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AMD Releases Catalyst 12.6 WHQL and 12.7 Beta

Finally, AMD released a new WHQL-signed Catalyst driver. Catalyst 12.6 WHQL, along with Catalyst 12.7 beta, were released on Thursday. Catalyst 12.6 WHQL ships with a wide range of stability optimizations, while 12.7 beta ships with the same, plus performance optimizations for a wide range of games.

With Catalyst 12.6 WHQL, AMD fixed several outstanding bugs such as GPUs with ZeroCore hanging when the system goes to S2/S3 sleep, certain CrossFire setups hanging after cutscenes in Call of Duty: Black Ops, display corruption in Heroes and Generals in DirectX 11 mode, CrossFire + Eyefinity with Radeon HD 7000 series GPUs resulting in BSOD errors, etc. Catalyst 12.7 beta includes all these, plus performance improvements for games, except that it lacks WHQL certification. Optimizations include up to 25% in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, 15% in Total War: Shogun, 10% in DiRT 3, 6% in Batman: Arkham City, and 3% in Battlefield 3.

DOWNLOAD: AMD Catalyst 12.6 WHQL for Windows 7/Vista 64-bit | Windows 7/Vista 32-bit | Windows XP 32-bit | Windows XP 64-bit

A list of changes follows:

NVIDIA Releases WHQL-Certified GeForce Drivers for Windows 8

NVIDIA rolled out the first WHQL-certified GeForce drivers for Microsoft's upcoming Windows 8 operating system. The company just released GeForce 302.82 WHQL for desktop GPUs running on Windows 8 Release Preview. Notebook GPU users, on the other hand, will have to wait a little longer, and continue using the GeForce 302.80, which has been out since 15th June. NVIDIA announced that it was working on dishing out the first WHQL-certified graphics drivers for Windows 8 since late May. Version 302.82 WHQL doesn't appear to come with a contingent of performance updates, at least not according to its release notes document. It's likely to be based on Release Driver 302, with the Microsoft WHQL certification for Windows 8. The driver is meant only for Windows 8, and shouldn't be used with Windows 7 or Vista.

DOWNLOAD: NVIDIA GeForce 302.82 WHQL for Windows 8 64-bit and 32-bit

No More Monthly AMD Catalyst Updates?

It's 31st, and Catalyst 12.5 WHQL is nowhere in sight. According to an article by Benchmarks3D, you should give up on it, for AMD is calling quits with the monthly driver update cycle. However, AMD will focus on a staggered driver update cycle that will address issues with games as they crop up. In other words, end-users could end up seeing new drivers as hotfixes more often, depending on launches of games and new Radeon hardware, but that could also mean long periods of lull when there are no major issues to address, or no new hardware to improve drivers for.

Source: Benchmarks3D

NVIDIA Delivers the GeForce 301.42 WHQL Driver

Santa Clara-based GPU designer NVIDIA Corp. has now made available the first WHQL-certified unified driver from the R300 family, the GeForce 301.42. This latest release includes the PhysX System Software v9.12.0213, the HD Audio v1.3.16.0 driver, and features support for the GeForce 6, 7, 8, 9, 100, 200, 300, 400, 500 and 600 Series desktop cards (including the recently-launched GeForce GTX 690 and GTX 670).

Windows 7/Vista 32-bit | Windows 7/Vista 64-bit | Windows XP 32-bit | Windows XP 64-bit

AMD Catalyst 12.5 Beta Leaked

Just days after the monthly release of AMD Catalyst, Catalyst 12.4 WHQL, a beta built (version 8.97) of the driver, included in Catalyst 12.5 Beta, has been leaked to the web. This build updates both the display driver and Catalyst Control Center. There is no word on exactly what the new version brings to the table, and it's a very early version in the build up to Catalyst 12.5 WHQL slated for late May, so tread with extreme caution.

DOWNLOAD: AMD Catalyst 12.5 Beta (ver. 8.97 display driver) for Windows 7/VistaSource: NGOHQ

AMD Releases the Catalyst 12.4 WHQL Driver

AMD has today let loose the newest Catalyst release, the WHQL-certified Catalyst 12.4 which includes the 8.961 graphics driver and features support for the Radeon HD 2000, HD 3000, HD 4000, HD 5000, HD 6000 and HD 7000 Series desktop cards.

