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     Catalyst 8.3: CrossFireX & Hybrid Graphics
      Posted on 05/03/2008 at 22:36 by Nicolas
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    ATI has just published Catalyst 8.3 which functions with all of this company’s GPUs/IGPs that support DirectX 9.0, 10 or 10.1.

    Of course, the two main innovations are the introduction of Hybrid Graphics and CrossFireX technologies. Thanks to the latter, it is now possible to combine the power of 3 or 4 GPUs. So AMD’s graphic division can boast of being the first to feature a quad GPU, although there is still a ways to go before it’s entirely functional.

    Indeed, if on the hardware side the CrossFireX proves to be rather flexible, in terms of software only DirectX 9 games are entirely supported at this time while of those developed with DirectX 10, only a few titles currently are. This is notably the case for Call of Juarez. As for those based on OpenGL, we will just have to be patient. Finally, CrossFireX is only possible with Windows Vista which has just had its first birthday.

    There are other innovations in these drivers including official support of DirectX 10.1 (should be available in mid-March at the same time as the Service Pack 1), improved multi-screen management for CrossFire configurations and anti-aliasing support for the Unreal Engine 3.0 (in DirectX 9). Tessellation is finally integrated to drivers but it is reserved to the Radeon HD 3800 and only possible in DirectX 9. Moreover, HydraVision is now supported in Windows Vista.

    Not being able to resist the opportunity at the CeBIT, ATI took advantage of the presence of the journalists to stress performance gains added with the evolution of CrossFire drivers since June.

    These figures however should be put into perspective because in the case of Company of Heroes in DirectX 10 or World in Conflict in DirectX 9 for example, they did not benefit (or very little) from CrossFire (and therefore a second GPU) before October. So in short, in these conditions it’s not difficult to show significant gains even if there has been real improvements in some cases.

    As for improvements with Catalyst 8.3, Company of Heroes (DirectX 10) can be up to 17% faster with Radeon HD 3800s (particularly in lower resolutions), Crysis (DirectX 10) up to 15% with all Radeon HDs, Lost Planet (DirectX 9) up to 36% and also with Radeons from previous generations, and Unreal Tournament 2004 up to 10% with CrossFire configurations equipped with Radeon HD 2400, HD 2600 or HD 3400s.

    To this add the traditional number of bug fixes. This notably concerns Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Enemy Territory: Quake Wars, Guitar Hero 3, Halo 2, Oblivion, Resident Evil 4, Splinter Cell Double Agent, World of Conflict and World of Warcraft.

    All the details are found in the release notes and for the drivers, which are destined for 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows XP & Vista, it’s here!

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