During CES, we were able to meet with Terry Makedon, head of Catalyst, who told us about the Catalyst innovations on the way. The information was confidential up until today.
In the Catalyst 10.2s you will find:
A new CrossFire X architecture. All the multi-GPU code will be taken out of the 3D driver and be put into a multi-GPU dedicated driver. This is a cleaner system that will allow faster introduction of innovations both in Direct3D and OpenGL and will facilitate asymetric multi-GPU support, available first for the AMD 785G and Radeon HD 5400 combination. AMD has taken the opportunity of putting multi-GPU profiles in games in an external XML format file that can be easily updated to support new games. At last!
The Radeon HD 5000 advanced energy economy mode that allows you to almost completely shut down secondary card(s) in a multi-GPU configuration will now be included in the general consumer versions of the drivers. It’s currently only in the beta versions but allows you to economise tens of watts, with the Radeon HD 5000 series being relatively economical in idle.
CrossFire X support in Eyefinity mode will be built in to certified versions of the drivers as well as audio support through DisplayPort.
Moving on to the Catalyst 10.3s, this is what they bring:
A driver adapted to facilitate stereoscopic 3D. AMD won’t be offering either a direct hardware or software solution but will include extensions in its drivers to allow any third party manufacturer to put effective support into place easily. AMD says that iZ3D and DDD are offering compatible solutions. Note on the subject of stereoscopic 3D that hardware acceleration support for playing 3D Blurays will come later as AMD is still evaluating which products will be able to handle it.
Support for mobile GPUs. At last! This will be for Radeon HD 2000s and above. AMD is very much aware that certain laptop manufacturers won’t be very happy, above all on some product ranges (pro) but authorising installation of drivers only when manufacturers give their say-so has proved ineffective. AMD is therefore doing things the other way round: all laptops will be supported at first but if a manufacturer requests it, AMD will blacklist the model or models in question.
Display bezel compensation will be included. This option means that the thickness of screen frames used in Eyefinity can be taken into account so as to avoid gaps in the image. In contrast to the Matrox solution that simply moves the image onto the screens left and right, which means you get black bands on the sides, the AMD solution consists in calculating the image in a higher resolution than the display resolution. A utility will be supplied to set it all up easily.
Still with Eyefinity, you’ll be able to set the colours on each screen separately which allows for improved support of multi-screen solutions with different models. It will also be possible to create several large areas/several groups of screens. Lastly, display profiles will correctly record Eyefinity settings to allow you to go from one configuration to another rapidly.
Support for the Drag & Drop function will be updated which will improve performances and add support for more formats.