Catalyst drivers get biggest overhaul in years

AMD has introduced radical changes to its Catalyst graphics configuration utility - including a totally new interface - in what the firm claims is its biggest update since 2004.

The company yesterday announced its new and improved Catalyst Control Center user interface (UI), which is available to downloaded now as an optional extra, but is set to become integrated into the software in early 2011.

Catalyst Control Center now features a web browser-style interface, including a search engine and navigation bar into the improved UI.

The software revolves around two main screen views: a basic range of settings including presets for mainstream users, and more comprehensive selection of tweaks aimed at advanced users.

Another of the software's key features is weekly Catalyst Application Profile (CAP) updates, enabling users to avoid waiting for the monthly updates the company has so far released.

The bad news is for Windows XP users, who won't be able to upgrade to the new version of Catalyst Control Center at all.

AMD claims the interface has been made easier to use, adopting a task-based approach to users' settings that promises "one-click" access to all of the program's functions.

Among the tweaks applied in the Catalyst 10.12 driver release itself are the inclusion of DivX acceleration for its Radeon HD 6800-series graphics processors, support for OpenGL 4.1, and support for version 2.3 of AMD's Stream developer toolkit, which claims to boost OpenCL performance.

The company is also teasing users with further additions to be released later, including an improved version of its Eyefinity technology, which spreads the on-screen image across an array of monitors, providing a more immersive experience.

Introduced in 2002, Catalyst was one of the first programs to allow users detailed control over their GPU settings.

No firm release date has been given for the release of a Catalyst version integrating the Control Center UI.

Catalyst 10.12 and the new version of Catalyst Control Center are available to download here.