Legacy Catalyst driver problems with OpenGL, AMD replies

Right, I’ve told you about the issues with the AMD legacy driver. I also reported the issue to AMD technical support. I’m surprised they replied at all, but let’s go through their reply step-by-step, as it’s quite a good one:

Thank you for Contacting AMD

I understand that your legacy drivers for windows 7 not working properly.

If I missed any information about your issue please let me know, as my suggestions may change.

(Emphasis mine). Okay, so they understand that it’s about the legacy drivers, not the regular Catalyst drivers (which should be obvious, as I had to specifically select the Radeon X1900XTX 512 MB PCI-e card when filling out the form).

Your issue is probably caused by improper driver installation or missing / corrupt files or by trying to install the wrong driver.

The following suggestions might help you resolve your issue

1. Uninstall all ATI drivers and any other video card software from the Add or Remove Programs and Features in Microsoft, Control Panel

Okay, so far so good. The uninstaller apparently does not work properly, but hey.

2. Try using a driver cleaner program to make sure the drivers are removed: Please keep in mind that the (Driver Cleaner / Driver Sweeper are 3rd party software and not supported by AMD) please refer to their websites for instruction and guidance.

a. Driver Cleaner Professional


b. Driver Sweeper: http://downloads.guru3d.com/download.php?det=1655

Right, so because your uninstaller does not work properly, I have to resort to unsupported, unofficial third-party solutions?

3.     Disable any running background software such as firewalls and antivirus.

Uhh, really now? Firstly, how is that going to help? And secondly, why are you putting your customer’s systems at risk like that? Especially since you don’t mention anywhere in the list that firewalls and antivirus should be re-enabled after a successful installation.

4. Make sure your operating System has the latest Service Packs and patches / updates.

5. Make sure your motherboard has the latest BIOS and CHIPSET (you can get these updates directly from the manufacturer of the motherboard or Computer)

I guess we can give them those, quite the standard procedure.

6.     Make sure your power Supply is adequate

This one is again bordering on the ridiculous. If the power supply is inadequate, chances are you will be having much bigger problems than just getting a display driver installed.

7.     Since you have a Windows then install this driver:  http://support.amd.com/us/kbarticles/Pages/catalyst122precertifieddriver.aspx

Uhhhh… Didn’t we establish above that I have a Radeon X1900XTX, and need to install the legacy driver? This driver does not support my video card.

Well, the rest is just more standard procedure I suppose, I’ll just quote them for completeness:

8. If the problem still exists please try your video card in another PC or try another video card in your PC if possible.

9. Or test your hardware like RAM, CPU , USB devices…etc (make sure they do not create the problem

10. If the problem still exists please download the Belarc Advisor – a free system diagnostics, system information and benchmarking to create a problem report as described: In HTML format and attach file to e-mail. http://www.belarc.com/free_download.html

11. 64-Bit: http://sites.amd.com/us/game/downloads/Pages/radeon_win7-64.aspx

12. If you are looking for a specific driver, a list of previous drivers can be found here:

64-Bit: http://support.amd.com/us/gpudownload/windows/previous/Pages/radeonaiw_vista64.aspx

Except for point 11/12, where they once again redirect me to drivers that don’t support my videocard in the first place! I can only use the LEGACY DRIVERS, people! You invented that whole schizophrenic driver system, now deal with it!

I shall reply, and point out that they’re redirecting me to the wrong drivers, and also pose the question how I am ever going to get an older Radeon and a newer Radeon in the same system to both work with OpenGL with their broken driver design. The irony is that one of our development machines has two Radeon 4850 cards, and a third GeForce 7600GT card (only a single-slot card would fit in the third PCI-e slot of the machine, and the 7600GT was the only single-slot card we had at hand). And that setup actually DOES work. So you get better compatibility with Radeons and GeForces mixed than you do with a Radeon-only system? Just genius… Might also explain why we couldn’t get the video input working on the Radeon X1900 when we had multiple cards in the system. It probably has similar driver snafu’s.

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10 Responses to Legacy Catalyst driver problems with OpenGL, AMD replies

  1. Robert says:

    It has always seemed to me that AMD/ATI have the better hardware but really, really bad drivers, and that nVidia have somewhat lesser hardware but on other hand very good drivers. I don’t know how Intel’s drivers compare here.