Download links Windows 7/Vista (32-bit) | Windows 7/Vista (64-bit) | Windows XP (32-bit) | Windows XP (64-bit)

Catalyst 12.4 Release Highlights

New Features

Windows XP support for the AMD Radeon HD 7900 Series, AMD Radeon HD 7800, and AMD Radeon HD 7700 Series
- In addition to Windows 7 and Windows Vista support, Catalyst 12.4 now also introduces Windows XP (64-bit/32-bit) support for the AMD Radeon HD 7900, AMD Radeon HD 7800, and AMD Radeon HD 7700 Series

Super Sampling Anti-Aliasing: Level of Detail (LOD) Image Quality enhancements
- Supported on the AMD Radeon HD 7900, AMD Radeon HD 7800, and AMD Radeon HD 7700 Series
- LOD Image quality enhancements have been improved when enabling Super Sample Anti-Aliasing and Adaptive Anti-Aliasing through the AMD Catalyst Control Center for DirectX 10 and DirectX 11 applications.
- Applications must support in game Anti-Aliasing for the feature to work (Forced on Anti-Aliasing through the Catalyst Control Center is not supported for DirectX 10 and DirectX 11 applications)

Pre-HD 5000 Will be Removed from Catalyst Mainline, But Onto a New Support Model: AMD

AMD confirmed to TechPowerUp its plans of removing pre-HD 5000 series Radeon GPUs from the Catalyst mainline update model (where WHQL-certified driver updates are released on a monthly basis), but that doesn't necessarily mean a discontinuation of support for those products. AMD told us that it is merely relocating pre-HD 5000 GPUs (under the Radeon HD 2000, HD 3000, and HD 4000 series), to a new update model that will have new WHQL-certified drivers being released on a quarterly basis.

This model is carved out of the mainline, because the driver team is encountering a diminishing number of problems that can be addressed, with the older chips, and can pool them up over a quarter and release updates for them. The driver team can then focus on Radeon HD 5000 (and later) product lines. AMD also talked about the current lack of driver support for pre-HD 5000 GPUs on Windows 8 consumer preview. It said that the driver that Microsoft ships with Windows 8 will support for pre-HD 5000 GPUs, and of course in the future AMD will have WHQL-certified Windows 8 drivers for these chips, part of its new update model. A variant of the driver version 8.97, released in May, will be the first pre-HD 5000 driver in this new update model.

A transcript of AMD's statement follows.

GeForce GTX 680 Release Driver Limits PCI-Express to Gen 2.0 on X79/SNB-E Systems

Users of systems running Core i7 processors in the LGA2011 package and X79 chipset motherboards will find that their GeForce GTX 680 will not run at PCI-Express 3.0 x16 mode, using launch drivers. This is because NVIDIA decided against implementing Gen 3.0 support for the new GPU on X79/SNB-E systems, at the very last moment. Pre-launch drivers, including the driver that ships on discs with the graphics cards, will let the GPU run at Gen 3.0 mode on some X79/SNB-E systems, however the post-launch stable drivers (such as GeForce 301.10 WHQL), won't.

The specifications page of GeForce GTX 680 on GeForce.com has been updated to mention this:
GeForce GTX 680 supports PCI Express 3.0. The Intel X79/SNB-E PCI Express 2.0 platform is only currently supported up to 5GT/s (PCIE 2.0) bus speeds even though some motherboard manufacturers have enabled higher 8GT/s speeds.
Sources in the PC motherboard industry we spoke with, confirmed this change. PCI-Express 3.0 x16, for now, might only run on upcoming "Ivy Bridge" Core systems, running on motherboards with PCI-Express 3.0 compliant components. NVIDIA could be working to fix the issue.

