AMD unveils major GPU driver update

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    AMD has announced a major overhaul of their Catalyst graphics card driver software today, adding new features, improving performance and fixing a large number of bugs. The 'special edition' driver, which is the result of months of work, is one of the biggest AMD has released.

    The Catalyst Omega driver boasts some serious performance improvements in many hardware configurations due to a more efficient design. AMD states that you can expect up to 19% more performance than the previous driver (Catalyst 14.11.2) when running games on high-end graphics cards, and up to 29% more performance on APU-based systems.

    In our own testing, performed by our resident hardware reviewer Steve, we noted significant gains on high-end GPUs in a number of titles including BioShock Infinite and Metro Redux. However in some games, even those in AMD's Gaming Evolved program, there was no performance improvement at all: Watch Dogs, Battlefield 4, Sleeping Dogs, Tomb Raider and Crysis 3 are regularly seen in our hardware benchmarks, and recorded the same performance as the previous driver.

    Virtual Super Resolution (VSR) allows gamers to super sample their games, rendering at up to 4K quality before being downscaled to a lower resolution monitor. This form of anti-aliasing is arguably the best, significantly reducing jagged edges while keeping the game sharp. It comes at a high performance cost, though, so it's best suited to older titles unless you have 4K-capable hardware.

    Aside from VSR, AMD has also improved frame pacing on both Dual Graphics and CrossFire systems, reducing stuttering and frame time variances.

    As for video features, AMD has implemented several new ones into Catalyst Omega. Fluid Motion improves interpolation during video playback to remove judder, especially while panning, although for movie playback this isn't always a desired effect. However you might want to switch on Contour Removal, which does a great job of removing compression artifacts without reducing detail.

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