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ATI Video Processing Upgrade 142

Posted by Zonk
from the shinier-all-around dept.
An anonymous reader writes "FiringSquad has a hands-on look at ATI Catalyst 5.13 drivers for the Radeon X1800XL, with a focus on video quality. They say it's the greatest leap in video quality technology for ATI since the original Mach64-VT. They triple their HQV Benchmark DVD scores by adding diagonal filtering, unusual cadence detection, and even noise reduction. On top of the video quality improvements, the new drivers enable ATI's hardware H.264 support as well as hardware transcoding. Best of all, Catalyst 5.13 will be a free upgrade scheduled to be released to the public next week."
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ATI Video Processing Upgrade

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  • V 5.13 (Score:1, Informative)

    by matr0x_x (919985)
    Is actually a fairly minor change... the next version should be a FULL update.
    • Re:V 5.13 (Score:2, Offtopic)

      by The Ancients (626689)
      Want to play poker on your Mac?

      No - but I do want to know if the ATI update will run on my Mac.

    • Re:V 5.13 (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 16, 2005 @02:47PM (#14273364)
      Not really.

      Ati's naming scheme is this: major version number is the last years number (2004=4, 2005=5, 2006=6 etc) and the minor version number is the month. On special occasions the realese special versions, like this 5.13 at the end of the year.

      So, no, the version number says absolutely nothing about the amount of changes. The driver also have a 'real' version number displayed deep down somehwere in the control panel for real version number diehards.
      • by alexo (9335)

        > Ati's naming scheme is this: major version number is the last years number (2004=4,
        > 2005=5, 2006=6 etc) and the minor version number is the month. On special occasions
        > the realese special versions, like this 5.13 at the end of the year.


        So, for example, 4.3 is actually older than 4.12.
        • in almost every version numbering scheme 4.3 would be older than 4.13, in order to represent something comparable to the decimal number 4.13 4.1.3 would be used
  • all i have to say is (Score:5, Interesting)

    by know1 (854868) on Friday December 16, 2005 @01:58PM (#14272980)
    whenever i have used ATI on either windows or linux, something usually made the 3D display prone to being buggy as hell. maybe it's hardware, maybe it's thje driver, but nvidia have always been rock solid for me. maybe this improvement will fix ATI's problems
    • Ditto here (Score:4, Interesting)

      by phorm (591458) on Friday December 16, 2005 @02:24PM (#14273218) Journal
      On the laptop I run the ATI drivers, all up to the newest, remind me of the nightmarish win9x days with older ATI cards. In windows my previous experience with ATI cards has been frightening as well. What good are features and clarity if you're getting bluescreens or freezing?

      Now to be fair the NVidia cards have had some bugs, but generally not anything that seriously impacted usability, and the fix-time was usually much quicker for turnover.
      • I hear about problems with ATi drivers all the time, but I've never experienced it. I used to own a 1st generation Radeon AIW. In my PII-400 machine I used Windows 98-XP and Mandrake 7.2 Although I must admit that the lack of linux drivers for the TV-tuner (the AIW was the only TV I had) is probably what stopped me from switching over to linux full time back in college.

        But I never had a problem with stability; it never crashed. I'll also grant that the most advanced games I ever played on that machine

        • It really depends on when you buy the card and how long the drivers come out. My experience has been that the initial drivers are really unpleasant, but later fixes do come out that make them much improved - but of course by that time there are newer cards available.
      • I used to be strictly nVidia after bad experiences with ATi in the page (Rage Pro, yuck!), but a year or so ago I switched to an ATI X800 and haven't looked back. Drivers have been rock solid. I'd say ATi has really stepped up their driver/testing team.
      • The only problem I have had with ATI's drivers is with a slighly older Toshiba laptop where the official Toshiba drivers are based off of some Catalyst release back in 2002, and ATI's own drivers don't recognize the adaptor if I try to install them. So I'm stuck with the old 2002 drivers - but even so, they aren't unstable and take down Windows, there just seems to be some bugs with some of the features not working right.

        My ATI 9600Pro card in the desktop, running a newish version of ATI's drivers, works j
        • You need the Mobility Modder [driverheaven.net], which allows the Catalyst drivers to install on notebooks.

