Nvidia might have grabbed the headlines recently for its release of the performance-enhancing ForceWare 260-series drivers, but AMD is looking to go one better - and has joined forces with Valve to distribute driver updates via Steam.
Valve's Steam platform is proving to be an incredibly popular software distribution system, offering users an easy way to buy software and keep it up to date - and providing developers with a robust platform that has anti-piracy features built in.
The company's deal with AMD, however, marks the first time Steam has been used to keep critical sections of the operating system updated.
Users of Steam that have machines using AMD or ATI graphics will be given the option to fold their graphics drivers into the platform, with Steam keeping an eye on each new release and prompting the user when updated versions are available. If the user decides to update, installing the new drivers should be as simple as downloading a game.
Jason Holtman, Valve's director of business development, says that "PC gamers demand the most of their gaming hardware and providing these updates automatically will help ensure those playing via Steam are playing at optimal performance," offering his company's platform a key edge over rival software distribution offerings.
Ben Bar-Haim, corporate vice president of software at AMD, was equally hopeful for the partnership, stating that "the availability of ATI Catalyst graphics driver updates directly on the Steam platform can help further enhance the PC gaming experience for users of ATI Radeon products."
So far there's no news of a similar deal with Nvidia, but if Valve can get both the red and green camps to play nicely on Steam it will not only have achieved a minor miracle, but also given itself a hefty advantage over its rivals in the digital download business.