Update 3/23, 21:56
NVIDIA courteously responded to our article, with a statement. Here's the statement verbatim:
While X79/SNB-E is a native Gen2 platform, some motherboard manufacturers have enabled Gen3 speeds. With our GTX 680 launch drivers, we will only be supporting Gen2 speeds on X79/SNB-E while we work on validating X79/SNB-E at these faster speeds. Native Gen3 chipsets (like Ivy Bridge) will still run at full Gen3 speeds with our launch drivers.

GeForce GTX 680 supports PCI Express 3.0. It operates properly within the SIG PCI Express Specification and has been validated on multiple upcoming PCI Express 3.0 platforms. Some motherboard manufacturers have released updated SBIOS to enable the Intel X79/SNB-E PCI Express 2.0 platform to run at up to 8GT/s bus speeds. NVIDIA is currently working to validate X79/SNB-E with GTX 680 at these speeds with the goal of enabling 8GT/s via a future software update. Until this validation is complete, the GTX 680 will operate at PCIE 2.0 speeds on X79/SNB-E-based motherboards with the latest web drivers.
This statement confirms our assertions made in the article. NVIDIA's statement on the GeForce.com product page originally formed the basis of this article, which we pasted verbatim, while preparing the article. Motherboard manufacturers have extensively marketed their LGA2011 products as natively supporting PCI-Express Gen 3.0 (8 GT/s). What's more, the datasheet of Intel Core i7 LGA2011 processors (refer 1.2.2) clearly mentions the PCI-Express root complex as supporting 8 GT/s. AMD Southern Islands GPUs have supported PCI-Express Gen 3.0 on LGA2011 platforms since day one.

NVIDIA Releases the 301.10 WHQL Driver for the GeForce GTX 680

Since the GTX 680 will be launched later today, NVIDIA has decided to go ahead and publish the first (official) driver that supports its Kepler-powered card. Known as 301.10, this driver is WHQL certified, it only knows the GeForce GTX 680 (you'll need a modified inf file for 'expanded' support), and is bundled with the PhysX System Software v9.12.0213 (plus HD Audio v1.3.12.0).

GeForce 301.10 WHQL (Windows 7/Vista 32-bit) / GeForce 301.10 WHQL (Windows 7/Vista 64-bit)

NVIDIA Delivers the GeForce 296.10 WHQL and 296.17 Drivers

Santa Clara-based NVIDIA Corp. has today made available a couple of new graphics drivers, the WHQL-certified GeForce 296.10 for Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7, and the GeForce 296.17 preview driver specifically made for Windows 8. Both drivers feature support for GeForce 6, 7, 8, 9, 100, 200, 300, 400 and 500 series desktop cards.

GeForce 296.10 WHQL - Windows Vista/7 (32-bit) | Windows Vista/7 (64-bit) | Windows XP (32-bit) | Windows XP (64-bit)
GeForce 296.17 - Windows 8 (32-bit) | Windows 8 (64-bit)

AMD Catalyst 12.2 WHQL Now Available

AMD finally posted Catalyst 12.2 WHQL driver suite, the one package that installs drivers and system software for AMD/ATI Radeon GPUs, AMD APU graphics, AMD chipset-integrated graphics, etc. Catalyst 12.2 WHQL brings official support for Radeon HD 7700 series, and Radeon HD 7900 series (for Windows 7/Vista only, for Windows XP it will be added with Catalyst 12.4). Super-sampling AA (SSAA) is now available for DirectX 10 and DirectX 11 applications, supported on the Radeon HD 7700 series and HD 7900 series. It must be enabled through Catalyst Control Center, and application profiles, and games should support in-game AA modes.

AMD also introduced enhancements for Eyefinity 2.1, including custom-resolutions, dynamic configuration changes (switching between different display configurations will occur automatically by loading the appropriate profile, when plugging/unplugging displays); Windows Taskbar re-positioning, and improvements with the Eyefinity Profile Manager. For more information, please refer to the Release Notes document.

