Catalyst 11.2 drivers offer image quality tweaks

Another month, another Catalyst driver release for Radeon graphics cards. AMD hasn't graced us with a simutlaneous hotfix this time, but the Catalyst 11.2 driver package includes plenty of changes and additions as it is. The download links, as always, reside on AMD's Game website.

What's new? AMD opens the release notes with talk of changes to its Catalyst AI texture filtering scheme. Here's the skinny:

  • The Quality setting has now been improved to match the High Quality setting in all respects but one; it enables an optimization that limits tri-linear anisotropic filtering to areas surrounding texture mipmap level transitions, while doing bilinear anisotropic filtering elsewhere. This optimization offers a way to improve filtering performance without visibly affecting image quality
  • The Performance setting has been updated to address the sharpness of the default Quality setting causing shimmering in certain cases. It now provides a smoother filtering option that eliminates most shimmering while preserving the improved detail provided by anisotropic filtering.

There's more. AMD has expanded the Catalyst Control Center with new tessellation controls for 5000- and 6000-series Radeon HD graphics cards. The default "AMD Optimized" setting purportedly balances performance and image quality on a "per application basis," although no application profiles are included yet. Owners of Radeon HD 5000-series GPUs should also be happy to know that they can now enjoy morphological antialiasing, just like their friends who upgraded to the 6000 series. You can read our take on morphological AA here.

Oh, and AMD says you can now change video quality settings while playing back Blu-ray 3D media on 6000-series graphics cards. I'm sure all of the five people who feel the need to do that will be ecstatic.

That's it for the new functionality. To top off this release, AMD has tuned performance in a couple of games for users of single Radeon HD 5000-series cards. Call of Duty: Black Ops purportedly runs up to 11% faster with antialiasing and anisotropic filtering enabled, and disabling AA/AF will net a frame rate increase of as much as 4% in Batman: Arkham Asylum. Detailed release notes can be perused on this page.

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