Driver stability was one of the main concerns facing previous versions of CCC. This time around however, AMD have been working in close conjunction with Windows to ensure the highest level of stability within Vista.
|"From day one, ATI played a key role in helping us design and validate the new driver model at the heart of Windows Vista and ATI has since developed extremely robust and performant drivers that highlight the capabilities of our new operating system."|
Division, Microsoft Corporation
Chris Jones, Corporate VP Windows Core OS
This development partnership has been going on for over 4 years now so we can expect to see more than just promises. AMD also promise to continue the release trend seen with XP based CCCs, by releasing a new WHQL certified driver every month, as they have done for several years.
The New Control Center
The 7.1 Vista release of Catalyst Control Center has been designed with some more new features, the first of which that I shall mention is the new Installer, there isn't much to say on this front other than it is meant to be faster during installation and uninstallation than ever before.
The second improvement takes us back to the performance enhancements with some major architectural changes being made to the control center. The advantages of which can be seen here:
The image above shows some fairly substantial changes to how the control center operates and as you can see, has great effect on loading times. This coupled with the lower resource usage will undoubtedly help while running on Vista - which is quite the system hog in comparison to XP. However, these performance boosts are not limited to Vista, the optimization of the CCC has a dramatic effect on computers running XP as well. Infact, the largest performance gain comes on low end computers running XP...
When looking at the specifications for the 'High-end System' one can see that this actually falls a fair bit short of the standard enthusiasts computer and with C2D performance levels at what they are we can expect very dramatic decreases in loading time.
The new Catalyst Control Center, as I mention above, carries some helpful extras. The GUI remains much the same, meaning users don't have much to adjust to, which on a new Operating System will be quite a relief. The first addition here is the new 3D Preview function. This feature allows users to get a live preview of what exactly is affected by certain alterations such as Anti-Aliasing and Anisotropic Filtering. The preview window splits in the middle, giving a 'before and after' sort of effect, which in my opinion is a fantastic addition for the novice user.
The preview has both a Static and Live mode. Windows XP will be limited solely to the Static preview, whereas Vista will be able to run both. Both will support the ability to zoom in to high magnification to get a real look at what is actually happening when they make alterations.
Another advancement that will be available at a slightly later date is the Catalyst Install Manager. This is another integrated feature which allows user to manually or automatically download any available updates. We are told that the update manager will only download updates that are not already included in the installed version or updates that have already been downloaded, thus reducing the size of the downloads.
Two further updates that have already been planned are CCC for Linux and MultiSample Adaptive Anti-Aliasing.
The Linux CCC will not be as feature packed as the Windows versions and will initially include:
- Display and Panel Settings
- 3D settings - Vsync, Quad Buffer support, Anti Aliasing etc..
AMD did mention however that it is their intention to bring the level of features seen in CCC Linux to the same seen in Windows versions.
And last but by no means least, the MultiSample Adaptive Anti-Aliasing. Until now, Adaptive AA was only able to make use of Super Sampling. The new CCC will allow Multi Sampling on all alpha blended / transparent layers, greatly improving image quality with a minimal toll on performance.
So all in all it would appear that at the moment, ATI graphics solutions are the way to go for the best vista experience, and if the future updates are much of the same, will be for some time.
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