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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  • LoneWolf15 - Thursday, June 09, 2005 - link

    You'd think that a site this high quality would have someone going over copy before publishing. I know it sounds bitchy, but man, grammar goes a long way towards making a good site better.

    (ATI didn't take the reigns with mobile drivers, they took the REINS. Reign = kings/queens/rulers, reins=horses).

    As for ATI, I'm not a big Catalyst Control Center fan either; the interface looks nice, but I don't want anything that takes .NET to run and makes a good thing slower. What I DO want is working DXVA support for HD WMV video acceleration. In Catalyst 5.5, you have to unlock it in the registry, and while CPU usage goes down, it de-syncs the audio.
    Reply
  • lifeblood - Thursday, June 09, 2005 - link

    I wonder if the OpenGL improvement was in the linux version. The Linux users I know hate ATI because of it's poor Linux performance.

    I have a 9600XT. Would a new driver do the least bit of good for me? At 100MB I'm not going to install it just for the eye candy.
    Reply
  • yacoub - Thursday, June 09, 2005 - link

    I look at those images and all I see is worthless bloat and gaudy GUI everywhere. :(


    #2 = "Why do certain contributers to this site seem unable to correctly use apostrophes?"

    Welcome to the Internet where no one seem's able to use apostrophe's properly. (Really though, I hate it too.)
    Reply
  • Sunbird - Thursday, June 09, 2005 - link

    The driver control center is useless, when I had it installed my screen would go black for a second after going into the desktop when rebooting, I'm so glad I uninstalled it. Reply
  • nserra - Thursday, June 09, 2005 - link

    I agree with #3.

    Maybe you would see performance gains with some specific ati card, board (chipset), processor, game detail setting, ...
    Reply
  • gibhunter - Thursday, June 09, 2005 - link

    What I'm seeing here is more fluff without any substence. The driver control center is a bloated memory hog, slow to come up, slow to work with and shows negligeble performance improvement. With 100MB download it is a step back, not a step forward. Reply
  • Azsen - Thursday, June 09, 2005 - link

    Are they available for download yet? Reply
  • Live - Thursday, June 09, 2005 - link

    Did you contact ATI about not seeing any performance gains? If not you should. My thought is that there might be special settings needed to get the boost. This then most certainly would involve tradeoffs of some sort but it would be interesting to know if this is the case. Since opengl performance is basically the only thing holding ATI back right now. Assuming of course that crossfire is as good as they say it is. Reply
  • Woodchuck2000 - Thursday, June 09, 2005 - link

    Why do certain contributers to this site seem unable to correctly use apostrophes? The quality of jounalism on this site is normally excellent, but "ATI's Next Three Month's Of Catalyst" is simply inexcusable!

    On a seperate note, the install for the current Catalyst with Control Centre is over 100Mb which (in my humble opinion), is ridiculously bloated for what it does.
    Reply
  • MAME - Thursday, June 09, 2005 - link

    go ati, competition is a good thing Reply

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