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ATI Catalyst Drivers Updated/Optimized For Eyefinity/Mobility

ATI Catalyst Drivers Updated/Optimized For Eyefinity/Mobility
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We usually don’t spend much time covering individual driver updates. After all, with ATI launching a new Catalyst version each month and Nvidia peppering beta releases in between its qualified driver drops, covering new drivers is nearly an editorial position of its own.

But when ATI approached us about some of the improvements being wrapped up into the forthcoming 10.2 and 10.3 Catalyst releases, set for February and March availability, respectively, I noticed a handful of planned features that I had been receiving email about from readers. Hopefully, the following list of upcoming additions will be good news to early adopters of the Radeon HD 5000-series cards, CrossFire, and Mobility Radeon graphics.

Catalyst 10.2

On February 17th, ATI is releasing its Catalyst 10.2 package, which introduces a handful of capabilities.

CrossFireX Profiles: To begin, CrossFire profiles are being broken out into a separate binary that users can install to get the latest application profiles. This addresses the issue of trailing support for CrossFire after a game has already been launched, but before a scheduled Catalyst software drop. In the past, we would have seen ATI push a hotfixed version of the driver to get CrossFire running. Now, the separate profiles can be updated without having to touch the driver. These are not user-editable, as many folks wanted. But this represents a solid step toward more quickly adding support to games ATI's software team didn't get to touch during development.

CrossFireX Re-Architecture: This one was of particular interest to me. Having recently spent a fair amount of time benchmarking Lucid’s Hydra technology, which claims to not only enable ATI/ATI and Nvidia/Nvidia configurations, but also mixed-vendor multi-card rendering, I was curious as to where ATI is going here.

The company already facilitates more flexibility than Nvidia when it comes to mixing and matching cards within a given GPU generation. But now ATI is pulling the multi-GPU code from the 3D driver and re-writing it into a new, separate multi-GPU driver. This won’t offer any tangible benefit today, but it will in the future, ATI says. Think: mixing cards from different generations, not just cards from the same generation.

The old architecture was pretty much limited to alternate-frame rendering. Thus, the only way you could break up the workload was to have the high-end GPU render four frames and the lower-end model do the fifth, and so on, for example. The re-architecting affords more flexibility, allowing one GPU to handle vertex processing, while the other handles rendering (again, as an example). This will become a major component of the Fusion APU when it’s paired to discrete graphics cards.

Ultra-Low Power State: This was one of the features we were introduced to when ATI first started talking about its Radeon HD 5970. In essence, when you’re running a CrossFire configuration, the driver is able to put the secondary GPU into a low-power sleep state. The savings versus both cards simply idling, ATI says, can be as much as 12W. 

CrossFireX For Eyefinity: First previewed alongside the Radeon HD 5970, ATI is including official CrossFireX support for Eyefinity triple-display configurations. The lack of CrossFire support in Eyefinity mode was one of my sharpest criticisms when the Radeon HD 5870 first launched. The introduction of this feature is truly what justifies buying a pair of high-end Radeon HD 5000-series graphics cards. Gaming at 5760x1200 is a glorious experience. 

DisplayPort Audio: Though this is undoubtedly a minor addition to most, if your DisplayPort-equipped monitor includes speakers, it’s now possible to get audio to them over the digital interface. This isn’t something home theater enthusiasts or even a majority of gamers will care about, but stands as a notable addition nevertheless.

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  • 1 Hide
    aberchonbie , February 17, 2010 3:26 AM
    This is great! Especially the Eyefinity/CrossfireX capability which I'm sure a LOT of ATI 5xxx owners will enjoy and be glad to have!
  • 2 Hide
    JohnnyLucky , February 17, 2010 3:40 AM
    Interesting update. I like the bezel feature.
  • 1 Hide
    witcherx , February 17, 2010 3:41 AM
    hoobah! hoobah! hoo!
  • 2 Hide
    Annisman , February 17, 2010 3:53 AM
    Anybody know where I can download these ? They are not on ATI.com yet, articles are saying it will be released today.

    Hope it fixes my CF issues with ETW.
  • 4 Hide
    akoegle , February 17, 2010 4:09 AM
    Will if fix my Grey screen?
  • 3 Hide
    cangelini , February 17, 2010 4:11 AM
    annismanAnybody know where I can download these ? They are not on ATI.com yet, articles are saying it will be released today.Hope it fixes my CF issues with ETW.