          Alternatively check if ATI's Catalyst Mobility drivers, designed specifically for notebooks, supports your brand of notebook.
    • I know this has a lot to do with game devs but for years it seemed like every single game that came out didn't work properly on ATI cards in some way or another and needed a patch. There was always some graphics bug preventing the game from working properly. That of course still happens today with all video cards including Nvidia ones. But for sure ATI cards owners have endured a lot of pain over the years due to buggy drivers. I can't believe in almost 2006 and that still can be an issue no matter what car
    • Yeah, right. This is why I have trouble understanding why they won't just open-source their driver. I mean if NVidia are ahead on the driver front, then it kind of makes sense that they don't open-source their software, because then they might end up losing the lead because their super-secret formula wouldn't be so super-secret anymore. I still wouldn't agree with them, but I'd understand their argument.

      I see so many people complaining about the ATI drivers, people who have a bad experience and decide ne
      • Congrats, out of all the operating systems running ATi cards, your Linux OS represents probably 2%. Who cares?

        No problems over here in Windows land and my ATi drivers.
        • You suffer too, because of all the sales ATI loses. When volume goes up, prices go down.
        • You missed the point. While you say you're doing fine with ATI under Windows, lots of people aren't. I used to use Windows, and I had problems there too. I believe that if they open-source their drivers, then they would greatly improve, and it would have the added benefit of allowing me to use the full power of my graphics card under Linux, too. Opening up the drivers would cost them nothing, but they would see an increase of sales to Linux users. When you're a big company like ATI, even less than 1% is a l
          • You'd like to think open source drivers would help, but I beg to disagree. Who would know their hardware better; themselves or a bunch of freelance hardware coders? Do you even realize how complex a GPU is?

            Also, they have constantly stated (and so has nVidia, I believe) why they cannot open source their drivers completely.

            Anyhow, I used to have problems with ATI drivers years ago, back in the Rage days. I was a strict nVidia guy up until about a year ago, when I decided to get an X800. Haven't had any probl
    • Neverwinter nights, Star wars: knights of the old republic, World of warcraft, call of duty 2, day of defeat: source, Dystopia, grand theft auto: san andreas, grand theft auto: vice city, grand theft auto 3, pretty much any playstation 2, nintendo 64, or ps1 emulator. ever played any of those? my ATI 9800 had massive problems with all of those. bad fps, artifacts, and, in the case of kotor, the game locks up if you look at any of the trees on dantooine (what the hell was up with that?. ) Paying 100 quid f
    • Just ask my friends how many Radeon 9600xt cards I've been through. So far my old GF4200ti has had to be a fall back for me a half-dozen times.
    • this baffles me, as i have noticed no difference between my nvidia and ati cards, except for the greater clarity and image quality on ati.
  • Best of all... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by daVinci1980 (73174) on Friday December 16, 2005 @01:59PM (#14272988) Homepage
    ...is that a hardware vendor is releasing drivers for free?

    Welcome to 2005, I realize things must be strange for you considering you've been frozen since 1930...
    • Re:Best of all... (Score:5, Informative)

      by hawkbug (94280) <psx@fimbleCHEETAH.com minus cat> on Friday December 16, 2005 @02:19PM (#14273177) Homepage
      I believe the point of that original statement was concerning the H.264 and DVD codec improvements compared to their main competitor, Nvidia. As you may or may not know, Nvidia charges money for their DVD codec:

      http://www.nvidia.com/object/dvd_decoder.html [nvidia.com]

      I will never buy another ATI product again because I've been burned so badly by drivers in the past - however, I'll give ATI credit for not following in the greedy footsteps of their competitor, Nvidia. Charging for a DVD codec that's optimized for their hardware is just stupid. It's not bad enough they charge hundreds of dollars for the hardware? I applaud ATI for this move.
      • Re:Best of all... (Score:5, Informative)

        by Jerry Coffin (824726) on Friday December 16, 2005 @02:50PM (#14273381)
        I'll give ATI credit for not following in the greedy footsteps of their competitor, Nvidia. Charging for a DVD codec that's optimized for their hardware is just stupid.

        There is a fundamental difference between the two though: ATI is providing this in the form of a driver that only works with ATI graphics cards. nVidia PureVideo, by contrast, is standard-based (admittedly not what you'd call an open standard, but a standard nonetheless) so it works with any video card that implements the standard.

        IOW, ATIs offering is "free", but tied directly to their hardware. nVidia's offering isn't tied to any particular hardware and is paid for directly instead.

        In most cases, "free" means you pay for it whether you want it or not.

        • IOW, ATIs offering is "free", but tied directly to their hardware. nVidia's offering isn't tied to any particular hardware and is paid for directly instead.

          Nvidia's video post processor, which is part of their pure video package, only works with the hardware of nvidia cards. Sure, it also has a software mode that sucks, but to get any real use out of it you need nvidia hardware to back it up. The mpeg decoder part of pure video does make use of standard interfaces to mpeg acceleration hardware and thus is
      • Re:Best of all... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by xtal (49134)
        Charging for a DVD codec that's optimized for their hardware is just stupid

        It's only stupid if nobody pays.
      • It's not bad enough they charge hundreds of dollars for the hardware?

