Catalyst 10.8 drivers improve performance, support WebGL

Radeon users, time to take a short break and install the latest Catalyst drivers. AMD has just put up this month's Catalyst package, numbered 10.8, and it promises a handful of performance improvements and some new functionality, like prettier video playback and support for hardware-accelerated 3D in web browsers.

Let's start with the performance. The release notes claim the following improvements—which, as always, are more likely to be best-case estimates than anything:

Far Cry 2:
  • Performance increases 2-6% on ATI Radeon™ HD 5800 Series single and ATI CrossFireX™ configurations.
  • Performance increases 2-4% on ATI Radeon™ HD 5700 Series single and ATI CrossFireX™ configurations.
  • Performance increases 3-8% on ATI Radeon™ HD 4800 Series single and ATI CrossFireX™ configurations.
Left 4 Dead 2:
  • Performance increases 3-5% on ATI CrossFireX™ configurations using the ATI Radeon™ HD 5800 series and ATI Radeon™ HD 5700 series.
  • Performance increases 5-10% on ATI Radeon™ HD 5600 series and ATI Radeon™ HD 5500 series configurations.

AMD also notes that performance "has been greatly improved" for folks running Eyefinity multi-display setups on four-way CrossFireX systems, although it doesn't cite any hard numbers.

Now for the new features. The 10.8 Catalysts support OpenGL ES 2.0, which enables 3D graphics acceleration in capable web browsers on Windows 7, Vista, and XP. You might recall OpenGL ES 2.0 support first appeared in some nightly browser builds last September. The public WebGL wiki now has a few links to capable Firefox, Safari, and Chrome pre-release versions, as well as a handful of WebGL demos. I was able to get some of those demos working in the Firefox 4 beta:


Ooh, shiny...

Moving on, AMD says default video options in the Catalyst control center "have been greatly enhanced to deliver the best quality video viewing experience." StarCraft II players will be happy to know the new Catalysts support antialiasing in the new Blizzard real-time strategy game, too.

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