    Keep checking back--ATI says they'll be up on the 17th. But bear in mind that this only applies to the 10.2s--10.3 will be March!
  • 1 Hide
    micky_lund , February 17, 2010 4:44 AM
    hmmm...they should get a hotfix out for 5700series black/grey screens....
    the 5800s are fixed, but not the 5700s
  • 0 Hide
    vulmer , February 17, 2010 5:45 AM
    "But now ATI is pulling the multi-GPU code from the 3D driver and re-writing it into a new, separate multi-GPU driver. This won’t offer any tangible benefit today, but it will in the future, ATI says."

    So ATI is looking at creating driver based hybdrid gpu setups? Or are they just improving the current code for motherboards that support this feature?
  • 0 Hide
    JAYDEEJOHN , February 17, 2010 5:55 AM
    Great to see this, and its looking to change alot of things
  • 0 Hide
    frozenlead , February 17, 2010 6:17 AM
    I tried eyefinity last week with my dual 5870's. I didn't take them out of CF mode and they performed beautifully on everything but Crysis. Didn't check on if the 2nd GPU was loading or anything, but perhaps I can convince my friends to bring their monitors over one more time...
  • 1 Hide
    DXRick , February 17, 2010 6:19 AM
    ATI is still ignoring the 2D performance issues for the 5000 series? :( 
  • 4 Hide
    cangelini , February 17, 2010 6:27 AM
    DXRickATI is still ignoring the 2D performance issues for the 5000 series?


    They've addressed it, but it's not in the driver yet, nor do we have a date when they'll be adding it. We won't let 'em forget tho ;-)
  • 0 Hide
    lashton , February 17, 2010 7:06 AM
    does this mean I can mix a 5850 with a 4850?
  • 0 Hide
    anamaniac , February 17, 2010 7:19 AM
    I would rather pay $190 for a second 5770 then $150 for a DP to DVI adaptor. Let me use the outputs from two cards at once!

    Bezel correction is nothing new, Matrox worked on it for their TH2G.
    Also, why hasn't DisplayPort become more popular? Licensing fees are less than HDMI (from what I can remember).

    I currently own 3xSamsung 2343 (22" 2048x1152). I would absolutely love if they made a gen 3 (they already have 2 gens of the 2343, I own a single g1 and two g2) with DisplayPort and 120Hz. Maybe even use a SPVA panel. Most importantly, still be affordable (the 2343 is the EyeFinity dream monitor, high resolution, small size, thin bezel, cheap, and also, did I say cheap?).
    I would love to play games in 3D, but current 120Hz monitors are twice as expensive, and I'd rather not use 3D n a 60Hz monitor.
  • -2 Hide
    carlhenry , February 17, 2010 9:04 AM
    will this improve performance? say for example the mysteriously less fps of 5450 that should have a slight edge on its predecessor the 4550. i mean on paper the 5450 has an extra 50MHz (correct me if i'm wrong). im planning to add a discrete low profile gpu on my htpc but i dont want to be a generation behind when upgrading. the dx11 looks sweet but a +3-5fps on games of the 4550 is just so hard to pass on.
  • 1 Hide
    TheGreatGrapeApe , February 17, 2010 9:38 AM
    LOVE the FIRST LINE of the 2nd page !!

    Been a long time coming, just hope it's better implemented than the XP version which also left it up to the OEM partners who never updated the drivers, and Vista whom ATi put the responsibility in the hands of the OEM too.

    Hopefully this now means, when you buy an ATi GPU it will actually have modern drivers to allow it to function, and not simply modern excuses as to why no one is providing the patch to enable HDMI output and support for a game that came out before the laptop was bought. :sarcastic: 

    I have high hopes, and hopefully someone will test this 'promise' and see if it's anywhere near the wide support they quote in their slide "Supported by most major OEM/ODM notebook manufacturers" ;
    http://www.brightsideofnews.com/Data/2010_2_17/AMD-brings-ton-of-features-to-the-Catalyst-drivers/AMD_ATI_Catalyst_10.3_675.jpg

    You will notice in your article that MY OEM Fujitsu is one of the A-holes who've opted out. :fou: 

    Which makes me extra mad because they provided a BS 'driver update utility' which they later admitted was broken, and when questioned about updated drivers, they also said they would not be providing any and that we had to go to ATi... who told us to go to Fujitsu... etc. :heink: 

    Here's the description;

    Fujitsu Driver Update V1.2 L16
    1. Product overview
    ===========================================================
    Fujitsu Driver Update checks for and installs the latest drivers and
    software available from Fujitsu for your computer via the Internet. The
    program runs automatically as a system tray icon and notifies you when
    new updates are available. Also, you can check for updates at any time
    by right-clicking the tray icon and choosing "Check for updates..."


