Catalyst Omega - A Closer Look

👤by Tim Harmer Comments 📅18-12-14

This article serves as a companion piece to our previous article Not The End, Merely A New Beginning – AMD Launch Catalyst Omega, which has more general information on AMD Catalyst Omega features.

AMD’s Catalyst driver package has been a mainstay of their graphics program since the good old days of ATI. Through the years it has seen the incorporation of new proprietary technologies – including CrossFire, Eyefinity and most recently Mantle – as well as continual gradual improvements which result in better stability and performance. However in the past week it has briefly broken from its incremental naming scheme to issue a new baseline – the Catalyst Omega Special Edition drivers.

Chock full of new features for the home and gamers, Catalyst Omega will be a new milestone for performance and from which new AMD Catalyst revision are released. Furthermore it incorporates the technologies which could be critically important in the coming months, allowing AMD a head start before new hardware announcements at CES2015.

The name - Catalyst Omega – immediately underscores the importance of the update in a way that a simple number cannot. Whilst ‘Catalyst 14.9.3 beta candidate 3’ sends gamers to sleep (unless it contains a critical fix for their game of the month) Omega turns heads and should have even the mainstream user taking note. Of course, that also means that the new driver package needs to be the most stable released, and AMD are hoping that their crowdsourced priority list for bug fixes will have nailed down major problems before they occur.

More broadly, as we discussed in the earlier article, Catalyst Omega introduces a host of new features, features which will have quite variable impact on day-to-day experiences. Baked-in support for FreeSync, AMD's means of tapping in to the new VESA Adaptive Sync standard for monitors connected through DisplayPort, is perhaps the most important in the long term. Offering low-latency, tearing-free gaming experiences without relying on V-SYNC and locked 60fps frame rates, FreeSync is set to be a low-cost alternative to NVIDIA G-Sync. Others such as Virtual Super Resolution, video upscaling, and OpenGL 1.2 support will be valued based on the type of user and hardware you have access to, but all should be championed.

AMD Catalyst Omega, In Their Own Words

The latest major release of our drivers are available as a free upgrade for AMD customers. In addition to releasing new versions of the system software at regular intervals, AMD released an AMD Catalyst™ Omega special edition software update that will include enhancements to enrich the user experience.

Why? Today’s hardware and software have become highly interconnected and interdependent dynamically interacting to shape a cohesive computing unit. This symbiotic relationship between hardware and software is vital to the ongoing evolution of future computing devices. New software becomes incorporated into an existing generation of hardware, enabling faster, more capable, and more reliable performance.

The timing of this release is of course notable. All the major 2014 titles have now been released and in some cases are on to their third or fourth performance/bugfix patch. The large Triple-A market gets a breather, meaning that game-day driver releases won’t be as thick and fast as they have been in the last two months. Rolling in these improvements into a stable baseline to work from lets AMD streamline their own patch development process until the next major release, and prepare for cutting-edge hardware likely to see the light of day for the first time at CES and then a little later at GDC.

Today we'll be looking at two core aspects of the Catalyst Omega drivers: performance improvements and VSR.

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