ATI takes Catalyst driver mobile, promises more speed for graphics cards

Markham (ON) - Graphics chip maker ATI put its unified driver model into the spotlight. Future versions will be issued separately for mobile graphics chips. Software improvements will also bring a jump in performance - up to 50 percent, ATI promises.

Updating the graphics driver software could the most economical way for ATI users to improve the performance of their graphics card. According to the manufacturer, the upcoming versions 5.6, 5.7 and 5.8 will not only offer a range of new features but also speed up the hardware in certain applications.

This will be especially interesting for people who own a notebook with an ATI chip. Version 5.6 will bring "Catalyst Mobility" - or short "Catalyst M" - that will bring the feature set of the desktop driver plus some notebook specific functions, ATI said. Catalyst M will be updated every month and initially support only Windows XP systems in combination with Mobility Radeon X700 and X800 chips.

The desktop drivers will also receive several upgrades, but additional performance appears to be most important feature in upcoming Catalyst updates. For example Catalyst 5.6 will dramatically improve startup time of FarCry (from 5.13 to 1.05 seconds on a Radeon 9800 system) and several games such as Halo, chronicles of Riddick, Doom3, call of Duty and Lock on: Modern Air Combat will gain between five to 50 percent in speed, ATI indicated.

Catalyst 5.7 will include Media Center extensions such as TV resolutions (480i, 480p, 720p, 1080i, as well as1080p HDTV mode) and enhancements for Hypermemory cards. 5.7 is also the first Catalyst that offers "full" support of Microsoft's Windows XP 64-bit Edition and works with more than one graphics processor. According to ATI, new anti-aliasing modes for Multi-GPU - 8X, 10X, 12X, and 14X - are available for dual-graphics systems and increase image quality.

One generation further, catalyst 5.8 will introduce a new Control Center Wizard and support for DVI HDTVs.