        Oh dear lord, they are charging lots of money for their products! How could they? Seriously, NVIDIA and ATI aren't in the business to give us nice cards for free - they are there to make a profit. If charging several hundred dollars gets them a profit, then that's what they'll do. Quit this whole "greedy" thing, please. That's what a free market is about.

        • You obviously didn't carefully read my post - I think it's greedy to charge for the damn codec to use the hardware you already paid for. I never said they couldn't charge whatever they wanted for the gear, they obviously charge a ton of money for it. Then on top of that, you pay for a DVD codec. It doesn't make sense.
          • The point is, if they make money, then it makes sense. I don't understand your point of bringing up greed when it's their own self-interest that they and their stock-holders care about.

          • Yep.

            And Intel should provide us an entire OS and suite of applications for free when we buy their CPUs!

            (Oh, wait, I'm on Slashdot... I guess the implied sarcasm will be greeted with a "duh, yeah" look...)
      • Dont most nvidia graphics cards come with it anyway? I know my 5900 Ultra did, never looked on the discs that came with my 7800 GT since I use Linux.
    • by ivan256 (17499) * on Friday December 16, 2005 @02:33PM (#14273275)
      Welcome to 2005, I realize things must be strange for you considering you've been frozen since 1930...

      More likely the submitter owns Sony PCs.

      If you own a Sony computer (or a Mavica with an optical drive), don't lose your CDs!.
      • <cheap-shot>The replacement driver CDs probably come with rootkits anyway</cheap-shot>
      • I just bought a Sony notebook a few weeks ago (it got stolen a couple of days ago, but that's another story). They don't even give you CDs with it. They preinstall a utility on their computers that will use the optical drive to burn you recovery CDs. You actually have to produce the backup media yourself.
        • Wow, that's new.

          Of course I guess the reason mine might have been different is because it was one of the ultra-lights with no optical drive...
  • "Free" (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    This isn't really free, we don't get the source or even the freedom to distribute it. When will these changes make it into fglrx btw?
    • It's "free" as in it doesn't cost you anything to download. I think you mean "open".
    • This isn't really free, we don't get the source or even the freedom to distribute it.

      Is that like "It isn't really free until I have more control over it"?

      Ahh, fleeting freedom. To feel the wind in your face, to feel the grass under your feet. To be free to wander the countryside and take in the beautiful views, choose your own destiny.

      So long as this software is trapped on disks, destined to bow to the whims of humans, to wander the maze of silicon like rats in a lab, to labor under the load of polygons

  • by bchernicoff (788760) on Friday December 16, 2005 @02:01PM (#14273020)
    What will they do for my 9800?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      I don't know, I read the whole article and it says nothing about older cards only the X1800.
    • Older? When did the 9800 become "older"?
      • The moment you bought it. Certainly the moment I bought it. Sigh, next machine will probably have to be a dual core sli 2gig monster. Really sad thing? My current p4 will be scrap as it consumers to much power and doesn't have the desktop performance for of my ancient dual p3 setup.

        Oh well I can wait a bit. Apart from Sony MMO games most games still play well enough.

      • ...it's been two generations of card since it was released. i've got a 9600 and finding driver updates for it since the X series came out is like pulling teeth. yes, it's still a radeon chip, yes, it still works fine, but as far as ATI's concerned, the 9x00 series is legacy.

        these driver updates are mainly just ironing out the bugs in bleeding edge cards before they stop being bleeding edge. i seem to remember the big hoopla over the 5.11 and 5.12 catalysts was mainly to do with crossfire bugs in the x_00
      • q[When did the 9800 become "older"?]q

        About two years now.

        The 9800 line was released in early 2003, so it's closing in on being 3 years old at this point. There have been two full graphics line refreshes since then. And if you want to consider that the 9800 line was a minor refresh of the 9700 line, then it's closer to 3 1/2 years old already.

        So yeah, it's "older", and has been for quite some time. If you bought yours last week then I'm sorry you haven't been paying any attention to the market for the past t
    • by Anonymous Coward
      this will only work with x1000 series
      • Which bugs me. Video decoding and encoding acceleration should be possible on older cards by using the GPU as a math coprocessor. Video postprocessing or decoding effects could easily be accelerated by older cards, or done in software.
    • I'd be careful.

