Thursday, September 13, 2007

New ATI Drivers Rox! (sort of)

Woo, I received an update from AMD today (I subscribe to their driver update feed), that their new ATI drivers are out (v8.41.7). So, I duly downloaded the latest drivers and installed them. Installation was a snap as it hadn't changed from any of the previous versions.

I am happy to report that there has been significant performance improvements. I ran both Doom3 and Quake4 demos last nite and frame rates have gone up from 3-5FPS to 15-30FPS. So, an unplayable game is now playable! I actually completed the first maps for each of those games. I can say that the use of lighting in these games is superb. It's really quite dark and scary. So, in support of ID Software, I'm thinking of purchasing both games.

I am quite surprised that my laptop is capable of playing these games. When I finally decided to purchase a business laptop, I had pretty much given up on being able to play these games. However, I am now capable of playing these games using my integrated ATI graphics. This has come as a bonus. Later, I may even try to run PCSX2 to see if PS2 emulation works. Previously, I only got about 7FPS on FFX, which should be around 30FPS now.

However, this driver release comes with a whole list of disclaimers and caveats. AMD/ATI stresses that this is an R600 optimised release. This means that users of other chips may experience some minor issues. I do experience some minor bugs, but these aren't any show stoppers. I've also read on forums that many people who have the X1250 are unable to use the new drivers. I have been running it since last night and there doesn't seem to be an issue. I have also tested it with suspend/resume and that works to. Just in case, I will include the relevant bits of my config file.

Option "VideoOverlay" "off"
Option "OpenGLOverlay" "off"
Option "Centermode" "on"
Option "UseFastTLS" "2"
Option "XaaNoOfscreenPixmaps" "true"
AMD stresses that they will improve the driver for other chips in later revisions. I guess AMD just wanted to get something useful out the door as soon as possible. Future versions will also include support for AIGLX (eye candy) and optimisation for other chips. And yes, s you can see, XVideo acceleration for watching movies is still the suck.

Good job, AMD/ATI! Keep up the good work! Keep improving the drivers!

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