05-Jul-12 // AMD Catalyst™ 12.6 WHQL: A laser focus on quality
AMD Catalyst™ 12.6 WHQL: A laser focus on quality
AMD Catalyst™ 12.6 represents a significant milestone in AMD’s driver development and planning. The list of resolved issues at the end of this post is certainly representative of our continued investment in quality, but it’s symbolic of a deeper systemic change. The truth is that our new driver cadence—releasing drivers as needed—gives us tremendous flexibility to provide releases that are worth upgrading to. By this I mean that you’ll begin to see meatier updates, with a single driver containing a number of fixes and enhancements that could have been deployed over several releases with our old schedule.
Furthermore, our new release program affords us the opportunity to be more innovative and thorough when it comes to exploring performance enhancements—a truth that bears out in this blog’s AMD Catalyst™ 12.7 section.
The long and short of it is that our new schedule is better for everyone involved. In good faith, these new driver releases are ambassadors of change, and a sign of things to come. So, if you’re an AMD Radeon™ user, I invite you to try this substantially improved user experience and encourage you to upgrade as soon as possible.
It also goes without saying that we’re always looking for further improvement, and the best way to do that is with feedback from experienced users like you. To collect that wisdom, we’ve overhauled the AMD Issue Reporting Form, which you can use to contribute bug reports. We have further assigned a team to sort and investigate the reports coming into this tool, and are ready to handle the feedback you generously provide to us.
AMD Catalyst™ 12.7 Beta: More performance in the world’s most popular games
For more advanced users, we are also making the AMD Catalyst™ 12.7 Beta available today. In addition to all of the stability fixes described above, 12.7 also introduces significant performance improvements for multiple generations of AMD Radeon™ graphics products. In fact, 12.7 is the highest-performing driver we’ve ever released! That means that you will see higher framerates in the games you love to play, more performance in applications, and improved system responsiveness. Put simply, users looking to get the most out of their GPU would be wise to install AMD Catalyst™ 12.7.
To demonstrate these performance improvements, we’ve assembled the following graphic, which shows the performance delta between AMD Catalyst™ 12.7 and the driver each GPU debuted with. Many of you are still using the drivers we initially offered with the AMD Radeon™ HD 7900/HD 7800/HD 7700 Series, so we wanted to show you that today is the day to upgrade.
Performance improvements in 12.7 Beta vs. GPU launch drivers
Batman: Arkham City (Up to 65% faster on the AMD Radeon™ HD 7970)
Improvements in 12.7 Beta vs. 12.4 WHQL
New AMD Catalyst™ 12.7 Beta feature: Video Codec Engine
When we introduced the AMD Radeon™ HD 7000 Series in December, we also began discussing a feature of Graphics Core Next we call the Video Codec Engine, or VCE. VCE is a hardware mechanism that allows supporting AMD Radeon™ products to dramatically accelerate video encoding in a VCE-enabled application. Starting with AMD Catalyst™ 12.7, owners of AMD Radeon™ HD 7900/HD 7800/HD 7700 Series products are now ready take advantage of this feature in compatible applications like vReveal and ArcSoft MediaConverter.
More 12.7 benefits: Application performance
AMD Catalyst™ 12.7 also opens the floodgates on performance for non-gaming tasks, like file compression and video transcoding. As open compute languages like OpenCL™ and C++ AMP reach prominence, AMD Catalyst™ releases (like today’s) continue to unlock the potential of Graphics Core Next for great performance in the apps you use when you’re done gaming.
Take Handbrake, for example. Handbrake is a world renowned, open source video transcoding utility for Mac OS®, Windows® and Linux®. Millions of people use this application every day to prepare videos on their PC for use on the road with smartphones or tablets. Over the past year, AMD has worked closely with the development team to introduce OpenCL™ acceleration into the transcoding pipeline, and the performance is exceptional. The build of Handbrake with the performance below is expected to be available for public trial later this year.
Other applications used by millions of people every day, like WinZip®, can now leverage the tremendous compute power of Graphics Core Next, too. Compared to both processors and competing graphics cards, AMD Radeon™ products can free system resources and get you back to work more quickly.
We achieved such dramatic improvements for applications by optimizing GCN first for higher utilization of compute resources. At every opportunity, a product based on the GCN Architecture intelligently manages workloads in a way that yields more performance to applications.
Efficiency was a corollary (ed note: word of the day) goal. By transitioning to the industry’s first 28nm process, we could design an architecture that not only packed more compute units into a given space, but more complicated and capable compute units. Because of this, any of our GPUs can offer more performance than analogous products from previous or competing architectures. In fact, as of last week, the 12.7 Beta was utilized on the Club 3D Radeon™ HD 7970 GHz Edition for a consumer GPU world record: 4.3 TFLOPS of compute performance. That would certainly make quick work of tasks in apps like Adobe® Photoshop® CS6 and GIMP!
We’re just getting started
From here, we look forward to providing you with the highest quality when it comes to AMD Catalyst™ releases, and we hope that you find today’s driver releases to be an excellent indicator of things to come. If you would like to try either of these releases, you can find version 12.6 here or the 12.7 beta here.
Resolved issues in AMD Catalyst™ 12.6 WHQL and Catalyst 12.7 Beta
Using AMD Radeon™ HD 7900 and AMD Radeon™ HD 7800 Series in TriFire or QuadFire configurations with AMD Eyefinity will no longer result in a BSOD when launching a DirectX® application.
All performance analyses described were obtained with the following system configuration: Intel® Core™ i7-3960X (3.33GHz), MSI X79A-GD65, 16GB DDR3-1600 and Windows® 7 x64. All performance increases in the AMD Catalyst™ 12.7 section were obtained with .inf version 8.981.2.