The new Catalyst 8.12 drivers are available for download, but don’t expect significant performance increase compared to Catalyst 8.11. No magical code will help HD 4870 in beating GTX 260, but ATI included a sweet deal – Avivo video converter that will do more good to end users than a couple of measly frames more. All HD 4800 and HD 4600 series owners can put it to good use, and all you have to do is install the latest Catalyst 8.12 drivers, as these include direct support for the aforementioned graphics cards.
AMD calls its technology ATI Stream, so those who own the mentioned cards can expect improved operation in apps that ATI Stream supports. CyberLink, ArcSoft Adobe and even Microsoft see this technology as a means to deliver better quality service. The catch is in integrating AMD’s compute abstraction layer (CAL) into Catalyst drivers, resulting in better software-hardware communication.
AMD and Nvidia have gone a long way to prove that processing parallel data can be greatly improved by using the GPU’s stream processors. We all know that HD 4000 generation packs 800 stream processors, which is much better than HD 3000 where 320 stream processors were used. RV770 features up to 5x better performance compared to the last generation, which is quite important for transcoding. It seems like the performance was the only reason why ATI Stream wasn’t enabled in previous generation, but we’re still hoping AMD will enable this feature in older cards, too.
ATI Catalyst 8.12 and Avivo decoder are available here. Avivo is completely free, but it does have its flaws. There’s no full control over processed files, but it does support a plethora of different import/export formats.
It’s quite easy to use. Note that it runs from “Basic” option in Catalyst drivers and you can’t access it from “Advanced” option. After choosing the import format, you have to decide on the Bitrate, which dictates the size and quality. Comparing Avivo with a superior selection of formats and Nvidia Badaboom with more options is not an easy task, but in both cases you can rest assured that conversion will go much smoother than with the CPU alone. The new version of Badaboom should launch this month and will support more formats, whereas new Avivo versions will feature more options so we’ll compare them when the time is right. The important thing is that both camps are on the right track.
The picture above shows processor usage of 54% during conversion. Avivo does put quite a burden on the processor, whereas Badaboom uses only 36%. On the other hand, ATI was faster, as you can see for yourself from the following picture.
Avivo converter is 7.5x faster than the CPU, whereas Nvidia manages to pull off 2.8x. For converting using the CPU, we used Super (Simplified Universal Player Encoder & Renderer).
The new Catalyst 8.12’s video controls feature a new filter for noise reduction in progressive video content. You can decrease ghosting problems and keep the original video details by a simple slider knob, but be careful, as that can prove to be counterproductive.
We’ll get back to our usual routine, which is gaming performance, but note that there’s no significant performance increase. You should install the new driver mostly for ATI Stream and Avivo converter, but depending on your games of choice, you might actually squeeze out a couple of additional fps.
Vantage Mark reports 2% better performance but certain games report an even higher performance increase compared to Catalyst 8.11.
Call of Duty - World at War
Call of Duty: World at War seems to like the new driver and it results in 4.7% better score.
Dead Space wasn’t particularly faster, but Fallout 3 results are almost 4% better.
FarCry 2 with antialiasing scores 8.8% better, whereas turning the filters off results in a 12% increase. This is by far the best result we’ve seen today.
Catalyst 8.12 fares nicely in Crysis Warhead, but only after turning antialiasing on, and it speeds up the card by up to 6.8%.
Company of Heroes
World in Conflict
AMD has got a reason to be proud, and we wish them all the best in the development of ATI Stream, since we will all profit from that. Avivo video converter is completely free, but restricted to HD 4800 and HD 4600 series of graphics card. The proud owners should install Catalyst 8.12 and Avivo converter, but it’s the inexperienced users that will be the most grateful. The options are limited, but enough for format conversion. More advanced users will find the current version Avivo converter to be a bit short of a suitable replacement for some other, more advanced tools, but if you’re concerned about speed – then look no further. We managed to achieve 7.5x faster results compared to using just the CPU, which is a great performance increase, especially if you’re working with large files.