AMD releases Catalyst 10.6 driver

ATI's Catalyst team is now ready to share the fruits of its latest monthly driver grind, and has released Catalyst 10.6 to the world of Radeon owners.

While previous driver updates have focused on 3D features, this time it's video playback that's been given the driver makers' attention. For a start, the driver enables a number of ATI GPUs to accelerate playback of video using Adobe's latest Flash Player 10.1.

According to AMD, the new driver will enable your PC to take it easy on the system resources when playing back Flash video. This feature is supported on Radeon HD 5000 and 4000-series GPUs, as well as Mobility Radeon HD 400 chips and Radeon HD 3000-series integrated graphics.

In addition to this, AMD has introduced some handy features to clean up video-playback niggles on its Radeon HD 5000-series GPUs. This includes video de-blocking support, to clean up the blocky squares often seen in video compressed at a low bit-rate.

There's also now support for mosquito-noise removal, which will help prevent the shimmering compression noise often found around the edges of sharp outlines. As with the video de-blocking feature, however, this is only available to owners of Radeon HD 5000-series cards.

As with Nvidia's recently-released 257.21 driver, Catalyst 10.6 also brings support for OpenGL 4 to AMD's latest Radeon HD 5000-series chips, while also bringing support for OpenGL 3.3 to the rest of the Radeon HD GPUs.

As you would expect, there are also plenty of bug fixes and performance tweaks in Catalyst 10.6, which you can read all about in the release notes. Among the claimed improvements is a frame-rate boost of up to seven per cent in Crysis Warhead when using a Radeon HD 5000-series chip.

AMD also claims that the driver can result in a five per cent score increase in 3DMark Vantage when using a Radeon HD 5970. Nvidia made a very similar claim about 3DMark Vantage performance when using its latest 257.21 driver.

Catalyst 10.6 is available to download now, and supports the 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows 7, Vista and XP.