Friday afternoon we got an email pointing us to the latest beta driver from ATI. One of the key features of this driver is a performance boost for dual core systems. Building a driver to take advantage of parallel processing is quite a task, and extracting any noticeable performance gain out of it is even more difficult. So we are here today to see just what ATI has gotten out of their efforts thus far.

Admittedly, the highest performance gains come from low resolutions without antialiasing. It stands to reason that the more CPU limited a test is, the more benefit the game will get from freeing up CPU resources. The real benefit to end users if only lower resolutions benefit is questionable, but every step helps. With the future of computer hardware firmly planted in parallelism, the burden of improving performance shifts a little further towards software developers. Coming up with new and interesting ways to parallelize code efficiently is going to be quite a new task for desktop software programmers to tackle. And in the end, Amdahl's Law reminds us that we are still limited by the benefit we can get from parallelism. The percentage of code that must remain sequential will become the limiting factor. But every little bit of parallelization still helps.

There are really quite a few questions to be asked about this driver. After adding up everything we wanted to do, the sheer number of tests we had laid out was enormous. In an effort to be more efficient ourselves, we decided to break our analysis of the 5.12 driver up. This article is meant as a quick look at the benefits of ATI's dual core enhancements on a few select games running on X1K series hardware. We will compare this driver to the old one as well as dual core performance to single core performance.

Our next look at the 5.12 driver will include a comparison to NVIDIA performance in single and dual core systems, more than one ATI card, more games, and as many more things as we can pack in. Of course we are open to suggestion. But for now, we'll take a look at what we've got to work with.

The Test


View All Comments

  • wien - Sunday, December 4, 2005 - link

    Way to talk for everyone... I care, so there. Reply
  • Jep4444 - Sunday, December 4, 2005 - link

    not like games these days are CPU bottlenecked, thats why we really only see improvements at 800x600, nVidia doesn't gain much in the higher resolutions either Reply
  • porkster - Tuesday, December 6, 2005 - link

    Obviously you don't multitask? Like do you run a bittorrent client downlaoding off ADSL2 whilst playing a game, or run a IIS server in the background, or run other apps?

    The days are gone of having a single task able computer as most users want multitasking due to their better understand and use of their machines.
  • keitaro - Sunday, December 4, 2005 - link

    That's odd. I thought they're going to use either the X2 4800, the 4400, or the 3800 CPU for the test... I'm a little surprised that they'd go for the 4600 to benchmark this. Reply
  • johnsonx - Sunday, December 4, 2005 - link

    what difference does it make? it's a dual-core cpu. for this sort of test, it makes no difference whether a 4600 is most popular to buy or not (which I agree it isn't).
  • Shimmishim - Sunday, December 4, 2005 - link

    first post!

    looks promising for ATI.

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