AMD focuses on software; enter Radeon Software: Crimson

Company: AMD
Author: Pete "Kombatant" Vagiakos
Editor: Charles "Lupine" Oliver
Date: November 2nd, 2015

Out with Catalyst, in with Radeon Software

When we usually talk about large companies like AMD and their releases, we mostly talk about hardware. New cards, new exciting features, speed, 4K gameplay, all that. As any software engineer (like yours truly) though will tell you, there is one vital element that brings it all together and can make or break an otherwise successful piece of hardware. Yes, we will talk about software.

One of the best news we've heard from AMD during the past few years was the fact that Raja Koduri came back from Apple. Those of you who follow graphics technology news will also remember that, starting this September, AMD decided to consolidate its software divisions under one umbrella, imaginatively called the Radeon Technologies Group, under non other than Mr. Koduri himself. This was done, according to AMD, to "capture all the major inflection points in the visualization and gaming industries like DirectX 12 and Virtual Reality" and the group will be "tasked with propeling the industry forward by driving performance-per-watt with new GPUs, creating innovative new technologies, and making sure the software that supports GPUs is world class". So the team went hard at work and its first priority was to revamp the company's software strategy.

Catalyst is dead, long live Radeon Software!

These days, graphics software is not just the driver; if that were the case it wouldn't be nessecary to download 300+ MB of software each time a new release is upon us. Indeed, you have the control panel, graphics applications, libraries, tools, user interfaces and many more things that are neatly packaged for your enjoyment - we still call them "drivers" though. So the newly formed Radeon Technologies Group decided that its software suite would simply be called Radeon Software from now on.

For the past 13 years, the Catalyst Control Centre was the front face of the Catalyst drivers. I still remember the time when it was introduced; it was a bit crude at first, people were complaining about launch times but it got much better fast.

But even though it received an overhaul in 2011, the design philosophy behind it remained the same. So AMD decided to start fresh and develop something that would be better suited to the user's modern needs. The Catalyst Software Suite had to be retired and something new had to take its place. Enter Radeon Software: Crimson.

The new naming convention is simple enough; once a year there will be a major driver release that will bring forth a multitude of new features and fixes. This will take its name from a red hue; this year, Crimson takes front and centre. All the other releases during the year will continue to provide your regular dosage of features, bug fixes and new games support, but will still be named by the well established Year.Month version number. So if AMD releases a driver in March 2016, it will be named Radeon Software Crimson 16.03.

Since screenshots speak louder than words, here are some of the slides that present the new Control Panel, or Radeon Settings in all its glory.

AMD focused on speed, simplicity and intuitiveness for its new Control Panel. We are promised an almost instantaneous launch and the opportunity to customize each game you own to have not only its own specific graphics settings, but its own overclocking profile as well. All the settings you know and love are of course still there, just in a prettier and easier to find package.

So when can we get our hands on those new revamped drivers? AMD promises a release by years' end, with even more details appearing in the coming weeks. So stay tuned; this is shaping up to be a pretty exciting release for all Radeon owners. Before we go, here's a nice video by AMD illustrating all the cool features that Radeon Software will encompass.