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ATI releases Catalyst 10.4

Following on from the Catalyst 10.4 teaser that AMD pushed out a couple of weeks ago, AMD has now unveiled the fully grown-up, WHQL-certified version of the driver.

As with the preview, one of the driver’s main advantages is reducing the unusually drawn-out load time for maps in Battlefield 2: Bad Company. However, while the driver should reduce load times on Radeon HD 5000-series cards, AMD says that you may still be checking your watch if you’re waiting between maps and using an earlier Radeon HD card.

There’s another slight treat for owners of Radeon HD 5000-series cards in the form of improved performance in Stalker – Clear Sky. That’s the game that came out at the end of 2008, as opposed to the latest Stalker - Call of Pripyat. According to AMD, owners of Radeon HD 5970 cards should see an improvement of up to six percent, while owners of 5800 and 5700-series cards should see a three percent speed-up.

The revamped driver also offers a few new video features. Most notably, it now supports H.264 video at Level 5.1 on all media players that support the standard, potentially enabling HD video to be played back at 1,920 x 1,080 at over 120fps. As well as this, there’s also an option for enabling GPGPU acceleration when using Windows 7’s drag and drop video conversion system for portable video players.

There are few issues still festering in AMD’s Catalyst labs, though, and these include visible corruption when playing back movies using Flash Player 10.1 in Windows Vista with Radeon HD 4000-series cards. AMD also says that it’s observed a massive performance-drop of around 34 percent on some cards when playing Empire: Total War with anti-aliasing enabled in Windows 7.

The new driver supports all desktop Radeon GPUs and IGPs, from the 24 series to the 5900 series, and also works with a number of mobile GPUs, provided your laptop allows them to be installed. Catalyst 10.4 supports Windows 7, Vista and XP, and can be downloaded from here.