    In the 2+ year I've owned this laptop it's NEVER provided an update, even when there was a 2 critical ones on their site (for Robson and the Fingerprint Reader) plus a Bios update. For all that effort to make and adopt an application to pretend to do what we should be able to do on our own, it's pretty sad & slimy that they are opting out.

    Simple solution is to never recommend or buy the laptops of the OEMs who opt out. :pfff: 

    I'm fine because I know how to take other current laptop drivers and make them work (better than the driver mod tool), but most people can't which is why I won't recommend anyone not in the program.

    Anywhoo buying another laptop in the Spring (other than the new ASUS TP91MT I just bought) and for sure anyone on the opt out list won't even be considered, just too much hassle even for someone who knows how to work it. :pfff: 
  • -3 Hide
    anamaniac , February 17, 2010 9:41 AM
    Quote:
    LOVE the FIRST LINE of the 2nd page !!

    Been a long time coming, just hope it's better implemented than the XP version which also left it up to the OEM partners who never updated the drivers, and Vista whom ATi put the responsibility in the hands of the OEM too.

    Hopefully this now means, when you buy an ATi GPU it will actually have modern drivers to allow it to function, and not simply modern excuses as to why no one is providing the patch to enable HDMI output and support for a game that came out before the laptop was bought. :sarcastic: 

    I have high hopes, and hopefully someone will test this 'promise' and see if it's anywhere near the wide support they quote in their slide "Supported by most mahor OEM/ODM notebook manufacturers" ;
    http://www.brightsideofnews.com/Data/2010_2_17/AMD-brings-ton-of-features-to-the-Catalyst-drivers/AMD_ATI_Catalyst_10.3_675.jpg

    You will notice in your article that MY OEM Fujitsu is one of the A-holes who've opted out. :fou: 

    Which makes me extra mad because they provided a BS 'driver update utility' http://img208.imageshack.us/img208/1108/fdrivers.jpg which they later admitted was broken, and when questioned about updated drivers, they also said they would not be providing any and that we had to go to ATi... who told us to go to Fujitsu... etc. :heink: 

    Here's the description;

    Fujitsu Driver Update V1.2 L16
    1. Product overview
    ===========================================================
    Fujitsu Driver Update checks for and installs the latest drivers and
    software available from Fujitsu for your computer via the Internet. The
    program runs automatically as a system tray icon and notifies you when
    new updates are available. Also, you can check for updates at any time
    by right-clicking the tray icon and choosing "Check for updates..."


    In the 2+ year I've owned this laptop it's NEVER provided an update, even when there was a 2 critical ones on their site (for Robson and the Fingerprint Reader) plus a Bios update. For all that effort to make and adopt an application to pretend to do what we should be able to do on our own, it's pretty sad & slimy that they are opting out.

    Simple solution is to never recommend or buy the laptops of the OEMs who opt out. :pfff: 

    I'm fine because I know how to take other current laptop drivers and make them work (better than the driver mod tool), but most people can't which is why I won't recommend anyone not in the program.

    Meh, I've always only picked up the basic drivers from the company site and went directly to realtek/ati/nvidia etc. for everything else and just hope it works. Has so far. =)
    Though really, why opt out of others doing the work for you when you won't do it yourself?
  • 0 Hide
    TheGreatGrapeApe , February 17, 2010 10:00 AM
    The thing about the basic desktop package and modding it is that you miss out on some laptop-centric features, like the pixel mapping and originally most of the TV detection and HDMI support was better in the mobile drivers.
    Which is why I still prefer taking other companies' updates and then modding them myself to work on my laptop. I also still like to put ATT ontop of that driver package too to get the most out of them, but sometimes with the newest drivers cause problems with ATT until an update comes out so even that needs to be troubleshot.

    I'll probably still be able to get the drivers even though Fujitsu opts out, I'll just need to use one of the Lenovo or Dells at work to get them (that is if ATi even bothers with a very-fuk-eh-shun tool like they had for XP [despite direct download links elsewhere :whistle:  ]).
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , February 17, 2010 10:02 AM
    What about the gray lines problem? If I cannot play a 3d game who care about these extras?!
  • 0 Hide
    bourgeoisdude , February 17, 2010 12:14 PM
    "Currently, Sony, Toshiba, and Fujitsu are asking that their products not be updated by the new drivers."

    Sony's always been a dick about drivers; nvidia, intel, and now ati drivers are useless. Sony: "All your drivers are belong to us."
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