AMD Catalyst

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AMD Catalyst
AMD Catalyst Logo.jpg
AMD VISION Engine Control Center.png
AMD Catalyst Control Center running on Windows 8
Original author(s) ATI Technologies
Developer(s) AMD Graphics Product Group
Initial release June 13, 2002; 11 years ago (2002-06-13) (v. 2.1)
Stable release 13.12 / December 18, 2013; 4 months ago (2013-12-18)
Preview release 14.4 Beta / April 21, 2014; 2 days ago (2014-04-21)
Operating system Microsoft Windows
Platform IA-32 and x64
.NET Framework
Size 51.75 MB ~ 93.93 MB
Type Device driver and system monitor
License Proprietary / Freeware
Website AMD Catalyst

AMD Catalyst (formerly named ATI Catalyst) is a device driver and utility software package for ATI line of video cards. It runs on Microsoft Windows and Linux, on 32- and 64-bit x86 processors.


Catalyst was instituted on 13 June 2002[1] with version 02.1 after the release of the Radeon 8500, as "a software suite that includes unified driver and software applications to enable [ATI's] Radeon family of graphics products" for Windows XP, Windows 2000 and Windows Me, with support for Windows 98 via the Windows Me driver. The first number in a release version denotes the year, the second the release within that year, starting at x.1 for all years other than 2003 when there was a 3.0 release. In June 2012, AMD announced that they would stop monthly drivers updates and release new drivers "when it makes sense".[2]

The original Catalyst consisted of these elements:

  1. A new, unified driver for ATI Radeon graphics cards
  2. Hydravision, ATI's proprietary desktop management software
  3. An ATI "Multimedia Center"
  4. ATI's Remote Wonder software
  5. A new AGP diagnostic and stability tool
  6. A newly redesigned control panel

Key features promised by ATI include frequent driver updates with performance enhancements, bug fixes, and new features.

Windows support From version To version Notes
Windows 9x 4.4 There were some later releases for these operating systems, including and up to a Windows Me build of Catalyst 6.2 released on Feb 9, 2006.[3]
Windows 2000 6.5[4]
Windows XP [5] Driver updates and support stopped at ATI Catalyst 10.2 for video cards with support up to DirectX 9.0c.[citation needed]
Windows XP x64 13.9 [6]
Windows Vista 7.2 Driver updates and support stopped at ATI Catalyst 13.1 for video cards with support up to DirectX 10.[citation needed]
Windows 7 9.3
Windows 8 12.8[7] Renamed AMD Catalyst with the merger of ATI and AMD.

Starting with version 4.9 released on 4 September 2004, the Catalyst driver package included the ATI Catalyst Control Center,[8] a new software application for manipulating many of the hardware's functions, such as 3D settings, monitor controls and video options. It shows a small 3D preview and allows the user to see how changes to the graphics settings affects the quality of the rendered image. It also shows information about the card itself and the software data. This application requires Microsoft .NET Framework.


Mantle (API)


Mesa 3D is an alternative to the AMD Catalyst. Since regulating access to the hardware is a fundamental kernel task, there are additional components inside the Linux kernel: the DRM and the KMS.

fglrx is the name of the proprietary Linux display driver used for ATI Radeon and ATI FireGL family of video adapters and stands for "FireGL and Radeon for X". It contains both free and open-source and proprietary parts. Starting from Catalyst 7.11, the ATI Proprietary Linux driver was renamed ATI Catalyst Linux, and was moved to the same release dates and version numbering as the versions for Microsoft Windows.[9]

In the first years of its development, the proprietary Linux driver fglrx had been criticized for its stability and performance issues as well as lack of options. AMD improved the driver in the following periods by including key features such as CrossFire, OverDrive, Catalyst AI, Stream Computing, new anti-aliasing functions, MultiView, SurroundView, etc. But the major breakthrough for fglrx was the strategic decision that AMD took in 2008, to increase the significance of Linux support: From then on all new GPUs in future are to be shipped with Linux driver support right from the first day of their release, instead of having to face a delay of several months as it used to be until then.[10] In the following years the state of the driver had continuously further improved over time, with AMD working in concert with application developers, and most instances of the drivers were considered to be solid enough for most tasks and functional for most users.[11] Additionally AMD has engaged to actively support the development of an open source driver ("gallium" and "radeon"), so that the overall Linux support of AMD has outperformed that of NVIDIA, inverting the former situation as it used to be some years ago.[12]

Soon after its release as free and open-source software, VOGL, a cross-platform OpenGL debugger, received support for the AMD Catalyst Linux driver.[13]


In the future libGL-fglrx-glx could use the libDRM of the radeon open-source driver instead of the proprietary binary blob.

On the GDC 2014 AMD was publicly exploring the strategy of rebasing the user space components of the AMD Catalyst Linux driver from the current proprietary Linux kernel blob to the libDRM of the free and open-source radeon driver.[14]

AMD is quoted to still look at the feasibility of supporting their Mantle rendering API in the Catalyst driver for Linux.[15]


Logo of the Catalyst software package

HydraVision is a desktop/screen management software mostly providing multi-monitor and virtual-screen management. Besides screen management, it includes hardware-accelerated eyefinity and has extensive hot-key support.[16]

HydraVision was originally developed in late 90s by Appian Graphics[17] for their multi-head display solutions. ATI acquired HydraVision in July 2001 along with Appian's HydraVision team to join its then-new dual-head Radeon 7500 and 8500 series.

As of January 2012 it became an optional component of the Catalyst software suite.[18]


On Windows Platforms[edit]

  • Quantity of rendered ahead frames cannot be adjusted
  • Triple buffering in D3D cannot be forced
  • V-sync in many games under Windows 7 cannot be forced disabled
  • Sometimes installables complain about registers being in use by Catalyst Control Center and AMD Fuel Service, and asks to shut them before proceeding. Users are in doubt whether "End Task" on them will cause display to stop working. In Control Panel installed system programs do not have a field to indicate (for any program) whether system will be unusable without it.

On GNU/Linux Platforms[edit]

  • The DDX (driver dependent X driver) for the X.Org Server supplied by Catalyst,, does not work with the most recent version of the X.Org Server until several months after it is released.[citation needed]
  • No support for 3D HDTVs.

Supported products[edit]

Different platforms may not have an equal level of support.

See also[edit]

ATI video adapters
Related technologies
Related topics


External links[edit]