The new Catalyst: Changing the game for everyone .
The new Catalyst: Changing the game for everyone
Last month we let you know that AMD would be moving away from a monthly release schedule, which would let us focus on quality, performance and new features when it came time to release new drivers. Well, my friends, that time is upon us with today’s availability of the AMD Catalyst™ 12.6 (WHQL) and AMD Catalyst™ 12.7 (Beta) drivers.
AMD Catalyst™ 12.6 WHQL: A laser focus on quality
AMD Catalyst™ 12.6 represents a significant milestone in AMD’s driver development and planning. The list of resolved issues at the end of this post is certainly representative of our continued investment in quality, but it’s symbolic of a deeper systemic change. The truth is that our new driver cadence—releasing drivers as needed—gives us tremendous flexibility to provide releases that are worth upgrading to. By this I mean that you’ll begin to see meatier updates, with a single driver containing a number of fixes and enhancements that could have been deployed over several releases with our old schedule.
Furthermore, our new release program affords us the opportunity to be more innovative and thorough when it comes to exploring performance enhancements—a truth that bears out in this blog’s AMD Catalyst™ 12.7 section.
The long and short of it is that our new schedule is better for everyone involved. In good faith, these new driver releases are ambassadors of change, and a sign of things to come. So, if you’re an AMD Radeon™ user, I invite you to try this substantially improved user experience and encourage you to upgrade as soon as possible.
It also goes without saying that we’re always looking for further improvement, and the best way to do that is with feedback from experienced users like you. To collect that wisdom, we’ve overhauled the AMD Issue Reporting Form, which you can use to contribute bug reports. We have further assigned a team to sort and investigate the reports coming into this tool, and are ready to handle the feedback you generously provide to us.
AMD Catalyst™ 12.7 Beta: More performance in the world’s most popular games
For more advanced users, we are also making the AMD Catalyst™ 12.7 Beta available today. In addition to all of the stability fixes described above, 12.7 also introduces significant performance improvements for multiple generations of AMD Radeon™ graphics products. In fact, 12.7 is the highest-performing driver we’ve ever released! That means that you will see higher framerates in the games you love to play, more performance in applications, and improved system responsiveness. Put simply, users looking to get the most out of their GPU would be wise to install AMD Catalyst™ 12.7.
To demonstrate these performance improvements, we’ve assembled the following graphic, which shows the performance delta between AMD Catalyst™ 12.7 and the driver each GPU debuted with. Many of you are still using the drivers we initially offered with the AMD Radeon™ HD 7900/HD 7800/HD 7700 Series, so we wanted to show you that today is the day to upgrade.
Performance improvements in 12.7 Beta vs. GPU launch drivers
- Batman: Arkham City (Up to 65% faster on the AMD Radeon™ HD 7970)
- The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Up to 55% faster on the AMD Radeon™ HD 7700 Series)
- Total War: Shogun 2 (Up to 17% faster with the AMD Radeon™ HD 7900 Series)
- DiRT® 3 (Up to 7% faster with the AMD Radeon™ HD 7800 Series)
Improvements in 12.7 Beta vs. 12.4 WHQL
We know many of you like to stay more up to date with your driver releases, too, and you guys are probably running our most recent certified release, AMD Catalyst™ 12.4. Depending on the AMD Radeon™ graphics card you have, as well as your usual resolution, you could see many of these performance improvements:
- Diablo 3
- Users can now enable MSAA and SSAA for this title through the AMD Catalyst™ Control Center
- The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
- Up to 25% gain in indoor scenes
- Up to 7% gain in outdoor scenes
- Batman: Arkham City
- App-specific optimizations enable up to +6% performance with AA enabled
- Battlefield 3
- Up to +3% with MSAA enabled at high resolutions (e.g. 1080p+)
- Total War: Shogun II
- 4xAA and 8xAA mode received a 15% performance improvement through optimizations in the renderer.
- DiRT 3
- Gains of around 10% through code optimization
- Lost Planet 2
- Up to 2% performance gain via optimization of the tessellation shader
- Just Cause 2
- Up to 5% performance gain
- Deus Ex: Human Revolution
- Approximately 3% performance gain for this title at 1080p+ resolutions
- Crysis 2
- Up to 6% performance gain
New AMD Catalyst™ 12.7 Beta feature: Video Codec Engine
When we introduced the AMD Radeon™ HD 7000 Series in December, we also began discussing a feature of Graphics Core Next we call the Video Codec Engine, or VCE. VCE is a hardware mechanism that allows supporting AMD Radeon™ products to dramatically accelerate video encoding in a VCE-enabled application. Starting with AMD Catalyst™ 12.7, owners of AMD Radeon™ HD 7900/HD 7800/HD 7700 Series products are now ready take advantage of this feature in compatible applications like vReveal and ArcSoft MediaConverter.
More 12.7 benefits: Application performance
AMD Catalyst™ 12.7 also opens the floodgates on performance for non-gaming tasks, like file compression and video transcoding. As open compute languages like OpenCL™ and C++ AMP reach prominence, AMD Catalyst™ releases (like today’s) continue to unlock the potential of Graphics Core Nextfor great performance in the apps you use when you’re done gaming.
