AMD Launches Catalyst 14.2 Beta Drivers; Talks Linux

To coincide with the North American release of THIEF, AMD launched its Catalyst 14.2 beta drivers on Tuesday. The game is an important title for the AMD Gaming Evolved program, as it contains features that are specifically optimized for the AMD Radeon architecture. THIEF will also be patched to support Mantle and AMD TrueAudio technologies in early March.

With the new drivers installed, AMD Radeon owners will have "out-of-the-box" support for 4K gaming, AMD Eyefinity technology, AMD CrossFire technology and advantageous DirectX 11 performance. The company also revealed that all THIEF players will benefit from AMD's collaboration with Square, such as compute shader-accelerated depth of field, silhouette-enhancing tessellation, SSAA for "buttery smooth edges," and complex shadowing systems.

In addition to supporting THIEF with exclusive features, the new beta drivers also brings improvement to Mantle. Specifically, hangs and stuttering is now resolved for the Mantle codepath in Battlefield 4; users should now try mGPU. Multi-GPU frame pacing in Battlefield 3 and Battlefield 4 is now enabled for non-XDMA configurations running resolutions greater than 1600p. Intermittent hangs and crashes should be resolved in 3D applications.

The AMD Catalyst 14.2 Beta V1.3 driver for Windows can be downloaded here.

Meanwhile, as for Linux gamers, AMD is committed to making some changes to the X.ORG 'radeon' repository, the company's open source driver. These changes include the following:

  • Video Compression Engine (VCE) enabled for compatible GPU and APU products (e.g. GCN-based SKUs). Hardware-accelerated encode of H.264 now possible for 1080p60 content
  • Video decode (UVD) performance and efficiency improvements for the AMD R9 290/290X, R9 260X, "Kaveri" and "Kabini"
  • X-Video hardware video acceleration via the GLAMOR library now supported
  • 2D acceleration via the GLAMOR library now enabled by default
  • Substantial improvements to overall video transcode times for hardware-accelerated transcoding apps
  • Tiling support now enabled on all GCN-based products
  • Substantial OpenGL feature level upgrade to v4.3
  • Major contributions to the Linux kernel 3.14 to improve dynamic power management, DisplayPort robustness and power efficiency on all GCN-based hardware
  • New programming guides and register specifications released for HD 5000, 6000, 7000 and R9/R7 Series GPUs. This will enable volunteer and professional developers to contribute to the X.ORG OSS Radeon driver, and can facilitate porting to other non-Linux platforms.
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  • JD88
    AMD's Linux support has generally been awful. Hopefully this is a step in the right direction.
  • gallidorn
    Hopefully AMD is working on Mantle support for Linux. But, it would be just like in Windows where new technologies can't gain traction until Games start including Mantle support. Hopefully someone will figure out a way to integrate basic mantle support in graphic engines (i.e. Unreal, Frostbite, etc.). If that is possible, game companies could easily roll out game engine patches to older games.
  • the1kingbob
    Our workstations in my office have professional graphics cards from both nvidia and amd. I don't remember which ones specifically, just that the AMD cards cost half as much. Either way, the nvidia cards are awful compared to the AMD cards in Ubuntu. The AMD cards use the default drivers while we have to use the nvidia proprietary drivers just to have multiple screen support (not sure if still true to this day, but was when installed). Animations are choppy, randomly freezes and chokes requiring a ctrl+alt+f1 then ctrl+alt+f7 just to get going again. Was disappointed, makes work in VMD quite challenging sometimes. (Note platforms are exactly the same, 16GB of ram with two 6 core xeons)