The new 3D preview
AMD's ATI Catalyst Windows Vista driver is finally out of beta on the eve of the Windows Vista launch

AMD today released the final version of its Windows Vista compatible ATI Catalyst driver package, on the eve of Windows Vista’s launch. The latest ATI Catalyst 7.1 for Windows Vista is compatible with Vista 32-bit and 64-bit releases and passed WHQL testing on RTM versions of Vista.

As with previous ATI Catalyst beta releases, ATI Catalyst 7.1 only supports ATI Radeon 9500 series or higher graphics cards on the desktop and mobile-front. AMD ATI All-in-Wonder cards are only supported as a display device, VIVO features are unsupported on All-in-Wonder and VIVO capable cards at the time. ATI Theater 550 Pro based products are also supported, though the release notes make no mention of Theater 650-based products.

AMD ATI CrossFire Xpress 1600, Xpress 200, Radeon Xpress 1100 and Radeon Xpress 200M are supported by Catalyst 7.1. Strangely, there is no mention of support for AMD ATI CrossFire Xpress 3200/AMD 580X or CrossFire Xpress 3200/RD600.

Product support aside, the new ATI Catalyst 7.1 for Windows Vista introduces support for Blu-ray and HD DVD playback, CrossFire, native OpenGL and a new Catalyst Control Center. Blu-ray and HD DVD playback is only available on Windows Vista 32-bit releases, though support for Vista 64-bit will be available in a future ATI Catalyst release. As with DVD playback, a third-party application is required to view Blu-ray and HD DVD disks.

Users with two ATI Radeon-based graphics cards are finally able to take advantage of CrossFire under Windows Vista. The latest Catalyst 7.1 allows CrossFire support in Direct3D games for significant performance gains. CrossFire under Windows Vista does not support OpenGL now and promised in a future ATI Catalyst release.

Lastly is the new Catalyst Control Center for Windows Vista. AMD promises the new Catalyst Control Center uses less system resources while starting up substantially faster with quicker responsiveness. There is a new 3D preview and native support for Windows Vista too.

As with all ATI Catalyst releases, there are plenty of resolved issues and known issues. Nevertheless, users can grab the latest ATI Catalyst for Windows Vista 32-bit and 64-bit releases.

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