggish performance turned off many ATI users. Quite a few went back to ATI’s older, less feature-rich control panel instead.
Over time ATI has worked hard at addressing consumer complaints with CCC. The driver download itself with CCC has come down in size, while performance, specifically CCC load times have been slowly improved. ATI has also provided new features unique to CCC, these include CATALYST AI (which was launched with CATALYST 4.10), and enhanced OVERDRIVE support for high-end RADEON cards.
CATALYST AI provides performance optimizations for quite a few of today’s latest and most popular games, including DOOM 3 and Half-Life 2, automatically detecting the game you’re playing and loading the appropriate optimizations. This could include texture optimizations, or simpler things, such as disabling AA in the original Splinter Cell, which doesn’t support the feature. Previously turning on AA in Splinter Cell would cause texture corruption which some users incorrectly blamed was caused by the graphics card/driver. OVERDRIVE 3 and OVERDRIVE 4 have also been introduced with CCC, which provides manual clock speed adjustment for the graphics core and memory, better hardware monitoring, as well as automatic clock speed adjustment. OVERDRIVE 4 introduced a 3D Test feature, allowing users to test out their overclocked settings.
But overclocking and performance improvements aren’t the only aspects ATI has addressed with recent CATALYST releases. ATI’s driver team has also made CCC easier to use, integrating the 3D portion of CCC into the system tray with CATALYST 5.2, providing more convenient access to frequently used 3D settings such as AA/AF adjustment. CATALYST 5.3 provided OpenGL 2.0 support.
Now ATI is set to release another CATALYST driver, and this one in some ways may be one of the biggest releases we’ve seen this year. Let’s go over what’s new with this driver.