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AMD Catalyst 14.2 Beta driver brings Mantle improvements and more

AMD Catalyst 14.2 Beta driver brings Mantle improvements and more

AMD Catalyst

AMD has announced the release of its latest beta driver, which brings improvements for Battlefield and Minecraft users.

AMD Catalyst 14.2 beta is available to download now from the AMD driver site and although AMD is releasing it to coincide with the launch of Thief it doesn't actually support any particular improvements for the game. Instead AMD simply highlights how AMD Radeon customers will have day-one support for "4K gaming, AMD Eyefinity technology, AMD CrossFire™ technology and advantageous DirectX® 11 performance."

What the driver does include, though, are fixes for the Mantle codepath of Battlefield 4, multi-GPU frame-pacing and it also 'fixes' Minecraft.
  • Hangs and stuttering resolved for the Mantle codepath in Battlefield 4™; users are now encouraged to try mGPU
  • Multi-GPU frame pacing in Battlefield 3™ and Battlefield 4™ is now enabled for non-XDMA configurations running resolutions >1600p.
  • We fixed Minecraft! Sorry about that, builders.
  • Intermittent hangs and crashes should be resolved in 3D applications

Thief, the re-imaging of the hit stealth game, launched today in America and hits UK shelves on Friday. It is set to receive a Mantle-supporting patch in March, which should bring some performance improvements. The patched version will also support TrueAudio.

Although not specifically related to this release AMD has also highlighted some improvements to its open source driver, X.ORG repository. Highlights include support for the Video Compression Engine (VCE), which brings hardware-acceleraated encoding of h.264. There are also 'substantial' OpenGL feature upgrades, with support for v4.3.
  • 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.

15 Comments

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lilgoth89 25th February 2014, 17:04 Quote
it would be great to see bit tech get as many cards as possible and test them with the up to date drivers as they all seem to give ''performance benefits' and it would be interesting to see just how much extra performance has been gained from updated drivers
LordPyrinc 25th February 2014, 19:20 Quote
Yeah... I've always been a bit dubious about some of the claims a certain other graphics card company makes about increases in performance from driver updates. Maybe they tell the truth, maybe they stretch the truth? I try not to think too much about it. Besides, if there is any detectable gain, then it is good either way. Much better than being stuck with the stock drivers.
Crunch77 25th February 2014, 21:46 Quote
Only played a little BF4 with these, but they seem to have cured the short freezes experienced with the Beta 14.1.
Using an ATI 7850.
schmidtbag 26th February 2014, 15:07 Quote
What I've always wondered is if benchmarking websites re-run the same tests for all other GPUs listed. For example, I just read the article for the Titan Black today, but were tests re-run for the 780Ti and the old titan? There have been several driver updates since the release of both of those, which would make a difference. Same goes for all the R9 GPUs in the same article.

AMD's drivers have always been pretty bad at release time. I think if they were benchmarked based on their drivers a year after release and people would consider them more often.
Dogbert666 26th February 2014, 15:55 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by schmidtbag
What I've always wondered is if benchmarking websites re-run the same tests for all other GPUs listed. For example, I just read the article for the Titan Black today, but were tests re-run for the 780Ti and the old titan? There have been several driver updates since the release of both of those, which would make a difference. Same goes for all the R9 GPUs in the same article.

AMD's drivers have always been pretty bad at release time. I think if they were benchmarked based on their drivers a year after release and people would consider them more often.

How closely did you read it? It's stated on the Test Setup page which drivers are used for which products. In older reviews this page may not always have been updated when it should've been but I'm keeping a closer eye on it now. I even pointed out that I've culled a number of results for the BioShock and BF4 tests precisely because the new Nvidia drivers give performance boosts, so comparing them to cards I hadn't retested would be silly.

