AMD is preparing new software updates for their latest generation of APUs and GPUs in January beginning with the Catalyst 13.35 BETA Driver which is scheduled for launch at the end of January. The Catalyst 13.35 BETA will add support for HSA and Mantle and the drivers would get even better in late Q1 2014 with the arrival of AMD's recently revealed Catalyst 14.1 BETA.
AMD Catalyst 13.35 BETA Driver With Mantle and HSA Support Scheduled For End of January
The Catalyst 13.35 Driver will feature support for various new technologies which include proper support for the Kaveri APUs by fully unleashing support of the Mantle API, Dual Graphics Frame Pacing, HSA feature and AMD's TrueAudio technology. In addition to that, the new Catalyst will also come with a new UI and an auto-update feature which will notify users of the latest WHQL certified and BETA drivers so that their PCs don't remain out-dated. Another important tool will automatically detect the device ID and provide users with correct drivers and profile packages making sure you don't use a mobility driver for your desktop graphics card.
The new driver aims to further enhance frame rendered across multiple graphic cards in CrossFireX or Dual graphics configuration to be displaye at an even and regular pace. The frame pacing solution would also be expanded over to the Kaveri APUs with a new Kaveri beta support driver available by the end of January followed by a WHQL version month later. This is great news considering those who are getting Kaveri APU at launch three days from now won’t have to wait too long for a new Catalyst driver to enhance their gaming experience whether their running the APU in standalone mode with the onboard Radeon R7 series graphics or in dual-graphics configuration.
Drivers for Kaveri is still immature at this state and the following performance graph from AMD shows off the difference the Catalyst 13.35 driver makes in Tomb Raider. Mantle API would further leverage performance for these APUs and a setup of AMD's A10-7850K and Radeon R9 290X will deliver upto 45% improvement over the DirectX API. You can check out the frame pacing feature performance chart below, notice that the performance is beging compared against an OlandXT (with old drivers) versus an OlandXT with new drivers (OlandXT is the chip fused inside AMD's R7 250 graphics card and is one of only two cards which offer dual graphics compatibility with the Kaveri APUs):
AMD Kaveri Features HSA Co-Processing With Discrete GPUs
While AMD doesn't offer dual graphics option to Kaveri with high-end graphics cards, it does offer some new HSA features with the Radeon R9 290X graphics card. AMD did a demonstration behind doors demonstrating the Co-Processing nature of the Kaveri APU. What basically happens is that the Radeon R9 290X will render the graphics while the A10-7850K would handle the physics calculations utilizing HSA as a Co-Processor. This is similar to the NVIDIA PhysX technology where you can set a second GPU as a PhysX Co-Processor. AMD has also boarded this train and seems to be going in the right direction. Although we don't know what upcoming games will feature HSA support but does which do can see an increase in performance due to offloading of physics processing from the discrete GPUs over to the 12 Compute Units inside the A10-7850K.
AMD is also bringing a new JPEG decoder which utilizes the power of the compute cores to decode pictures faster and new video features such as detail enhancement, contour removal and fluid motion video which delivers fluid and smooth video playback. The Catalyst 13.35 BETA driver arrives in late January and would be followed by a WHQL version later next month.