At the tail-end of 2014 AMD launched their Catalyst 14.12 driver set, better known as the Omega driver set. With Omega, AMD shifted their development process for the Catalyst driver set, focusing on delivering feature updates in fewer, larger updates while interim driver releases would focus on bug fixes, performance improvements, and adding new cards. The Omega release in turn was the first of these major releases, delivering a number of new features for Catalyst such as Virtual Super Resolution, preliminary support for FreeSync, and of course a number of performance improvements.

When briefing the press on Omega, one of AMD’s points was that if it was successful they were intending to make it a yearly release – in essence putting major feature updates on a yearly cadence – and after the reaction to Omega AMD has gone ahead and done just that. So launching today and serving as the cornerstone of AMD’s video driver plans for 2016 is this year’s major update, Radeon Software Crimson Edition. (Download)

Meet Radeon Software Crimson Edition 15.11

AMD and the Radeon Technologies Group first announced their plans for Radeon Software Crimson Edition back at the start of the month, in a preview/teaser of what they were working on. AMD’s initial preview focused on the UI aspects of Crimson, namely the new control panel application, Radeon Settings. And while AMD’s preview actually covered Radeon Settings in a fair bit of depth, like all good previews AMD kept everything going on under the hood for Crimson equally under wraps. As a result we have quite a bit to discuss today, with Crimson rolling out with a number of bug fixes and feature additions on top of the control panel overhaul AMD originally announced.

But before diving into matters, let’s talk about AMD’s announced release schedule for Crimson going forward. Like Omega before it, Crimson is an annual release and a cornerstone for AMD’s driver plans for the next year. Along with renaming their driver stack from Catalyst to simply Radeon Software, the Crimson branding will be sticking with this release cycle. Come late 2016, for their next major feature update the Crimson branding will be replaced with another red-themed name.

Meanwhile one point of criticism towards AMD in 2015 has been the limited number of WHQL certified driver releases for the year. AMD had plenty of beta releases over the year – averaging once a month despite the fact that the company stopped adhering to a fixed monthly release schedule in 2012 – however they only released 3 WHQL certified releases. WHQL certification is in and of itself a thorny issue – it is an additional layer of quality assurance, which is good, but it doesn’t cover game-specific bugs, which are the bulk of the bugs most gamers are going to run into – so while it’s useful it alone won’t make a driver good or bad. None the less AMD will be addressing the lack of WHQL certified releases for 2016.

AMD’s plans call for up to 6 driver releases to be WHQL certified next year, with additional beta releases as necessary as AMD already does today. Frankly the “up to” designation leaves AMD quite a bit of wiggle room in case they fall short, so it’s not a very solid promise. But on the other hand it’s legitimately difficult to plan for a specific number of WHQL releases a year in advance – one can’t predict bugs – so AMD does need some wiggle room in case they can’t meet that schedule. That said, if AMD wants to seriously address the complaints about the lack of WHQL releases in 2015 and retain their integrity, then they need to deliver on those 6 releases for 2016.

Speaking of quality assurance, AMD tells us that they have once again increased their QA testing, and stability is a top focus for 2016. With the Omega driver AMD ramped up both their automated and human testing to cover more test cases and system configurations, and for Crimson AMD has done this again.

As drivers approach (and in some cases exceed) the complexity of an operating system, comprehensive driver QA becomes increasingly invaluable, and Windows 10’s aggressive driver update mechanism will bring driver quality to the forefront. So although AMD has never not focused on driver quality and stability, there is always room for improvement. And particularly in AMD’s case, some of the Catalyst releases have shipped with some major issues despite AMD’s QA process improvements for Omega – the web browser memory leak comes to mind – so AMD definitely needs to improve their processes to prevent future issues.

As for Crimson in particular, AMD notes that they have knocked out a large number of bugs. AMD also notes that a number of these bugs came in and/or were prioritized via user feedback, so they’re asking that we remind everyone that AMD has a bug reporting form and that they’re encouraging anyone experiencing a driver bug to use it.