Take Handbrake, for example. Handbrake is a world renowned, open source video transcoding utility for Mac OS®, Windows® and Linux®. Millions of people use this application every day to prepare videos on their PC for use on the road with smartphones or tablets. Over the past year, AMD has worked closely with the development team to introduce OpenCL™ acceleration into the transcoding pipeline, and the performance is exceptional.The build of Handbrake with the performance below is expected to be available for public trial later this year.
AMD Radeon™ can make it faster and easier to convert your videos for smartphones, tablets, or HD Media Streamers thanks to new OpenCL support in Handbrake.Other applications used by millions of people every day, like WinZip®, can now leverage the tremendous compute power of Graphics Core Next, too. Compared to both processors and competing graphics cards, AMD Radeon™ products can free system resources and get you back to work more quickly.
Users know that compressing a file with CPU can slow your system down. With the new OpenCL support in WinZip 16.5, AMD Radeon™ products can eliminate that slowdown and zip files faster.We achieved such dramatic improvements for applications by optimizing GCN first for higher utilization of compute resources. At every opportunity, a product based on the GCN Architecture intelligently manages workloads in a way that yields more performance to applications.
The architectural improvements made by GCN are getting noticed: AMD and Adobe® cooperated on OpenCL support to make image editing faster on AMD Radeon™ in Photoshop CS6.Efficiency was a corollary (ed note: word of the day) goal. By transitioning to the industry’s first 28nm process, we could design an architecture that not only packed more compute units into a given space, but more complicated and capable compute units. Because of this, any of our GPUs can offer more performance than analogous products from previous or competing architectures. In fact, as of last week, the 12.7 Beta was utilized on the AMD Radeon™ HD 7970 GHz Edition for a consumer GPU world record: 4.3 TFLOPS of compute performance. That would certainly make quick work of tasks in apps like Adobe® Photoshop® CS6 and GIMP!
The image editing prowess of AMD Radeon™ continues with GIMP. AMD has worked with the GIMP Development Team to bring OpenCL™ acceleration to this famous open source app, too.
We’re just getting started
From here, we look forward to providing you with the highest quality when it comes to AMD Catalyst™ releases, and we hope that you find today’s driver releases to be an excellent indicator of things to come. If you would like to try either of these releases, you can find version 12.6 here or the 12.7 beta here.
Resolved issues in AMD Catalyst™ 12.6 WHQL and Catalyst 12.7 Beta
- Using AMD Radeon™ HD 7900 and AMD Radeon™ HD 7800 Series in TriFire or QuadFire configurations with AMD Eyefinity will no longer result in a BSOD when launching a DirectX® application.
- Multi-display configurations will no longer BSOD at the desktop on AMD Radeon™ HD 7000 Series GPUs.
- Additional fixes for AMD Radeon™ HD 7900, AMD Radeon™ HD 7800, and AMD Radeon™ HD 7700 Series GPUs hanging the system upon entering sleep. Some occurrences of this issue may be related to an outdated motherboard BIOS, however. Please ensure that your motherboard BIOS is up to date.
- Resolves AMD CrossFire™ technology scaling issues seen in AMD Catalyst™ 12.4 with The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.
- AMD Catalyst™ Control Center: Overdrive page is no longer intermittently missing
- AMD Catalyst™ Control Center: GPU Activity gauge is no longer intermittently missing
- Using AMD Radeon™ HD 7900 Series GPUs in an AMD CrossFire™ technology config no longer results in system hangs after cinematics in Call of Duty: Black Ops
- Heroes and Generals: Blocky corruptions in scenes with smoke effects under the DirectX® 11 mode are no longer experienced.
- DiRT Showdown: Improves scaling for AMD CrossFire™ technology configurations using the AMD Radeon™ HD 6000 Series
- HDMI® audio is no longer disabled if the connected HDTV is powered off/on.
Dual Graphics: new application profiles for DirectX® 9 applications
- Supported Dual Graphics APUs (DESKTOP)
- AMD Radeon™ HD 7660D (A10-5800K)
- AMD Radeon™ HD 7660D (A10-5700)
- AMD Radeon™ HD 7560D (A8-5600K)
- AMD Radeon™ HD 7560D (A8-5500)
- New AMD Dual Graphics profiles
- Diablo 3
- The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
- StarCraft 2
- Portal 2
- Call of Duty: Modern Warfare
- Call of Duty: Black Ops
The performance increases described in this post may vary by GPU, game resolution and chosen detail settings. All performance analyses described in this blog were obtained with the following system configuration: Intel® Core™ i7-3960X (3.33GHz), MSI X79A-GD65, 16GB DDR3-1600 and Windows® 7 x64. All performance increases in the AMD Catalyst™ 12.7 section were obtained with .inf version 8.981.2. Launch drivers for AMD Radeon™ HD 7000 Series products vary by the month of product release.
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