AMD 2010 Catalyst Driver Year In Review
Written by Michael Larabel in Display Drivers on 27 December 2010. Page 4 of 4. 29 Comments

The Unigine Tropics performance had fluctuated a bit more over the course of the year and is actually slower now than it was last December.

Between Catalyst 10.4 and Catalyst 10.5 the Unigine Heaven performance had taken a huge dive and its been running much slower ever since.

At all resolutions the Unigine Heaven performance had taken a major nosedive at this stage. Why? Well, the Catalyst 10.3 drivers and earlier had a hard time handling this OpenGL technology demo atop the Unigine Engine. With these earlier drivers, most of the textures were not rendered correctly and there was a host of other problems, but because of not being busy with work, the Radeon HD 5770 performance was higher with the broken drivers. Now that Unigine Heaven is running correctly on the hardware, and there is even OpenGL tessellation support, the performance is lower.

For the most part the Catalyst Linux driver 3D performance has improved over the course of the year. In the Catalyst 10.3 and 10.4 drivers there seemed to be major performance optimizations that were carried out while there was a one-month regression in the binary driver stack with Catalyst 10.6. This was corrected a month later. Our only tests not really following this trend were Warsow, Unigine Tropics, and Unigine Heaven.

Besides bringing up the performance, the 2010 Catalyst updates have brought support for new GPUs, Eyefinity capabilities, support for the newest OpenGL specifications, and other work. Going into 2011 we will hopefully see this work continue. It would also be ideal to see better tear-free/compositing capabilities along with enhanced X-Video Bitstream Acceleration or if AMD would just drop their poor implementation altogether and work on bringing up support for VDPAU, the Video Decode and Presentation API for Unix, but that would be a pipe dream.

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Michael Larabel is the principal author of and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 20,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via

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