Under The Hood: DirectX 9, Shader Caching, Liquid VR, and Power Consumption
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  • LeoKesler - Tuesday, November 24, 2015 - link

    New interface, same bugs. The players of Elite Dangerous still have the same AMD bug for months and AMD dont fix it.

    56 pages of angry players:
    https://forums.frontier.co.uk/showthread.php?t=170...
    Reply
  • looncraz - Tuesday, November 24, 2015 - link

    There are forums like that for nVidia bugs as well. Reply
  • K_Space - Friday, November 27, 2015 - link

    That shouldn't be an excuse for AMD as two wrongs don't make a right. But they're not making excuses: they made it clear they have bug reporting forum (that would not be the above link), and as HardStyleFlavor suggested, its best if players submit a ticket there. My understanding the interim solution is to install Win 8.1 drivers as these seem to resolve the encountered issue -for now-. Reply
  • lordken - Tuesday, November 24, 2015 - link

    personally I don't like new UI but it is matter of taste and I think most ppl like it, so don't care much. Most important that they work up on driver itself.

    However it is a bit shame they didn't manage to fix overclocking bug (at least on HD7950) while having GPU accelerated video playback. Reported in 15.9 and now again, hopefully they fix it.
    I wonder if it is only 7900/7950 related issue (or my card) or general one but didn't find anyone else on google so could be quite rare bug...
    If you are bored can you test it and reply me with your gpu if bug occurs?
    1. OC your gpu beyond default clock , run gpu-z (to monitor gpu clock)
    2. have some gpu accelerated video to play (ie youtube clip in your browser, with gpu accelration)
    3. run any game to tax your gpu and check clocks in gpuz to see if they go over default clock or not
    In my case it never goes over default clock even if gpu load is 100% , when video playback app is not running clocks goes up as expected.
    Reply
  • hat1324 - Wednesday, November 25, 2015 - link

    This is an issue with all Tahitis as far as I know. My R9 280X does this as well, something to do with the card forcing low VRAM clocks when UVD is enabled.

    The work-around is to run at 60Hz single monitor, turn off powerplay and ULPS, or don't overclock memory

    However, with Crimson we can finally set application OC profiles, so that's the way to go about things now
    Reply
  • Glenn37216 - Tuesday, November 24, 2015 - link

    Finally , we get decent drivers in Crossfire for Dx 9 titles. Took long enough. But as an AMD USER and Nvidia user , I know for a fact AMD is still far behind Nvidia in the gpu game. Nvidia Games with Physx , Gamework Enhancements are far surpassed what AMD has to offer. AMD needs and ANSWER to these techs to stay on par with Nvidia. After playing games like Warframe , Mafia 2 , Batman AK with physx , I made a harsh decision to sell off my 10 or so AMD cards and stay strictly with Nvidia. If I wanted to dumb down my graphics.... .. I'd stick to console gaming .

    http://www.3dmark.com/compare/fs/6431022/fs/346680...
    Reply
  • Dalamar6 - Thursday, November 26, 2015 - link

    As much as I like to rag on AMD for being a joke, physx is just another proprietary gimmick, and actually hurts the general consumers.

    Remember kids, proprietary/exclusive is bad.
    Standards, Linux and open source good.
    Reply
  • Dalamar6 - Thursday, November 26, 2015 - link

    **unlike nvidia, AMD has actually contributed something meaningful and standards based in the form of Vulkan, though it's not like it'll matter when all the stupid devs keep using garbage like DX/Windows. -_-

    If physx was not proprietary, and standards based, then we can talk...:rolleyes:
    Reply
  • Fanatical Meat - Tuesday, November 24, 2015 - link

    They're still packaging that gaming evolved app crapware in the driver package. remember to check what is being installed. Reply
  • Oxford Guy - Thursday, November 26, 2015 - link

    failworks? Reply

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