ATI releases Catalyst 5.6 drivers

ATI has released Catalyst 5.6 drivers, bringing new features and performance improvements to Radeon graphics cards. The new drivers apparently improve performance in a number of games, including DOOM 3, Chronicles of Riddick, Call of Duty, and Lock On: Modern Air Combat. Video playback performance has also been improved, with the latest drivers leveraging DirectX 9 pixel shaders to accelerate WMV9 playback. ATI claims that its WMV9 acceleration can lower CPU utilization by up to 50% and reduce the probability of dropped frames.

In addition to improving performance, the latest Catalyst drivers also bring a couple of enhancements to Catalyst Control Center that should make the interface load faster and be more responsive. ATI has also added a real-time video preview tab to CCC, allowing users to see how various video settings will impact a sample video.

Mobile users will be pleased to note that ATI is bringing its Catalyst drivers to laptops. ATI is initially targeting Mobility X700 and X800 products, but will eventually add support for all DirectX 9-class mobile graphics chips. However, although the Catalyst drivers will support multiple mobile products, notebook vendors will have to sign up with ATI to allow the drivers to be installed on their laptops.

Catalyst 5.6 drivers are available today, but we can also reveal several interesting details on upcoming Catalyst 5.7 and 5.8 releases. Perhaps the most intriguing development comes in Catalyst 5.7, when ATI will bring HyperMemory technology to existing 64Mb and 128MB graphics cards. For Catalyst 5.8, ATI will introduce a new Catalyst Control Center wizard, which aims to guide less experienced users through common tasks. Catalyst 5.8 will also boast improved HDTV support.

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