In accordance with their new ‘whenever it makes sense’ graphics driver update cycle, AMD has released the 12.9 beta driver today. Back in June AMD announced that it was going to quit releasing monthly driver updates, in order to provide higher quality updates. It’s been three months since that rather disappointing day, when years of constant monthly updates finally came to an end. But AMD has made good on its promise of increased driver release quality by actively working on some of the more obvious problems, like switchable graphics support, which is a trouble spot that has been plaguing them for years now.
Additionally, AMD seems to be improving its Linux driver support to some degree. This beta is now compatible with Ubuntu 12.10 and Red Hat 6.3. Granted AMD’s Linux drivers are still pretty crummy, some progress is better than none.
We had a chance to play with these new drivers for a little bit before we published this article and noticed a few interesting things. The display driver version has finally moved from 8.xxx to 9.001 with this release. AMD has also made some minor changes to the Catalyst user interface in order to cater to mobile users that are taking advantage of AMD’s Enduro technology. These changes include application profiles based on the active power source and other enhancements.
We installed these new drivers on three different platforms this afternoon. Our HD 6850 based system showed basically no difference between these drivers and the prior version. Our A10-4600 laptop also seemed just about the same. Notably, the CPU load that 1080P video playback put on our A4-3300M based Ubuntu 12.04.1 laptop dropped significantly, and the system no longer drops frames constantly.
Overall this beta driver from AMD is really focused on its Enduro technology, but that’s not to say that it doesn’t address some pesky bugs. For more on the subject you can read AMD’s release notes.S|A