ATI Catalyst 8.12 Changes and Bug Fixes

As far as the 8.12 drivers themselves go, we have seen a few bug fixes. Far Cry 2 now supports CrossFire without requiring 4xAA to be enabled for it to work (and the rest of the FC2 hotfix has been incorporated as well). The stability and performance issues we noticed on Nehalem systems have been improved. Game tests make sense and behave more or less the way we expect they should.

Until this driver, using ATI graphics hardware in a Core i7 system was unstable and buggy, especially in non-Intel X58 boards. The worst problems were with CrossFire, but we had single card issues as well. When we began testing on Nehalem, we wanted to use a Radeon HD 4870 1GB in our launch article. In trying to make it work, Anand lost almost a week in tests that to just be thrown away because of the stability and performance issues with AMD hardware in the i7 system. We had to switch over to NVIDIA hardware to get the launch article done. Normally we don't go into detail about all the trouble we have when testing prerelease products, but even after launch we continued to have the same issues. Initially 8.10 was the problem, then the Far Cry 2 hotfix didn't really fix much. It almost seemed like 8.11 made things worse and the hotfixes following 8.11 didn't really help either.

For us, Catalyst 8.12 was the make or break driver for recommending ATI hardware on Core i7 systems. We had decided that unless most (if not all) of our outstanding issues were resolved we would recommend that anyone who wanted the latest Intel hardware stay very far away from AMD video cards. Fortunately for AMD, this latest release resolves enough of our issues that we are comfortable recommending that those who want AMD hardware in their Core i7 systems go ahead and give it a shot (note from Anand: I'm still having some issues in my media encoder tests with ATI hardware in my i7 test bed).

There has been a change in the layout of the Catalyst driver as well. It's really more of a minor tweak actually. In the 3D menu on the left side in the Advanced view, the last option on the list ("More Settings") used to be miscellaneous options for toggling z depth, texture compression and triple buffering with OpenGL. All of these options have been removed except for OpenGL triple buffering, which has been rolled into the "All Settings" menu option (it's at the very bottom).

We haven't yet completed a full performance analysis using Catalyst 8.12, but we expect to see practical gains similar to what we saw with NVIDIA's 180 series driver release: mostly modest gains with maybe some corner cases that may or may not be relevant to gamers getting a bigger boost. We are working on gathering data for upcoming articles using Catalyst 8.12 and the latest NVIDIA beta driver 180.84. We haven't run into anything that used to work being broken this time around, but the night is young, as they say. We are hopeful that at least the game tests we are looking at won't present us with any problems.

Using these drivers as a starting point on our Core i7 system should allow us to finally do more with our testing. We are looking forward to finally having a stable platform on which to test both CrossFire and SLI. We are also anxious to get comparisons of graphics hardware using the latest games up as well. This should all be much easier now that we have these drivers in our hands.

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  • mediaconvert - Wednesday, January 28, 2009 - link

    I record a lot of tele on my computer and am always wanting faster ways to convert and compress my videos. When I heard about ati producing an equivilant of badaboom I was really excited and thought I could finally justify spending £150+ on a graphics card especially when it would be faster than the cpu. I have a ati 3450 and man was I dissapointed. I tried to compress a 120mb mpeg2 file and ended up with a 150 mb file. Also if the reviews are right it doesn't use the gpu. whats the point in having a gpu converter that doesn't use the gpu??? I can only speak for myself but if amd/ati comes out with a serious way of quickly converting/compressing the mpeg2 files (perhaps also with a batch processing mode) then they have a sale here especially if it allows me to play the latest video games.

    Currently I have been looking at video cards and I have to say there are two things pushing me to nvidia one is badaboom and the other nvidias hybridpower (use of an nvidia motherboard integrated graphics to reduce gpu usage and hence gpu fan noise when gpu is not needed)

    I recon ati/amd needs to get creative here and really commit to gpu video conversion. ( or even gpu + cpu video conversion ) If they can produce real world speed benefits then people will buy it.
    Reply
  • Focher - Wednesday, December 17, 2008 - link

    I have a 3-way SLI of 280s with a QX9650 CPU. I have both Badaboom and TMPG Xpress, both of which support GPU encoding. In my experience, I can actually encode video a bit faster with just the CPU. Badaboom apparently supports multi-GPU configurations now, but only to split encoding when you have queued multiple files. TMPG Xpress is definitely the more powerful and capable tool, but doesn't support multiple GPUs. Also, Badaboom apparently just released 1.1 that adds quite a few features but I have not yet tried it. Reply
  • Rainman200 - Wednesday, December 17, 2008 - link

    Just assign resources to help the developers of x264 to make use of GPU's through OpenCL and that will do more good than any of these waste of time apps.

    Anand I'd definitely say the x264 is sharper vs Badaboom in the two pictures you posted, also please use Ribot264 or AutoMKV as they use the latest builds of x264, Handbrake trails development of x264 because of its Apple Mac focus so important features added to x264 which improve its image quality are left out months behind other x264 encoders.
    Reply
  • dryloch - Wednesday, December 17, 2008 - link

    I had a few ATI cards years ago but have been using Nvidia recently. I decided to try a 4800 series ATI card this time around partly because I hoped the number of stream processors would be useful for stuff like this. I have been looking forward to this driver for months and now they release something that doesn't work. My time is valuable to me ATI, don't waste it trying to make somthing work that you know is broken. I don't care what happens with the speed of the next gen cards I am going back to Nvidia. Reply
  • toyotabedzrock - Tuesday, December 16, 2008 - link

    http://www.pcper.com/article.php?aid=647">http://www.pcper.com/article.php?aid=647
    This review seems to have gotten it to work better. Althought still not flawless.
    Reply
  • talmholt - Tuesday, December 16, 2008 - link

    Anand,

    I think some of your issues are coming from Vista. I have used the converter on a WinXP32 machine with good results. It converts a 2 hour movie (MPEG2 640x480 3GB initial size) to an iPod file (320x240 500MB final size) in 8 minutes and the result is flawless!

    I have also tried converting HDTV (OTA) content to a DVD format and that worked great too.

    PS, my system is only a Intel Core 2 E6420 with a AMD 4850 (everything at stock speeds). Please try again Anand.

    Thomas
    Reply
  • Chris Simmo - Tuesday, December 16, 2008 - link

    I use handbrake, but noticed something wierd. I had a 9800GT in the system, using handbrakes default movie options x264 and I would get about 150 turbo first pass, 48fps second pass on my overclocked q9400@3.5. I changed the graphics over to a HD4850, and saw an option for VP3. I selected it, the CLI crashed, the handbrake UI was still running though, changed back to x264, and then it was 290 turbo first pass and over 150 second pass. This is running vista 64 with the 8.12 drivers. During this time the GPU temp went up 2 degrees, all four cores were at 100%. I really need some one else to have a play and see what they get. I put in a 4870 to try, but I hadn't worked out the VP3 thing yet, so it didn't change form the standard 48fps Reply
  • Chris Simmo - Tuesday, December 16, 2008 - link

    Sorry, that was 'Shaun of the dead' DVD to MKV, Reply
  • niuniu2012 - Wednesday, March 10, 2010 - link

    You can use http://www.dvdtomp3converter.com/">http://www.dvdtomp3converter.com/ to select target subtitle and audio track according at your will. DVD to MP3 Converter also provides you with fruitful options to set audio properties of audio bitrate, Sample Rate and so on. Reply
  • piroroadkill - Tuesday, December 16, 2008 - link

    "Last year, NVIDIA introduced it's CUDA"

    it is CUDA!
    Reply

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