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Friday, 19 December 2014


AMD Omega Drivers: Review and Verdict

AMD's new Catalyst Omega drivers have been released, and this may be the single-biggest driver update we've ever seen in the new 'One big Driver per Year' strategy by AMD. There are performance optimizations for a range of AMD's cards, but more importantly, AMD has added a heap of features, like downsampling support and FreeSync. This is a big deal for AMD, which has been lagging behind Nvidia's GeForce Experience Software, especially since the release of the GTX 970 and 980.
 The best performance improvements come for AMD's top-end graphics cards, the R9 295X2, 290X, 290, and 285. GPU optimization has let AMD crank 10-20% more performance out of these cards across a swath of popular games. So if you own of of these then you are sitting on a potential gold mine yet to be dug.

A new feature for the R9 cards, Virtual Super Resolution (VSR), is similar to Dynamic Super Resolution (DSR) found on Nvidia's Maxwell cards. Don't get blown away by these big names they, basically it renders a game at a higher resolution (up to 4K) then displays it at a lower resolution (typically the monitor's native, like 1080p), making for smoother textures and edges and simulating super sampling anti-aliasing (SSAA) for games that don't support it. Unfortunately, VSR's resolution is limited to 3200x1800 on several cards, though it can go up to 3840x2160 on the R9 285.

The drivers also enable AMD's open-source FreeSync technology, which will reduce stuttering and tearing in games running at less than 60 FPS when using a compatible monitor—the first of which should be hitting the market in early 2015.

Even for older AMD Radeon cards, the Catalyst Omega drivers provide a slew of bug fixes and performance tweaks. For AMD systems running dual graphics (using an AMD APU and GPU in conjunction) or CrossFire (dual-GPU) setups, frame pacing has been an issue, which causes games to feel choppy or sluggish—despite a high framerate—when the frames are not delivered at a regular interval. The Catalyst Omega greatly improves this issue, offering as much as a 29% performance increase.
AMD APUs—which combine an AMD CPU with Radeon graphics on the same chip—see the biggest benefit here. Per AMD’s supplied statistics, several titles see frame rate increases in the double-digit percentages compared to the launch-day Catalyst 14.2 driver. (I don’t have an APU system on hand to test myself.)
You may also see some frame rate boosts when you’re using discrete Radeon graphics cards, but even AMD’s supplied stats (which compare Catalyst Omega against the older Catalyst 13.12 driver) show modest improvements.

Those are only the key consumer features included in Catalyst Omega. The full list of new goodies is too long to list in full, but here are a few more highlights:

  •     The hair-enhancing TressFX 3.0 adds support for animal fur.
  •     AMD’s Gaming Evolved client now includes Mantle support for game streaming
  •     OpenCL 2.0 and OpenGL ES3.0 are now supported
  •     AMD CodeXL 1.6 and HSA Runtime support for developers
  •     Catalyst packages for the Red Hat and Ubuntu Linux distros
  •     Streamlined Catalyst installation and faster hardware detection

Legitreviews and other credible sources point out that AMD's frame pacing improvements are for "15 popular game titles," including Batman: Arkham Origins, Tomb Raider, and the Metro series.

Nvidia's still beating AMD in the hardware game, but this is a much-needed driver update to bring AMD's software closer to Nvidia's and giving a new leash on life to the existing and older range of AMD cards.
Also when the new upcoming R9 300 series GPU start showing up by early 2015 they'll have a very strong software base to capitalize upon. In the end all I can say is that the whole AMD vs Nvidia graphic card war just got a bit more hotter giving the consumers a wider and more flexible base to choose and select from.
Download the new Omega Drivers here

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