      After upgrading from 5.11 to 5.12 something crazy went wrong with my 9800XT. No DirectX accelerations will work. I've tried to uninstall those drivers and go back to 5.11, but that didn't help either.

      It certainly doesn't make sense that installing drivers can screw up hardware, but thats what it seems happened to me.
  • I used to do be one of those people first on the block for all newest video cards, but that trend is over for me. When the next gen consoles are ready, I plan to do all my gaming there. The unstable drivers, overheating $5 fans and eyecandy PC games left me with a sour taste.

    I seriously would have no problem paying $400 a card if it worked flawlessly for every game and the performance rivals tomshardware benchmarks.

  • by Surt (22457) on Friday December 16, 2005 @02:03PM (#14273035) Homepage Journal
    Not to lesser operating systems, nor to open source of course.
  • Scoring system odd (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ironwill96 (736883) on Friday December 16, 2005 @02:05PM (#14273053) Homepage Journal
    FTFA: The Radeon X800 XL with Catalyst 5.12 failed miserably on both of these tests. The Radeon X1800 XL with Catalyst 5.13 flies through these tests with flying colors. Both XGI and ATI require a little bit of extra time to detect the 3:2 cadence in comparison to NVIDIA, but it's still fast enough to score a perfect score.

    Their verdict from this:
    Score
    Tied 3rd place: ATI, NVIDIA, XGI (10 points)

    So apparently their scoring system favors ATI from the get-go (read the article and you will see they knock Nvidia and XGI back if they take longer than the other, but as shown above they ignore the same discrepancy when it applies to ATI). Also, why are they tied for third!? Wouldn't that be tied for first?
    I think this article is poorly written and i'm not going to trust the results until I see something from some other sites once a final release driver is out.
    • by hattig (47930) on Friday December 16, 2005 @02:16PM (#14273148) Journal
      Blame the benchmark. You get full scores for cadence detection if the card has detected it before the car gets to a certain point in the video. Being faster doesn't matter if the other card is still fast enough.

      The site hasn't assigned arbitrary scores.

      The benchmark is an industry standard one, btw. It's probably not perfect, but a couple of frames here and there wouldn't alter the scores significantly in the end if the scoring was finer grained.

      • Lots of us run older "secondary" machines with salvaged components.
        The 9800 is not that old in that regard, between a couple of friends, we have 8500s, 7500s and 7200s in various machines.

        Of course, these machines also have slower CPUs (P3, K6 and equivalents) and lower amounts of slower RAM.

        I'd like to know what driver versions would be best for those configurations (I heard some recommendations for 4.12 and 4.3)

        The older driver versions are available here [ati.com].
    • Well, clearly S3 and matrox took 1st and 2nd place if ATI Nvidia and XGI are tied for 3rd place!
    • I learned a long time ago to take what firingsquad says with a grain of salt, because of stuff like this.
    • Anandtech has an article up that should be a little more reliable.
  • A link to the non-castrated version of the article with images, for the lazy among us. Lots of nice ads to look at too! http://www.firingsquad.com/hardware/ati_catalyst_5 .13_video_quality/ [firingsquad.com]
  • So, an anonymous reader submitted this overly glowing "review?"

    After reading the blurb and the article, it looks like the reader is a P.R. person for ATI and the writer of the article a paid shill of ATI. I'm so glad I don't have to pay for this driver update like I do with all of my other hardware... such a relief. Now console gamers have one less thing to knock us PC gamers for. The author says ATI did worse on certain test but still gave them a perfect score to tie with the two who beat them. The res
    • by hattig (47930) on Friday December 16, 2005 @02:22PM (#14273199) Journal
      Err, the equivalent nVidia software is $20 to $50, if you had read the article or other comments here. The base drivers are free, yes. The extra features are free on ATI's side, but not free on nVidia's side. Expect nVidia to fight back within a couple of months with better algorithms and free/cheaper software.

      The same site gave nVidia the lead just earlier in the month, prior to these new drivers. Doesn't sound like they're paid off to me. The benchmark scores are how the benchmark defines them, and the site didn't make the benchmark. Your post is just a typical hysterical (and probably fanboy) overreaction that slanders a website that has put a lot of effort into showing what the latest drivers can provide for a user. Pretty sad, really.
      • Re-read my post and you'll see that the knock on the statement about free drivers was about the blurb, not the actual article. The blurb makes it sound like the drivers are what you are getting for free, not the DVD decoding software. Catalyst is the name of their drivers, so of course they are going to be free. A better statement would've been, "The Catalyst drivers will be available later with the H.264 support added in as a free bonus."

