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ATI and Folding working on F@H 1.2.1: Performance, stability updates

Catalyst 8.12 drivers are set to debut next week, and as you probably know, this is no ordinary update. AMD GPG is bringing its STREAM middleware platform and updated libraries to every user of their GPGPU-enabled products (R520 “Fudo” chip aka Radeon 1800 and newer).

As a part of AMD STREAM, ATI will release its own video transcoder for free. Given the limitations and performance that Badaboom has, I wonder did ATI decided to do something more in “formats supported” area. 😉

On the Folding@Home front, there are great expectations from this upcoming driver, especially if you own Radeon 4800 series product. ATI worked hard to remove the driver overhead which keeps the CPU core to 100% per GPU, and as a result, folding smaller proteins should improve by some 20%.

Looking at a bigger picture, ATI’s GPGPU engineers are working night and day on the upcoming OpenCL platform, so the future of CAL and other proprietary standards is up in the air. It is obvious that any pre-4800 hardware suffers from serious drawbacks in the architecture, but 4000 and beyond has the potential to “rock on” in the GPGPU world. Radeon 4000 series finally brought several key features that Nvidia featured from GeForce 8 and beyond, so we are going to have a heated GPGPU battle in 2009.

One thing is certain, though. As soon as Catalyst 8.12 appear (according to our sources, look for Terry “Saint Catalyst Claus” Makedon coming down the chimney around December 10th), go to game.amd.com and download the drivers. There is a myriad of improvements, and you should check out Catalyst 8.12 driver with updated Folding@Home core, currently in version 1.2.1.

You can try the 1.2.1 client right now, but expect a final version showing up around the release of Catalyst 8.12. December is going to be an exciting month for ATI’s F@H community.