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CATALYST AI: Doping Your RADEON

ATI is releasing its new graphics processor along with an updated Catalyst. The new version of the unified driver is called Catalyst AI and is going to boost the performance of your RADEON in games employing a dynamic optimization of texture filtering and application-specific optimizations.

NVIDIA, the main market rival of ATI, has been most successful recently in the sector of top-end solutions. Today ATI has nothing of that supremacy that its solutions had in modern games, so the Canadians had to do something to raise the performance bar of the Powered by ATI graphics cards. Higher clock rates of new GPUs may help in this, but there’s also another method – a smart driver. Clock rates can only be changed in new products, while the driver can favorably affect the whole spectrum of graphics cards, including relatively old models. Well, and the company just couldn’t leave its users with those low fps rates in Doom 3!

New Optimizations, New Speeds

Catalyst AI is new functionality of the ATI Catalyst driver, which includes the following:

  • ATI’s texture analyzer, which is going to optimize the use of computational resources, without compromising the image quality. ATI probably wants to say that in quite a number of cases there is no need to enable full-featured anisotropic filtering x16 (in case you have an obstacle in front of you, for example) and maybe lower-grade aniso, 4x, for instance, will get you the same image quality result, while asking for less resources;
  • A set of optimizations for a number of popular game titles. ATI particularly mentions Doom 3, Unreal Tournament 2004, Half-Life 2 engine, Splinter Cell, Race Driver, Prince of Persia and Crazy Taxi 3;
  • A slider or checkbox to enable application-specific optimizations or disable all available optimizations altogether. Thus, it’s up to the user now to choose if he/she wants to have any of ATI’s optimizations, including the typical acceleration of tri-linear and anisotropic filtering.

So far, ATI hasn’t yet revealed any details about the optimizations, but it is known that the most aggressive level of optimizations in Catalyst AI uses both application-specific and powerful texture filtering speed boosts. At least, Halo started to run faster after the High level of optimizations had been turned on, although this title is not mentioned in the list of games for which specific optimizations are implemented.

As for the value of the speed boost, we can quote a representative of ATI Technologies who said Doom 3 enjoyed up to 25% fps rate increase due to the use of tri-linear filtering optimizations and the use of a special shader instead of texture lookup tables.

We would like to stress the fact that the company says they are not planning to implement application-specific optimizations for synthetic benchmarks like 3DMark03 or Aquamark 3.

 
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