Introduction

In the time before the Radeon, ATI's drivers were notoriously bad. ATI knew that, in order to compete in the high end consumer space with NVIDIA, their driver would need to be easy to use, intuitive, and stable. Thus, the CATALYST program was born.

For the past few years, we have seen ATI's drivers grow in stability and performance. Features have been added that have continued to push the envelope of driver development. Features such as Overdrive (automatic overclocking) and VPU Recovery (soft reset to avoid system crashes) have been added and last year, ATI pushed forward with their Catalyst Control Center user interface redesign.



Received with mixed feelings, the CCC sought to offer an easy-to-use interface that anyone could use. Offering a realtime preview and very general sliders in the initial view, those who don't know or care about the intricacies of graphics could benefit from the quality or performance settings that ATI offers. It is even possible to see what a specific setting does in the preview window and thus, is able to educate customers as well. The downsides of CCC are its very laggy behavior, long startup time, and general clunky feel.

Building their driver interface around .NET this early in the game was a bit of a risky move. ATI's general feeling was that moving in the .NET direction was necessary combined with the ease with which partners and customers alike could extend the driver UI. The decision was made to get an early start on things.

The sentiment among the enthusiast crowd still seems to remain centered around a clean, simple interface rather than the Catalyst Control Center's approach. And, yes, skins can be used to make the CCC look a little more toned down, but making things unnecessarily bigger and slower for those who don't need or want the features offered is a tough sell.

Well, ATI is promising that the CCC and driver will be getting better and growing in features. Let's take a look at what exactly will be going on.

Catalyst 5.6
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  • ImJacksAmygdala - Thursday, June 09, 2005 - link

    The pictures are worthless... I had to put my beer goggles on just to read the menus.

    I am most interested in buying a card that can run Unreal3 and is the best card for home theater HDTV applications. Whoever makes that card first gets my money.

    It is nice to see the video card drivers supporting home theater HDTV, but both ATI and Nvidia could do much better. Tier 1 companies could also do much better by offering software bundles and they need to market a home theater specific card package that has bundled codecs (like Nividias codecs) and player software right out of the box. I'm talking about players like Theatertek and Zoomplayer. PowerDVD and WinDVD are fine but for the money you spend on these cards it would be nice to have some real software that a user can get the best PQ for the money they spent. It should also be said that at this point every card sold should have VGA, DVI, Svideo, and Component connections. HDTV theater packages should also include things like DVI to HDMI adapters. If I'm spending $400-$550 on a card it would be nice if all I had to do is install it, hook it up, grab FFDshow and start tweaking. I could care less about all the bundled fluffware and games I will never play.
    Reply
  • BubbaJudge - Thursday, June 09, 2005 - link

    I guess all talk, or rumor, of a Nvidia Digital Vibrance equivalent has been dropped. guess I should be thankful we still have hotkeys for gamma adjustment for CS:S Reply
  • fishbits - Thursday, June 09, 2005 - link

    "ATI has also been touting some performance enhancements this time around as well."

    Then the performace increases should have been uncovered in the testing that was done. If the increases are very specific "Only in this game, on this map, at this resolution with these settings," then IMHO ATI shouldn't be bragging about them, or should at least qualify the statement. Why disappoint customers by implying they should expect an across-the-board boost in performance, when that won't match the actual experience in most cases?

    "would rather have all their clients running exactly the same software configuration and *down* want to allow end users"

    Not complaining, just pointing out.
    Reply
  • DerekWilson - Thursday, June 09, 2005 - link

    My appologies for the grammar.

    Yes, there is someone who normally edits our articles before they go live (hi Karen). Unfortunately, it's been a busy week and I was unable to get this artile to her in time for proper editing.

    Thus I was forced to employ MS Word as my editor for the article.

    And no more coming up with titles at 4AM for me :-)

    Thank you for pointing out the errors.
    Reply
  • Questar - Thursday, June 09, 2005 - link

    Holy Crap Batman, the commas got out of their cage and are running amok on the Internet!

    Can you guys hire someone who knows how to write?
    Reply
  • gsellis - Thursday, June 09, 2005 - link

    Hey Derek. Did you only test 16x12? What about at other resolutions. And yes, they are now available. Reply
  • probedb - Thursday, June 09, 2005 - link

    This is fantastic news on doing more for HDTV. It's one area that gets left behind a lot. Reply
  • bbomb - Thursday, June 09, 2005 - link

    And for LoneWolf just change where to were.
    Reply
  • Woodchuck2000 - Thursday, June 09, 2005 - link

    Anyone fancy petitioning ATI for the option of a command-line interface? I wonder how small they could make it and still retain the same technological feature set. Just imagine;

    CCC/>set aa="4"
    CCC/>set refresh="85"

    now wouldn't that be better... We could just have a few litle batch files (.ccb I'm thinking) and execute them to configure our exact settings. It'd be handy for benchmarking too!

    #10 - Well spotted! I'm glad I only skimmed through the article!

    Reply
  • bbomb - Thursday, June 09, 2005 - link

    HardOCP said that 5.5 used almost 80MB of memory and that 5.6 used only 15MB for them. Im surrised that Anandtech didnt mention what theirs was. They said in 5.5 there where 2 instances of CLI.exe, one used 35 and the other used 45. In 5.6 there were 3 instances and each used around 5Mb each.
    Reply

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