Saturday, February 1st 2014

AMD Passes On Catalyst 14.1 beta to the Press, Public Release Shortly

After last minute hiccups, AMD managed to release Catalyst 14.1 beta to the press. The driver brings along the first release of Mantle, AMD's ambitious 3D graphics API to rival Direct3D and OpenGL. Installing the driver was less than straightforward. We couldn't just install the driver over our Catalyst 13.12 WHQL installation like we normally do. A driver cleanup and reinstalling did the trick. Catalyst 14.1 beta enables the 3D renderer option in Battlefield 4, which lets you choose between DirectX 11.1 and Mantle.

Our first (subjective) impression, is that we couldn't tell the difference. Our Radeon R9 290 already offered frame-rates well above 60 FPS (1920 x 1080, Ultra, 4x MSAA), on Direct3D, and so we never really stood to gain anything that makes the game more playable than it already was. What could have been interesting, was to see how Mantle makes the lives of R9 270X owners better, who could see frame-rates drop below 60 FPS at our settings. According to a change-log of the driver posted by Guru3D, AMD hasn't optimized Mantle for any of the Graphics CoreNext (GCN) based GPUs other than Radeon R9 290 series, R9 260X, and A-Series "Kaveri" APUs.
We gave Battlefield 4 and the Catalyst 14.1 a quick spin. Our test bed included an AMD FX-8350 chip at stock frequencies, 8 GB of DCh DDR3-1333 memory, an AMD 990FX motherboard (ASUS M5A99FX-PRO R2.0, 2201 BIOS, UEFI mode); Windows 8.1 64-bit, and of course, a Radeon R9 290 (BIOS: The GPU is into high-end territory, but the rest of the bed is still what we'd like to call an "aspirational mainstream" build (one that's penny-pinching but shouldn't bottleneck high-end GPUs). Game settings included 1920 x 1080 pixels resolution, disabled V-Sync, "Ultra" preset, HBAO, and 4x MSAA. We used the "PerfOverlay.FrameFileLogEnable 1" console command to spit out CSV files with frame-times in ms, from which we drew average frame-times (time in ms taken to draw a frame), and derived frames per second. Switching between renderers requires game restarts.

The screenshots above are not from the testing session. In the first run, we chose the Direct3D renderer. Battlefield 4 takes advantage of DirectX 11.1 (feature-level 11.1) on the R9 290. We employed a 167-second play through the single-player campaign chapter "Fishing in Baku," with a constant save-point, where our heroes are fighting their way through hordes of enemies to reach their extraction point. We obtained an average frame-time of 16.26 ms, which works out to 61.5 fps. For Mantle, we overshot the 167-second mark, and played on for 184 seconds (we quit at the same point in in the game as our Direct3D run). The average frame-time was 14.45 ms, which works out to 69.2 fps. Overall, a 12.5 percent performance uplift. On a side-note, in the screenshots above, which we took merely to show you that the Mantle renderer is active, the game is doing 1280 x 720 pixels, and windowed. This is a CPU-limited scenario. The performance uplift is higher.

Overall, Mantle is far from being termed vaporware. It works like gangbusters, and we couldn't visually tell the difference in game effects between it and Direct3D. Performance gains are tangible, and if AMD gets it to work like it should on mid-thru-performance segment GPUs such as the R9 270 series and R9 280 series; not to mention HD 7800 series and HD 7900 series, AMD owners could be in for a neat free performance upgrade, heck even lower-mainstream chips like the R7 260X and HD 7790 should turn from being 1080p-capable to 1080p-worthy. Mantle works to reduce the API-level overheads imposed on the rest of the system (the CPU, main memory, etc.), in processing graphics. The more CPU-limited the scenario, the better the performance uplift. AMD tells us that public release of Catalyst 14.1 beta should be posted on the company website shortly.
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64 Comments on AMD Passes On Catalyst 14.1 beta to the Press, Public Release Shortly

slevinsok said:
no your out of luck .....and who the hell still uses the 6xxx series lol wife still uses a 6870.......for publisher:roll:
Posted on Reply
el etro
m0nt3 said:
I want to see minimum framerates. Especially some of the maps that have bad drops into the 30's fps(paracel storm at B, Hainan Resort at C are the biggest problem areas) and that is regardless of quality/resolution settings.
Mantle helps the CPU behavior in the game engine in every way.
Posted on Reply
I did not observer much change in minimum fps if you exclude the odd glitched frames from mantle.
Posted on Reply
m0nt3 said:
Thanks Broken Pixle it works. All the low fps I would get in like sige of shanghai into the 30's gone, rarely below 70. gives some life to my Phenom II X6 CPU useage is high instead of 60-70 i hang around 80-85.
You gave me hope man though i have a 5800 series :(
Posted on Reply
It plays like a new game. There is an ocasional pause/stutter. Once the kinks are worked out it will be amazing (which it already is) I feel you suka, i bought an R9 290 on release day to replace my 6950 because it could barely handle it. I would have needed a new CPU but I knew mantle was coming out so I held off, glad I did!
Posted on Reply
aussiebear said:
This linked article shows why the driver has been delayed...
Well, considering the game patch was released one day prior and the drivers were going to be released the same time but were delayed due to an install bug, I don't know if we can know who to point the finger at. If the game patch came out the end of Dec. and the drivers weren't released for a month, then it would be pretty obvious. The game patch was delayed though as well. So, who knows why?
Posted on Reply
Every driver gives me 20% boost, even if it doesn't support my card or no boosts were listed for it. You know, it's like red brake calipers on cars. They give you instant 15 HP no matter what. :D Installing the drivers on my system right now...
Posted on Reply
wasn't it only 4 chips at launch?

i did just read that on the beta page.

  • AMD Mantle Beta driver is currently supported on:[list]
  • AMD Radeon™ R9 Series GPUs (presumably the whole 2xx so?)
  • AMD Radeon™ R7 Series GPUs
  • AMD Radeon™ HD 7000 Series GPUs
  • AMD Radeon™ HD 8000 Series GPUs
  • AMD A10-7000 Series and AMD A8-7000 Series APUs
  • For additional details please see the AMD Mantle Technology FAQ on"
  • Posted on Reply
    Strange, Comodo jumped because the package was not recognized. Checked the file and is actually not signed by AMD. That's a bit weird. But since it's from their page, fine...
    Posted on Reply
    m0nt3 said:
    It plays like a new game. There is an ocasional pause/stutter. Once the kinks are worked out it will be amazing (which it already is) I feel you suka, i bought an R9 290 on release day to replace my 6950 because it could barely handle it. I would have needed a new CPU but I knew mantle was coming out so I held off, glad I did!
    Am getting my 1090t soon but am not upgrading my 5870. I hope multi-threaded games will keep coming to ensure longevity of the 1090t. For now no Mantle for me
    Posted on Reply
    Guru3d did a little review of Mantle (link). Several different setups show very large gains to be had when BF4 is CPU limited. Example would be a ~56% increase when using a10 7850k with 290x with Medium settings at either 720p or 1080p resolutions. Yes, it's not normal settings you would use with that setup, but he used it to show what's possible.

    Like I said earlier, it would be interesting to see this done with an old Athlon X2 and even something like a 7870.
    Posted on Reply
    Rottenapple said:
    I really wish Arma 3 adopt Mantle as it is the most cpu limited game I've played.
    try to play total war games i had an i3 with 7950 and i was stuck with 20fps upgraded to i5 now i'm getting 30fps so a mantle will be nice
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