    The one complaint I have with the nVidia drivers is that the package is over 100M in size. Why can’t they offer an optional download of just the drivers and configuration panel, without the 100M of tweaked shaders for the AAA games?

    • Scali says:

      Well, nVidia isn’t alone in that. The latest Catalysts for Windows 7 x64 are 145 MB as well.
      And nVidia also offers PhysX and Cuda inside their driver package.

      Intel used to be quite poor, but these days I must say I haven’t had a lot of issues with the drivers, at least, not during my own development (with both OpenGL and D3D9/10/11).
      As long as you stay within the limits of the driver (eg, OpenGL support is quite sparse, don’t assume that all of the latest features are available), the code will generally work without a problem.
      I think the biggest problem is that most developers don’t bother to test on Intel hardware, let alone that they fix small issues or make workarounds to make their code work on Intel. I’ve found a number of issues when running my code on Intel hardware, where the Intel driver turned out to be right. And it was not that difficult to fix the issues.

      ID Software is even worse, they don’t seem to test on anything. Rage was a total joke. On release, it worked on nVidia hardware, but the texturing was botched. On AMD it just crashed. AMD then released a hotfix, which still crashed… then a hotfix that didn’t crash, but had < 1 fps performance… and finally there was a hotfix where the game was playable. Then Rage was patched as well, for the texturing issue and some other bugs.
      I don't understand how they managed to release that game at all… Apparently they don't do any QA whatsoever?

      And since Rage is written so poorly, it will not work on Intel hardware at all. They force OpenGL 3.2 as minimum, which means it won't work on Intel drivers, because they only support 3.1 or lower. However, the game could work fine with lower versions of OpenGL and a few extensions. If they had put in some effort, the game would be far more compatible.
      Or, they could have just used Direct3D, like everyone else. Then you don't have such driver version problems.

  2. k1net1cs says:

    And may I add that the Driver Sweeper being mentioned (2.1.0) isn’t even the latest version (3.2.0), which will delete the default ATi driver files that came with Windows.
    That deletion caused a problem when people were trying to update Windows 7 with Service Pack 1, since those deleted default driver files are considered system files.

    And I agree with Robert there about AMD’s driver support.
    Anything after Catalyst 11.12 WHQL makes my Mobility 5650 unable to display any videos whatsoever, DXVA or not; not even Flash videos.
    I’ve even tested it with a fresh Windows 7 SP1 installation, and still the same problem.

    • Scali says:

      Not on mine! (I have an X3100 IGP, which is DX10 class… Rage is only DX9-class, so it should work, right?)
      And apparently even on Sandy Bridge you need a very recent driver, else you get errors such as “GL_ARB_draw_elements_base_vert­ex not available”
      Which is my point: Rage assumes things that are not commonly supported by older hardware or hardware with less full-featured drivers than nVidia/AMD.
      Heck, Doom3 does not even run on my Intel IGP. How poorly coded is that?

  3. doped says:

    well, opengl is a mess, always have been, both nvidia and ati have completely abandoned support for older opengl games, but ati is by far the worst. New opengl games work fine though with newer drivers. I understand carmac wanting to support opengl, but for games, it just doesnt make sense since nvidia, ati and intel just dont care at all.

    • k1net1cs says:

      Which older OpenGL games?
      I’m guessing it’s not the driver, but rather you’re trying to play them on a too modern OS.
      Well, ‘too new’ is more appropriate, I guess…’too modern’ is funnily either being too subjective or too technical.

      Then again, if nVidia et al. really doesn’t care about OpenGL anymore, why would they still even bother supporting OpenGL up to 4.4?
      You just said it yourself the drivers work fine with newer OpenGL games, just not the older ones, in which I’m guessing you’re trying to play them on Win7 or Win8/8.1.
      Even on Win7 older DX games are pretty much hit & miss.

      • Scali says:

        It could be the driver… or well, that depends on how you look at it. That is, often OpenGL extensions start out as vendor-specific ones, which are later promoted to EXT/ARB/core functionality. Some of these older vendor-specific extensions are removed over time, because they are no longer relevant.

        Some software will depend on these extensions, and won’t have a proper workaround when the extension is not available… so the software just crashes. Which technically is not the driver’s fault of course. Extensions should be optional. But yes, it does get solved by using a driver that does support the extension.

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