For the past seven years I have been writing annual year-in-review articles for the AMD and NVIDIA Linux graphics drivers. Much progress has been made in recent years for bettering the OpenGL Linux support from these leading closed-source graphics drivers and this year is no exception. Up today is a recap of this year's AMD Catalyst graphics driver releases plus benchmarks of this year's driver releases going back to Catalyst 11.12.
Tomorrow will be the NVIDIA 2012 Year In Review while today are just the AMD results. This year saw some fundamental changes for the Catalyst driver with AMD abandoning their strict monthly release cadence and moved towards to pushing betas and new releases whenever warranted. Earlier this year they also ended their AMD Radeon HD 2000/3000/4000 series support by pushing the older GPU generations into a "Catalyst Legacy" driver that really hasn't seen any significant updates on Linux. In terms of any revolutionary improvements to the Catalyst Linux driver, there really were not any major leaps forward, but towards the end of the year AMD began to work on OpenGL fixes and improvements because of Valve Software bringing their games to Linux.
Catalyst 12.1 for starting the year brought some OpenCL improvements and other random changes but nothing spectacular. Catalyst 12.2 also brought few changes to AMD's binary blob along with the less than exciting Catalyst 12.3. Catalyst 12.4 delivered on Ubuntu 12.04 LTS support plus support for PowerXpress on Intel Ivy Bridge hardware and random bug-fixes.
Catalyst 12.6 was the next official driver release and it dropped the pre-HD5000 series product support, introduced application profile support, OpenGL performance regression fixes, X.Org Server 1.12 support, and experimental support for ShadowPrimary along with other fixes, but this release left many Linux users disappointed.
The current official release offered by AMD at the time of writing is the Catalyst 12.11 Linux Beta. This was the release that brought some fixes/optimizations for Valve's Source Engine games on Linux, improved OpenGL driver performance, and other work.