Catalyst 8.12 drivers bring CAL runtime, speedups


— 10:47 AM on December 10, 2008

AMD's graphics driver developers haven't been twiddling their thumbs. They've just released a new batch of Catalyst drivers that brings not only full ATI Stream support and a new video transcoder, but also a host of (claimed) performance boosts in games.

Perhaps most importantly, this release includes the Compute Abstraction Layer runtime. As we reported last month, the CAL allows apps developed with AMD's Brook+ stream computing language to run on Radeon GPUs, and its presence in Catalyst drivers should accelerate the arrival of consumer GPGPU apps for AMD cards.

Speaking of which, the new driver package also includes the Avivo video converter—a video transcoder that uses the GPU's computing resources to do much of the work, a bit like Elemental's Badaboom. Radeon HD 4600- and 4800-series card users will be able to access the transcoder through the Catalyst Control Center's basic view.

Gamers will probably be more excited about the latest round of performance tune-ups, though. Here's what those folks can expect, in AMD's words:

  • Call of Duty: World at War DX9 – performance gains of up to 21% for Single and Crossfire mode. Performance gains were noticed on all Radeon HD48xx.
  • Crysis DX10 – performance gains of up to 25% for Single and Crossfire mode. Performance gains were noticed on all Radeon HD4xxx.
  • Crysis Warhead DX10 – performance gains of up to 13% for Single card mode and up to 16% for Crossfire mode. Performance gains were noticed on all Radeon HD4xxx.
  • Devil May Cry 4 DX10– performance gains of up to 6% for Single and Crossfire mode. Performance gains were noticed on all Radeon HD4xxx and HD38xx.
  • Fallout 3 – performance gains of up to 15% for Single card mode.
  • Far Cry 2 DX10 – performance gains of up to 10% for Single card mode and up to 57% in Crossfire mode. Performance gains were noticed on all Radeon HD4xxx and HD38xx.
  • FEAR DX9 – performance gains of up to 6% for Single and Crossfire mode. Performance gains were noticed on Radeon HD4870X2 and HD4870.
  • Hellgate: London DX10 – performance gains of up to 6% for Single card mode and up to 10% for Crossfire mode. Performance gains were noticed on all Radeon HD4xxx.
  • Left 4 Dead DX9– performance gains of up to 10% for Single card mode and up to 5% for Crossfire mode. Performance gains were noticed on all Radeon HD4870 series.
  • Lost Planet Colonies DX10 – performance gains of up to 10% for Single and Crossfire mode. Performance gains were noticed on all Radeon HD4xxx and HD38xx.
  • Prey OGL – performance gains of up to 15% for Crossfire mode. Performance gains were noticed on Radeon HD4870 1GB products, HD46xx, HD45xx.
  • S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky – performance gains of up to 10% for Crossfire mode. Performance gains were noticed on all Radeon HD4xxx and HD38xx.
  • Unreal Tournament 3 DX9 – performance gains of up to 18% for Single card mode and up to 15% in Crossfire mode, especially in cases where AA is enabled. Performance gains were noticed on all Radeon HD4xxx and HD38xx.
  • The Catalyst 8.12 release also includes a video noise reduction filter that "removes ghosting artifacts while preserving details of the original video," and the release notes mention a handful of miscellaneous bug fixes. (Incidentally, the list of resolved bugs includes, "The display driver may fail after being installed on an ATI Radeon HD 4800 Series or ATI Radeon HD 4870 adapter," which sounds somewhat like the bluescreening problem we wrote about a few days ago.)

    You can grab the Catalyst 8.12 release for Windows XP and Windows Vista in 32-bit and 64-bit variants right from AMD's Game website. AMD links PDF release notes straight from the driver download pages.

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