ATI has unveiled its Catalyst 3.8 drivers and there’s actually quite a bit going on in this new release. Though ATI isn’t making any wild claims that the new Catalysts will revolutionize DirectX 9 performance, there are a couple of intriguing new features for enthusiasts to play with.
- Hydravision – While ATI hasn’t added any Hydravision features to Catalyst 3.8, they have offered a simplified version of the interface to help more mainstream users get the most of two screens easily.
- Uninstaller – Included by popular demand, ATI’s new uninstaller will purge a system of any previous Catalyst drivers.
- Profiles – Catalyst 3.8 supports multiple profiles that will allow users to have a number of pre-defined image quality settings to switch between. A future Catalyst release will automatically launch application-specific profiles.
The above features will be available to all Radeon users, but ATI has also whipped up a couple of special new features to take advantage of its latest Radeon XT hardware:
- Overdrive – The Catalyst 3.8 drivers can dynamically overclock Radeon 9600 and 9800 XT VPUs to improve performance. Overdrive automatically cranks up core clock speeds based on the VPU’s temperature, which should improve performance on well-cooled graphics cards. Overdrive can be disabled, of course, and it will never run a VPU below its default clock speed.
- VPU recover – Ever had a graphics driver crash your entire PC? Never again; the Catalyst 3.8s are capable of resetting only the graphics core to recover from what could have caused a total system crash. The driver may be able to fully recover the system, or at the very least drop into a software rendering mode so the PC can be shut down properly. VPU recovery is apparently a requirement for Microsoft’s upcoming “Longhorn” version of Windows.
ATI has also made a new commitment to provide more frequent Linux driver updates. A new unified Linux driver with open source 2D and closed source 3D components will be updated six times a year.
Update: VPU recover isn’t limited to the latest Radeon XTs; the crash recovery feature also works with older Radeons.