DOWNLOAD: AMD Catalyst 12.2 WHQL

Windows 8 xHCI Driver Performance Tested

With Windows 8, Microsoft is integrating an eXtensible Host Controller Interface (xHCI) driver, which serves as a common driver for USB 3.0 host controllers. Expreview put this driver to test with a Renesas USB 3.0 controller, and compared its performance to when the controller is backed by Renesas' own driver (ver. 2.1.28.0). The controller is a μD720200F1 found on ASUS P8P67 Deluxe motherboard. The reviewer used Orico UE3 16GB USB 3.0 flash drive that uses SLC NAND flash memory.

The flash was put through four synthetic tests on a constant hardware setup, differences in performance were attributed to the drivers. Tests included HDTune, ATTO, AS SSD, and CrystalDiskMark. The xHCI driver provided by Microsoft trailed a tiny/insignificant notch behind the third-party driver provided by Renesas. In HDTune, the performance graph was smoother (fewer variations) with the Microsoft xHCI driver. In sequential speed tests, variation between the two drivers seldom exceeded 2%. The xHCI driver will ship with Windows 8, letting you run USB 3.0 host controllers and compatible devices right out of installation. The drivers pass through Microsoft's WHQL, although the update cycle of drivers provided by Microsoft is traditionally known to be slower, in some cases they have found to be more stable. Screenshots with "MS" markings (below) show results for the xHCI driver.
More results follow.

NVIDIA Releases the GeForce 295.73 WHQL-certified Drivers

NVIDIA Corp. has now made available the first WHQL driver of the R295 family, the GeForce 295.73. This release comes with support for GeForce 6, 7, 8, 9, 100, 200, 300, 400 and 500 Series cards, and for ION GPUs, it's bundled with the PhysX System Software v9.12.0209, and features the following highlights:

- Game-changing performance boost of up to 45% in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, "the fastest selling title in Steam's history"
- Up to 2x performance Mass Effect 3 with SLI technology.
- GeForce-exclusive quality enhancements with ambient occlusion support for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, Diablo III, and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.
- New 3D Vision and SLI profiles for over 50 titles.
- New PhysX software for the best experience in top PhysX titles like Alice: Madness Returns and Batman: Arkham City.

Download: Windows 7/Vista (32-bit) / Windows 7/Vista (64-bit) / Windows XP (32-bit) / Windows XP (64-bit)

AMD Catalyst 11.12 WHQL Software Suite Released

AMD today released the final installment of its monthly Catalyst Software Suite updates for this year, Catalyst 11.12 WHQL. The software provides device drivers for AMD/ATI Radeon GPUs, AMD Chipset-integrated graphics, AMD Fusion APU-integrated graphics, AMD HDMI audio, and related software such as AMD Catalyst Control Center for discrete Radeon GPUs, and Vision Control Center for integrated ones; and HydraVision.

Key Features:
  • AMD OpenGL 4.2 production support
  • o AMD Catalyst 11.12 delivers official support for the OpenGL 4.2 specification
  • AMD Eyefinity technology enhancements
  • o Enables support for AMD HD3D technology when using a 3x1 Landscape Eyefinity display group, on supported DisplayPort 3D monitors.
  • AMD Vision Engine Control Center enhancements for Dual Graphics
  • o Improvements have been implemented to better facilitate the enabling and control of the Dual Graphics within the Vision Engine Control Center
DOWNLOAD: AMD Catalyst 11.12 WHQL for Windows 7/Vista 64-bit, Windows 7/Vista 32-bit, Windows XP 32-bit, Windows XP 64-bit

For more information about resolved issues, refer to the Release Notes.

