Down the Road...
Uncommon for them, ATI has also laid bare their plans for Catalyst over the next few releases. There are several further improvements and some fairly significant additional features:
- Significant improvements in HyperMemory for 64 and 128MB boards will give budget users a nice performance boost when they install the 5.7 release for all applications that require a large amount of memory (ie: games!). ATI hasn't mentioned how exactly they are doing this but they show performance improvements up to 150% compared to the upcoming 5.6 in some cases.
- Media Center Edition extensions
Coming next month in release 5.7 are new Windows Media Center Edition extensions that should hopefully allow easier setup of our displays on Windows MCE based computers. The new extension will allow users to adjust settings in a living room environment and will support all the HDTV resolutions (including 1080p should you be lucky enough to have a capable set). Scaling controls should allow us to resize out desktop to fit our display screen.
- Thanks to CCC 64bit processor support, Windows XP 64bit users will be able to get the benefits of Catalyst Control Center when revision 5.7 is released.
- Also next month will come official support for CrossFire in CCC. Officially announced only a week and a half ago, CrossFire is ATI's answer to nVidia's multi-GPU SLI technology. CrossFire isn't available yet, but support in the drivers will be there starting with the 5.7 set. More info about CrossFire is available in our quick look at the emerging technology.
- Improved HDTV support will arrive with Catalyst 5.8. A new HDTV Wizard will hopefully mean that setting up a HDTV will be as easy as setting up a normal display. DVI HDTVs will also be supported in the 5.8 drivers. If it can handle my 32" 4:3 CRT HDTV that I haven't be able to configure properly since I bought it then I'll be impressed for sure.
- New CCC Wizard
A new Catalyst Wizard will contain a list of tasks that envelope all the functionality from CCC. This should make controlling CCC easy for novices.
The Wizard will work on 640x480 low resolution displays as well so in those cases where you can't fit the entire CCC panel on the screen (CCC was designed for 800x600 minimum), you should be able to use the wizard to adjust the display. Speaking from personal experience, this will be particularly useful for HTPC users trying to setup their HDTV sets.
Whether or not ATI can come through on these feature promises remains to be seen, but the simple fact that they've revealed them to us is a good indication that they probably already got them working and in some builds floating around. If ATI sticks to their monthly release cycle then we don't have long to wait to find out.