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Want enhanced PC graphics? You'll want to try AMD's beta "mantle" drivers

Advanced Micro Devices took the first fruits of its "Mantle" API live over the weekend with the release of the AMD Catalyst 14.1 Beta for Windows and AMD Mobility Catalyst 14.1 Beta for Windows drivers.

Mantle was "many years in the making" and brings a "lower-level" graphics Application Programming Interface (API) for PCs to game developers for the first time, according to AMD. Working with partners like DICE and Oxide Games, the API lets developers write code that takes advantage of the graphics processor and reduce software bottlenecks.

"In its current iteration, the Mantle API uniquely leverages the hardware in the Graphics Core Next architecture (GCN) of modern AMD Radeon GPUs for peak performance. More broadly, Mantle is functionally similar to DirectX and OpenGL, but Mantle is different in that it was purpose-built as a lower level API," AMD said in a statement.

The chip maker explained that "higher-level" APIs that translate code above the hardware/firmware level of the computing stack can make software compatible across different graphics platforms but can also result in overall performance and efficiency losses.

Some of the advantages gained by installing the new drivers included enhanced AMD CrossFire frame pacing and support for 4K displays and Eyefinity non-XDMA CrossFire solutions, AMD said. The company offered some examples of issues resolved by the Catalyst 14.1 Beta driver for Windows desktop PCs, including the elimination of "ground texture flickering seen in Total War: Rome 2 with high settings" and "flickering texture corruption when playing Call of Duty: Ghosts (multi-player) in the space station level."

The two beta Catalyst drivers support AMD's latest GPUs and APUs, including:

  • AMD Radeon R9 Series GPUs
  • AMD Radeon R7 Series GPUs
  • AMD Radeon HD 7000 Series GPUs
  • AMD Radeon HD 8000 Series GPUs
  • AMD A10-7000 Series and AMD A8-7000 Series APUs, including the new A10-7850K and A10-7700K desktop APUs

You can download AMD Catalyst 14.1 Beta for Windows here and AMD Mobility Catalyst 14.1 Beta for Windows here. Also check out AMD's landing page for the new Catalyst drivers, which list all compatible GPUs and APUs, as well as issues resolved in a number of games and system configurations.