AMD has posted a beta graphics driver package, Catalyst 13.8, which it claims resolves the frame latency issues plaguing its Graphics Core Next (GCN) boards when used in CrossFire.
The issue, which only occurs when two or more graphics processing units are joined together in a CrossFire configuration, causes what is known as micro-stuttering: a juddery appearance in a rendered scene despite apparently high frame rates, caused by variations in the delay between each frame. With each frame arriving at varying delays, the eye picks up a clear stutter - despite reported framerates that should theoretically give a smooth gaming experience.
While numerous third-party workarounds for the issue - ranging from trading in multiple cards for a high-performance single-GPU to software tools like RadeonPro - exist, AMD has been claimed to be working on the problem internally resulting in the impending release of Catalyst 13.8 with CrossFire Frame Pacing.
Available now in beta form, Catalyst 13.8 adds various new features - including full support for the latest OpenGL 4.3 application programming interface (API) - but, more importantly for some, aims to resolve the micro-stutter problem in CrossFire configurations. Using the new driver, AMD claims, frames should be generated at a more stable rate with a fixed delay - meaning a completely smooth image and an experience far closer to what measured framerates would suggest.
There are a few restrictions, however: Frame Pacing only works for games using the DirectX 10 or 11 API; DirectX 9 games don't appear to be compatible with the fix. More critically, the maximum resolution supported is 2,560x1,600 on a single display - meaning those who bought a multi-GPU system for high-resolution gaming across multiple monitors will still be left with micro-stutter issues until AMD can add a more comprehensive fix.
Still, for those who game on a single monitor using CrossFire, the new driver is certainly worth checking out. Full details, and links to the downloads, are available on the AMD website