Now that Windows 7 has officially been released to manufacturing (RTM), expect to see third-party driver development kick into high gear, especially as the OS's October 22nd release date inches closer. AMD appears to be ready and has announced the release of the company's first WHQL-certified ATI Catalyst graphics drivers for the RTM.
AMD's Catalyst drivers are of the unified variety, meaning the same set works with both Windows 7 and Vista. With regards to Windows 7, AMD promises its drivers will offer stability and compatibility out of the gate, bring "full support for the visually stunning desktop environment of Windows 7," better gaming performance when compared to Vista, and full support for ATI FirePro professional graphics.
AMD/ATI this week released new Catalyst drivers, now in version 9.6. The new driver package sports a number of performance improvements, including:
Company of Heroes - up to 25 percent better performance with HD 4600 series
Crysis - up to 13 percent better performance in multi-GPU configurations
Crysis Warhead - up to 11 percent better performance in mutli-GPU configurations
World in Conflict - up to 30 percent better performance in settings that were previously CPU limited
In addition to goosing performance in a handful of titles, Catalyst 9.6 also squashes a boatload of bugs and resolves a ton of issues across all current Windows operating systems. Some of these include:
Opening Crossfire pages no longer causes Catalyst Control Center to stop responding (all Windows OSes)
Catalyst Control Center no longer appears interlaced when automatic deinterlacing is enabled (all Windows OSes)
On some configurations, video artifacts are no longer visible during playback of transcoded video files (Vista)
Team Fortress 2 some slowdowns no longer occur during gameplay (XP)
Catalyst Control Center no longer shows Crossfire as disabled (Windows 7)
For a full list of improvements (and there are many), refer to the release notes (PDF). Driver downloads available here.
It took a bit of waiting, but those Catalyst 9.5 downloads that started appearing on the web days ago are finally available direct from AMD. For those of you who grew impatient and snagged the download from an alternate source, they should be the same ones now appearing on AMD's site.
Catalyst 9.5 promises a handful of performance improvements, including:
Performance gains of up to 11 percent for single GPU and ATI CrossFireX configurations with AA enabled in Unigine Tropics DX9
Up to a 10 percent boost in Company of Heroes
Up to a 10 percent boost in BattleForce for CrossFireX configurations
Several bugs have been squashed in the new release, a handful of which apply to Windows 7. Win 7 owners should no longer see dropped frames while playing certain Blu-ray interlaced content, and moving a video clip across an extended desktop should no longer cause the system to flicker or for the media player to stop working.
AMD has just released new Catalyst 9.4 drivers for ATI videocard owners. In keeping with the promise the company previously made, Catalyst 9.4 offers unified support for Windows 7, XP, and Vista.
Highlighted in the 9.4 release is the new ATI OverDrive auto-tuning application. Designed for the ATI Radeon HD 4000 series, the new OverDrive module claims to "accurately determine the best overclocked engine and memory values for ATI OverDrive supported ATI Radeon graphics accelerators." AMD cautions it will not warranty busted videocards that give up the ghost as a result of using the utility, which further highlights why it's so cool XFX, who will have your back, now sells ATI-branded cards.
Catalyst 9.4 resolves a number if issues covering all supported operating systems. Among the resolutions:
World of Warcraft no longer flickers when Shadow is set to medium/high in a CrossFire configuration (Vista)
Resolutions above 1024 x 768 will now full screen properly for specific HDMI displays (Vista)
Overlay Theater Mode display no longer corrupt after enabling 3D screen saver (XP)
Display now redraws correctly in City of Villains after changing graphics settings (Windows 7)
No more jitter or flicker caused by WinDVD9 HD playback (Windows 7)
Windows 7 is already feeling the love from both graphics camps. Earlier this month, Nvidia released a specialized Forceware driver for the beta OS along with the promise of regular updates, and now AMD has followed suit with its new ATI Catalyst 9.3 driver this week. However, the new Catalyst driver rolls both Windows 7 and Vista support into a single download, allowing the company to lay claim as offering the "first unified driver installation package to incorporate Windows 7 support." AMD says future Catalyst releases will also be unified for both the current and upcoming Windows OSes.
"AMD's expertise in visual computing shines through in the combined experience of Windows 7 and ATI Radeon graphics," said Anantha Kancherla, group manager responsible for Windows graphics, Microsoft. "With today's release of a Windows 7 unified driver, AMD once again demonstrates its ability to deliver perfromance and cutting-edge driver support."
Hit the jump to find out what else to expect from the new Catalyst 9.3 unified driver.
ATI has just released its Catalyst 9.1 driver package, bringing full OpenGL 3.0 support to the table, a feature which was made available to Nvidia videocard owners for the first time a month ago. While Direct3D has emerged as a front runner for Windows gaming, it should be noted that OpenGL 3.0's features can be enabled on both XP and Vista, and also Linux and Mac OS.
As can be expected are a number of bug fixes with the new driver, but perhaps surprisingly to some, ATI's Catalyst 9.1 shares the love with Linux, an area long considered a weak spot. ATI says the new driver introduces support for Ubuntu 8.10, while also enabling Hybrid CrossFireX. Also in the driver's bag of open-source tricks is MultiView support, which can be enabled using single or multiple GPU configurations.
Have better things to do than to surf your videocard maker's website every day to check for updated drivers? That's okay, because we've done the legwork for you and found new drivers, so go ahead an hightail it over to ATI.
The just released Catalyst 8.9 driver package applies to both Windows XP and Vista in 32- and 64-bit trim. Home theater buffs should be particularly interested in the new drivers, as 8.9 introduces a 1080P @ 50Hz custom display mode for HDTVs. On the extreme gaming front, ATI's OverDrive overclocking utility now supports quad CrossFireX configurations, giving gamers the ability to overclock each card using manual controls or via the auto-tuning option.
Other goodies include OpenGL 3.0 extension support and several bug fixes for a variety of games, including recent releases Age of Conan and Spore.