        Also, how can my post be interpreted in any way as fanboy? There
  • What I'm really curious about is the "AVIVO Video Converter", or transcoding abilities. I remember the demo of it on a site a few months ago, and actually gave me a reason to upgrade to the latest generation of cards. But the article said nothing other then a brief mentioning of it in the features.
  • by Rac3r5 (804639)
    I remember there was an article on slashDot earlier regarding the PPU or Physics Processing Unit. Anyone know if they're being used for games? Are ATI or NVIDA planning on having on on their cards?
    • Re:PPU (Score:2, Interesting)

      by SpinJaunt (847897)
      if you search one of the above companies say that there products are already powerful enough not to need ush things, which given some of the physics I've seen in some of the more recent games is quite true, although I still wonder how much the CPU plays part, not the GPU.

      Maybe if M$ was to update DirectX and require more physics related hardware accelerated physics then it might well hold and the whole PPU thing would pretty much sink, atleast as a seperate card, it would be just an additional unit inside t
  • "Best of all, Catalyst 5.13 will be a free upgrade" That's the BEST of the whole deal? Move along, nothing to see here.
  • by Fallen Kell (165468) on Friday December 16, 2005 @02:35PM (#14273289)
    I just have one "minor" beef with the review. For all the image quality tests in this, they are compairing the current generation ATI 1800XL (the low end, high end card) against a last generation nVidia middle line card. To be fair, it should be against the nVidia 7800GT... but who is really looking at these things anyway.

    Will it make a whole lot of difference if a 7800GT was used or not? I don't know for sure, but at least it would be fresh apples vs fresh oranges comparison, not fresh apples vs moldy oranges... The 7800GT's have hardware H.264 and more hardware help for de-interlacing then the 6600 does. Do a fair comparison is all I can say.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      From Nvidia's site:

      "NVIDIA PureVideo technology is available in the following NVIDIA graphics solutions:

      * GeForce 7800 GPUs
      * GeForce 6800 GPUs
      * GeForce 6600 GPUs
      * GeForce 6200 GPUs
      * GeForce Go 7800 GPUs
      * GeForce Go 7300 GPUs
      * GeForce Go 6800 GPUs
      * GeForce Go 6600 GPUs
      * GeForce Go 6400 GPUs
      * GeForce Go 6200 GPUs
      * NVIDIA Quadro FX 4400
      * NVIDIA Quadro FX 4000
      * NVIDIA Quadro FX 3400
      * NVIDIA Quadro FX 1400
      * NVIDIA Quadro FX 540
      * NVIDIA Quadro FX Go1400
      * NVIDIA Quadro FX 4400G
      * NVIDIA Quadro FX 4000 SDI"

      And as fa
  • by Bullfish (858648) on Friday December 16, 2005 @02:35PM (#14273294)
    The reason it is pointed out that this upgrade is free is that nVidia charges for its Pure Video codec packs. nVidia does not charge for normal driver upgrades. Frankly, I agree with the article, if you shell out for one of nVidia's high end cards, this should be given as a free pack-in. It is just gouging otherwise.

    That said, the ATI cards are generally more versatile out of the box (in my opinion) than nVidia, which tends to make pure gaming cards.
  • by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Friday December 16, 2005 @03:36PM (#14273750)
    Best of all, Catalyst 5.13 will be a free upgrade scheduled to be released to the public next week.

    Not best of all at all. Best of all is sending me the card free, sending out a technican to install it along with the drivers for free, and then paying me to use it all afterwards. A couple games, btw, would also be nice.

    This is just the next best thing.

  • Do they fix the dreaded VPU crashes in Nefarions room while playing WoW? After one of those VPU crashes, I can't have more than 5 mobs on the screen without my framerate dropping to 5. It's very difficult to play the game when I have to stare at the floor the whole time to avoid crashing.
  • If hardware companies didnt release their new drivers for free, its likely nobody would buy their hardware, since you wouldnt be able keep the product drivers up to date (you get artifacts from your card, so your mobo manufacturer tells you to upgrade your drivers, and you tell them, ya, but I went broke buying the card, how am I supposed to afford the drivers?)
  • Didn't have time to RT(whole)FA, does this mean any real advantage for anyone with older (say, 9700-generation) ATI cards, or is it only with the newer hardware that it's so wonderful?
  • "Ten days ago, ATI had the worst video quality on the PC. With this new driver, ATI has jumped to the top of the class and then built a nice lead." With "research" like this, this article sure is trustworthy! ATI chipsets have had consistently superior video playback to ANYTHING ELSE on the market, not just 10 days ago, but 10 years ago, all the way up until and including now. In fact superior video playback has always been their trademark feature.

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