AMD Catalyst 12.1 Preview Drivers Released, Support HD 7900 Series

AMD today released its latest unofficial drivers, Catalyst 12.1 Preview. Surprisingly, this release comes ahead of the month's scheduled WHQL-signed release, Catalyst 11.12 WHQL. According to sources, 12.1 Preview is the first driver that provides early (read: rough-on-the-edges) support for AMD's next generation Radeon HD 7900 series graphics cards, scheduled for launch on the 9th of January, 2012. That apart, Catalyst 12.1 brings the following changes to the table:
  • AMD HD3D technology support enhancement
  • o Enables support for AMD HD3D technology in conjunction with AMD CrossFireX configurations
    o Delivers a new Stereo 3D mode over HDMI 1.4a connections - 1080p at 30Hz is now enabled on supported displays.
  • AMD Catalyst Control Center / Vision Engine Control Center enhancements – Application Profiles
  • o AMD Catalyst 12.1 Preview driver enables users to create per application profiles to individually control 3D and CrossFireX settings for Direct3D applications
    o Please be sure to select the “Restore Factory Defaults” option under the Catalyst
  • Control Center Preferences menu before using the new application profiles feature – this ensures there are no compatibility issues between previous drivers and the new AMD Catalyst 12.1 Preview driver with regards to application profiles
  • AMD Catalyst Control Center / Vision Engine Control Center enhancements – Video UI improvements
  • o AMD Catalyst 12.1 Preview driver includes user interface enhancements to simply adjustment of video color and video quality controls
  • Performance highlights of the AMD Catalyst 12.1 Preview driver (in addition to the AMD Catalyst 11.11c performance driver)
  • o Improves performance (10%) in Elder Scrolls: Skyrim when Multi-Sample Anti-Aliasing is enabled on the AMD Radeon HD 6900 Series for single GPU and AMD CrossFireX configurations
DOWNLOAD: AMD Catalyst 12.1 Preview

AMD Posts Catalyst 11.11c Performance Driver

AMD published the third performance driver based on Catalyst 11.11, the Catalyst 11.11c. The driver addresses some glaring issues ahead of the upcoming Catalyst WHQL monthly update. The new performance driver addresses the following issue:

Elder Scrolls Skyrim
  • Delivers AMD CrossfireX performance scaling for the AMD Radeon HD 5000 Series
Apart from the applied changes, the new Catalyst 11.11c includes all the changes brought about by previous Catalyst 11.11 performance drivers.

DOWNLOAD: AMD Catalyst 11.11c Performance Driver for Windows 7 and Vista | Windows XP

AMD Rolls Out Catalyst 11.11a Performance Driver

AMD released its latest "performance driver" for Radeon graphics cards, the Catalyst 11.11a. With this release, AMD is using the term "performance driver" to refer to performance-enhancing Hotfix updates it launches between its scheduled monthly WHQL-signed updates. Catalyst 11.11a fixes some outstanding game-related bugs and improves performance and resolves driver-related bugs for a variety of recently-released titles such as Batman: Arkham City, Rage, The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim, and Battlefield 3. The rest of the driver is based on Catalyst 11.11.

DOWNLOAD: AMD Catalyst 11.11a Performance Driver for Windows 7 or Vista | Windows XP

A list of changes follows.

AMD 11.11 WHQL Catalyst driver CAP 2 Now Available

AMD has now released the CrossFireX Catalyst Application Profiles 2 for their latest 11.11 WHQL drivers. The improvements apply to just two games:
New profiles added to this release:

- Saints Row 3: Resolves stuttering seen when playing in CrossFireX mode. Also provides Single GPU and CrossFireX performance improvements when running in lower resolution configurations
- Gothic 4 Arcania: Fall of Setarrif: Improves CrossFire performance
There's nothing yet for hit game The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim in this release, unfortunately. CAP 2 can be downloaded here.

AMD Catalyst 11.11 WHQL Driver Suite Released

Well, this 11.11 release doesn't list any performance improvements unfortunately. It contains just one new unexciting feature and a few fixes, but still has quite a long list of known issues. The new feature is Adobe Flash Player 11 hardware accelerated graphics support, including the A-series and E-series APUs. Fixes include things like Rage texture corruption, bezel compensation working correctly in Far Cry 2 and a screen tearing fix for displays in clone mode. Therefore, if your setup is working fine, there's no rush to update to this driver in case it breaks something. Note the following CAP 1 profile updates added to this release:

- Battlefield 3: Tweaks to the CrossFire profile
- Global Ops: Commando Libya: Improves CrossFire performance
- Driver San Francisco: Disables CrossFire

DOWNLOAD: AMD Catalyst 11.11 WHQL for Windows 7/Vista 64-bit, Windows 7/Vista 32-bit, Windows XP 32-bit, Windows XP 64-bit

DOWNLOAD: Release Notes
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