In a quest to maintain their position as a leader in the
video card market, ATi is constantly looking to
improve the end-user's overall experience. This applies
to their latest hardware releases, as well as new and
improved software developments. As we've
recently seen, ATi has begun to seriously address
some issues that have plagued them in the past. Lately,
we've seen a marked increase in their efforts to improve
driver performance and reliability. It seems
like this year alone they have released updated
drivers at an ever increasing pace, rapidly addressing any
issues that arise with their products. But to really
be a dominant player in an extremely competitive market, ATi
knew they had to come out with something the "other guy"
doesn't offer. The end result of their efforts is the
new Catalyst Software Package. What is a Catalyst?
Well, let's take a look
What is "Catalyst?"
Improving The Overall
Merriam-Webster's Dictionary, by definition, a catalyst is
"an agent that provokes or speeds significant change or
action". ATi's new software package hopes to do just that.
With their new software, ATi is aiming to improve a user's
all-around experience by offering
additional functionality that was previously unavailable. The Catalyst
software is ATi's latest attempt to bolster the abilities
of all Radeon based video cards, bringing new driver
enhancements and updated product software. The ATi
Catalyst software contains four key components that help ATi
achieve this goal: the latest drivers, improved versions
of HydraVision and Multimedia Center, and expanded functionality of the ATi Remote Wonder.
highlighted some of the key features the Catalyst software has
- ATI's proprietary diagnostic tool to determine the most
stable AGP setting (for problematic systems), making the
most stable drivers in the industry even more stable.
Direct3D and OpenGL control panels for all RADEON
Give users more
control over a variety of performance and image quality
version 3.1 - Offers a variety of new features, including a
new installation wizard to help users get their
multi-monitor setup working as quickly as possible.
for RADEON 8500/ ALL-IN-WONDER RADEON 8500DV to drive HDTV
CENTER (MMC) 7.7 - Offers new skin option "Tranquility",
DVD Chapter Preview feature, and support for SVCD compliant
1.2.-- Provides users with a Pre-Defined plug in for
WINAMP and MICROSOFT@ POWERPOINT (plus many more to come in
SmartGart is a
diagnostic tool that aims to take the headache out of
troublesome configurations. We've all been through it
at some time or another. You just installed a new
piece of hardware, like a Radeon 8500 All-In-Wonder for
example, and the system becomes unstable, experiencing
random lockups or the dreaded Blue Screen of Death. This can
be caused by a wide variety of conditions, from incorrect
driver installation, BIOS configuration or, ATi suggests, inconsistencies in the system bus.
What ATi has done to combat these issues is incorporate the SmartGart Diagnostic
tool into the driver installation process. The
SmartGart Diagnostic tool has been coded to analyze the system bus
anytime there is a change made to the drivers. Once
the optimal AGP setting has been determined, SmartGart configures
the system automatically. This
is all done behind the scenes, helping to insure that the
system performance is both optimal and stable. Not
only will this aid the user by intercepting and correcting
problems before they even know they have any, if it does
it's job well, ATi should save a few dollars in the
Technical Support arena.
Multimedia Center Version 7.7:
Multimedia Center Software, which accompanies all of their
All-In-Wonder products, has a fresh new look. For starters, MMC 7.7 now offers a new skin called "tranquility." If
there is one thing that I think all of us using ATi cards
would like is a little more variety in the software's
appearance. Let's face it, this is the day and age of
"skinning software" and people love to play with
the way their software looks. Previously, the skin could be toggled between
two choices, Classic and Modern, and these changes would
affect then entire Multimedia Center Package. In this
instance, however, the Tranquility skin strictly applies to
the TV, DVD Player and Stills Gallery, leaving the remaining
new look is not the only change that the Multimedia Center
has undergone. ATi has added the much needed ability
for direct SVCD capture compatibility. Adjustments have also been made to improve the MPEG-2 encode
quality and, from what we've seen,
the quality is quite good. To top it all off,
the updated software has not only improved the Audio capture quality,
increasing it to 48kHz., they've implemented changes that
improve the stability of
the Multimedia Center Software.
the ATi DVD player has been tweaked a bit, adding a more
functional Chapter Preview feature and Subtitle Support.
With the Chapter Preview feature, if you are watching a DVD
and wish to bookmark a section in the movie, the software can preview the first 10 seconds of
a chapter to help you remember where you were
in the movie.
Remote Wonder 1.2, HydraVision 3.1 and The Drivers