We typically only use non-beta drivers for stability unless there's a specific reason to use beta ones. We try to keep the charts as updated as possible but honestly if I retested every card every time there was a driver update I wouldn't get anything else done!
schmidtbag 26th February 2014, 16:04 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dogbert666
How closely did you read it? It's stated on the Test Setup page which drivers are used for which products. In older reviews this page may not always have been updated when it should've been but I'm keeping a closer eye on it now. I even pointed out that I've culled a number of results for the BioShock and BF4 tests precisely because the new Nvidia drivers give performance boosts, so comparing them to cards I hadn't retested would be silly.

We typically only use non-beta drivers for stability unless there's a specific reason to use beta ones. We try to keep the charts as updated as possible but honestly if I retested every card every time there was a driver update I wouldn't get anything else done!

Haha that happened to be the one and only page I completely skipped, because in most websites it tells me stuff I already know and/or don't care about. I guess this time around it did actually contain info I care about. Sorry about that. Note that I have no intention on ever getting a GPU like this, so I'm really just curious as to what it has to offer. I tend to put more time into what I read when it's a product I'm thinking of getting.

My point remains the same about some other websites, but I think I'm going to have to take a closer look at their Test Setup pages (or their equivalent).
Dogbert666 26th February 2014, 16:17 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by schmidtbag
Haha that happened to be the one and only page I completely skipped, because in most websites it tells me stuff I already know and/or don't care about. I guess this time around it did actually contain info I care about. Sorry about that. Note that I have no intention on ever getting a GPU like this, so I'm really just curious as to what it has to offer. I tend to put more time into what I read when it's a product I'm thinking of getting.

My point remains the same about some other websites, but I think I'm going to have to take a closer look at their Test Setup pages (or their equivalent).

Haha, no harm done. Always worth checking though for things like that, plus then you can point out anything we might have missed or done wrong ;)
B1GBUD 26th February 2014, 16:37 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by AMD
We fixed Minecraft! Sorry about that, builders.

Yay!
Chris_Waddle 26th February 2014, 16:55 Quote
Personally these Beta drivers are the best drivers that I have ever used in terms of a performance boost.

I bought a couple of 290X's (watercooled now) to mainly play BF4 on. My original experience on the 13.12 drivers was a slight disappointment to be honest. They ran much smoother than my Titans which was great, but the frame rates were slow.

The 14.1 drivers were a disaster for me. BF4 was truely awful and mantle even caused blue screens. They didn't last long on my system.

I'd been running BF4 at 1920x1080 because of the poor frame rates on previous drivers (rather than 5760x1080 as I do other games) - I want full eye candy. The best I was getting at this resolution with everything on max was around 100fps, dropping to around 60.

After installing the new beta drivers last night it was a totally different experience in BF4. With mantle on, the first scene on the single player ran at an almost constant 200fps and it was silky smooth. Once through that, in the building site, the lowest it dropped to was around 170fps.

Multiplayer was a similar experience dropping to a low of around 150fps.

If I get time tonight, I will re-enable eyefinity and see how it runs over 3 screens. Last night was the first time that I was glad I had replaced the Titans with the 290X's.
Pookie 27th February 2014, 10:36 Quote
I will give these drivers a shot over the weekend. I gave up gaming on my 290x a month ago and went back to my 6950 which never crashes.
Kovoet 27th February 2014, 10:40 Quote
Anyone tried this in 7970's yet
B1GBUD 27th February 2014, 12:11 Quote
I tried it with my 7950, still get huge frame drops at times on BF4, particularly when I ADS. Think I might have to switch back to 13.12 because I'm not that impressed.
Corky42 27th February 2014, 12:24 Quote
Is Microsoft's new DirectX going to kill Mantle ?
rollo 27th February 2014, 12:27 Quote
Corky fueling the flames lol. As to your question depends if its the Xbox ones low level API they are sticking into it. If so you never know what can happen.
Corky42 27th February 2014, 12:31 Quote
No. The GDC have published next months sessions, and three sessions from Microsoft talk about the next DirectX being more direct to metal.
I made a post in the gaming forum here with more details.

EDIT: techreport.com gives a few more details, but it seems to me Microsoft is hitting back at AMD.
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