ATI Serves Up CATALYST Update

ATI Technologies Wednesday took the wraps off of CATALYST 3.8, a software suite for the company’s RADEON family of desktop graphics products designed especially for 3D developers.

The release is the latest of twelve upgrades available for download that the Markham, Ont.-based chipmaker has committed itself to this year and piggybacks off of the release of its RADEON 9800 XT and RADEON 9600 XT chips for top-end desktop and workstation systems.

The upgrade includes its OVERDRIVE technology, which is an over-clocking tester for RADEON 9800 XT users as well as VPU RECOVER, a software recovery feature that compensates for graphics hardware hangs. This feature also offers a direct feedback and bug report mechanism.

“ATI is on a mission to deliver the most stable, performance-driven and feature-rich software possible,” ATI vice president Ben Bar-Haim. “Key industry support and innovative features like ‘ATI OVERDRIVE’ and ‘VPU RECOVER’ help us raise the software performance bar, deliver new and exciting experiences to all PC users.”

Analysts say the improvements help ATI customers take major steps towards crash-proofing PCs.

“One of the biggest problems with Microsoft Windows has been stability and one of the biggest causes of instability, until now, has been graphics drivers,” said industry analyst Rob Enderle. “ATI’s successful progress in addressing this problem is impressive. The 3.8 version of CATALYST now represents the state-of-the-art in terms of providing a stable, reliable, and feature-rich PC graphics solution”.

In addition to stability, the CATALYST 3.8 software suite includes the introduction of SMARTSHADER Effects, a feature that brings high-end shader effects to older games. The technology allows for new visual environments with new shaders such as Inverse-Color, Sketch, Stylized Black & White and ASCII.

The company says the software also has an expansion to ATI’s MULTIMEDIA CENTER with the addition of a new player application and EAZYLOOK, as well as the introduction of an easy-to-use version of HYDRAVISION.

The toolbox also has dedicated Linux support with six driver releases scheduled per year, the company said.

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