With the Windows 8 RTM now available through official avenues, AMD has updated its display drivers to offer the first unified Catalyst release for Microsoft's last three operating systems. Radeon users running Windows 8 will benefit from support for DirectX 11.1 and Windows Display Driver Model (WDDM) 1.2 which includes the following (as a reminder, the Radeon HD 4000 series isn't fully supported on Windows 8):

  • Target-Independent Rasterization (TIR): TIR is a new rendering path that enables superior anti-aliasing in Direct3D driver applications.
  • Native Stereo 3D Support: Windows 8 natively supports stereoscopic 3D gaming and videos via compatible applications.
  • Unified Video API: Video playback has been integrated into the DirectX 11 API, enabling simultaneous video and gaming content. Transcoding performance may also be improved for supporting applications.
  • Optimized screen rotation for rotation aware devices.
  • Improved sleep/resume performance.
  • Optimized GPU power consumption.
  • Support for AMD features
    • AMD Eyefinity
    • OpenCL
    • OpenGL
    • UVD
    • AMD Dual Graphics / AMD CrossFire Technology
    • AMD Overdrive
    • AMD Catalyst Control Center / Vision Engine Control Center

Folks upgrading from June's Catalyst 12.6 package can expect a handful of performance improvements, including up to 25% more frames in TES V: Skyrim, 15% in Total War: Shogun 2, 10% in Dirt 3, 8% in Crysis Warhead, 6% in Crysis 2 and Batman: Arkham City, as well as 3-5% in Just Cause 2, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, and Battlefield 3. The update also fixes more bugs can we can cover, so skim the release notes.

Download Catalyst 12.8 WHQL (release notes)
Desktop: Windows XP 32-bit | Windows XP 64-bit | Windows Vista/7/8 32-bit | Windows Vista/7/8 64-bit
Mobile: Windows Vista/7/8 32-bit | Windows Vista/7/8 64-bit

Along with those enhancements, AMD has also responded to the launch of the GeForce GTX 660 Ti with word of a firmware update for the Radeon HD 7950, which is currently in a tight spot between Nvidia's $300 and $400 offerings. Similar to how AMD released the slightly overclocked HD 7970 GHz Edition to address the GTX 680, this week's BIOS update pushes the HD 7950's clock from 800MHz to 850MHz. The update also introduces a "Boost" functionality that can dynamically push the clock to 925MHz.

You can download the new firmware here, but if you're running a card that deviates from AMD's reference design, you'll probably want to hold off until your card maker offers its own version. The company says it can't guarantee that the update will work with third-party boards and you'll void your warranty upon flashing, so proceed at your own risk. For the less experimental types, you can already buy "Boost Edition" HD 7950s with the latest BIOS. For a before and after, check out ExtremeTech's benches: