AMD has released a new set of Catalyst graphics drivers for its Radeon graphics cards. The new 8.3 drivers bring several new features, including CrossFire X support, as well as significant speed improvements in a number of titles. Thanks to CrossFire X, users can slap as many as four Radeon HD 3850 or Radeon HD 3870 graphics cards (or two Radeon HD 3870 X2s) into a single system and harness their combined graphics processing power in games. We should have some benchmarks of CrossFire X for you very soon. Stay tuned.
Not everyone can afford to buy three of four graphics cards, of course, but there are additional features and performance improvements built into these latest drivers that should make other users happy. In its release notes for the drivers, AMD claims the following performance gains:
Call of Juarez: Performance scores increased up to 20% on ATI CrossFireX™ configured systems containing an ATI Radeon™ HD38x0 series of product Company of Heroes (DirectX 10): Performance scores increased up to 17% (especially at lower resolutions), on ATI Radeon™ HD38x0 products Crysis (DirectX 10): Performance scores increased up to 15% on all supported ATI Radeon™ products Lost Planet (DirectX 9): Performance scores increased up to 36% across all supported ATI Radeon™ products and in ATI CrossFireX™ configured systems Shadermark 2.1: Performance scores increased up to 35% across all supported Radeon™ products and in ATI CrossFireX™ configured systems Unreal Tournament 2004: Performance scores increased up to 10% on ATI CrossFireX™ configured system containing an ATI Radeon™ HD2400, HD2600, or HD3400 series of products
In addition to the above, users who install the new drivers will find:
- Hybrid CrossFire support. AMD says this feature will allow folks with AMD 780G integrated graphics to pair their IGP with a Radeon HD 3400 graphics card for a "significant 3D performance boost" and four-monitor support. Hybrid CrossFire is only supported in Windows Vista at the moment.
- DirectX 9 anti-aliasing improvements. Those include the addition of AA support to Unreal Tournament 3 and Gears of War as well as the ability to use "narrow tent" and "wide tent" custom filters with CrossFire SuperAA mode.
- HydraVision support in Windows Vista. The HydraVision tool allows users to manage multi-monitor setups by spreading their applications across a user-definable grid, setting hot keys to commands, and configuring virtual desktops. As many as nine virtual desktops are supported.
- New image scaling functionality for digital LCDs. These new drivers also introduce a "maintain aspect ratio" setting that conserves the aspect ratio of 4:3 or 5:4 full-screen images on wide-screen displays.
- New video quality controls. The controls include edge enhancement and noise reduction, and they can be set from the Avivo Video tab in the Catalyst Control Center.
- Tessellation support for Radeon HD 3800 graphics cards in DirectX 9 games. Tessellation involves generating high-polygon models from the original, lower-polygon versions within the GPU. Developers must first implement support for the feature in their games, though.
- DirectX 10.1 support for Radeon HD 3000-series cards. The new graphics application programming interface will show up with Vista Service Pack 1, and AMD is now ready for it. This feature, too, will need to be supported by game developers, which isn't a certainty considering Nvidia is sticking to DirectX 10 for the time being.
In addition to this cornucopia of new features, the Catalyst 8.3 release also fixes bugs in Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Enemy Territory: Quake Wars, Guitar Hero 3, Halo 2, Resident Evil 4, Splinter Cell Double Agent, World in Conflict, and World of Warcraft.
The Catalyst 8.3 release is available right now from AMD's Game website for Windows Vista and Windows XP in both 32-bit and 64-bit flavors. Detailed release notes for the new drivers can be read in this PDF document.