ATI CrossFireX Application Profile 10.8a Performance

CrossFireX gets a performance boost in two games thanks to a new CrossFireX Application Profile update. Performance in Aliens vs. Predators and Battlefield Bad Company 2 has been greatly improved, finally. CFX users will want to make sure to check this out. We will have the new CAP file hosted here locally for our readers.


In our recent SLI and CFX testing lately we have been disappointed in CrossFireX performance scaling, particular in two games that we felt should be exhibiting better performance scaling. This all started back when we did our round of GTX 460 SLI testing and discovered the GTX 460 SLI configuration blowing away even 5850 and 5870 CrossFireX ATI GPU video card configurations. Since then, we have been working with AMD to get to the bottom of performance issues with CrossFireX with the previous Catalyst drivers and CrossFireX Application Profile (CAP) software.

Catalyst 10.8 was released yesterday, and with it, a new CAP version as well. We tested the driver and CAP and found the same performance as we had been experiencing previously, there was no change.

AMD provided us with a new CrossFireX Application Profile today that its claims fixes and improves scaling with CrossFireX performance, particular in two titles, Aliens vs. Predator and Battlefield: Bad Company 2.

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This new CrossFireX Application Profile is labeled "10.8a" and will be available to the public very soon. Our results below speak for themselves.

The system setup is as follows: MSI X58 Eclipse (two x16 PCIe slots native), Intel Core i7 920 @ 3.6GHz, 6GB DDR3, Dell 3007WFP, Win7 x64. We are using Catalyst 10.7a and 10.7 CAP versus Cat 10.8 and 10.8a CAP.

ATI Radeon HD 5870 2GB CrossFireX

Aliens vs. Predator

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In Aliens vs. Predator at 2560x1600 with 4X AA the performance difference is night and day. In our previous testing with Cat 10.7a and even Catalyst 10.8 and 10.8 CAP, our performance hovered right around 32 FPS average in this game. However, with the brand new 10.8a CAP that AMD will be releasing publically, our performance has dramatically improved. We are seeing a 70% improvement in pure performance, this is incredible.

Not all is roses though as there does appear to be an image quality bug related to Motion Blur with this new CAP. We noticed that motion blur is very exaggerated with the new CAP installed, as we moved around the game there was extreme blurring and quite frankly this will be a distraction for gamers. So while performance is phenomenal now, it does appear a bug has been introduced and we know AMD will look into the issue and get that fixed as soon as possible. Turning Motion Blur off "fixes" the problem though. We are going to continue to evaluate AvP and report any issues we find to AMD.

Battlefield: Bad Company 2

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In Battlefield: Bad Company 2 at 2560x1600 with 4X AA we are also seeing a very noticeable improvement in performance. The difference isn’t as big as AvP, but it is certainly noticeable in-game. Here we are seeing a 44% improvement in performance in the average framerate. This is big news to BC2 players using CFX! Gamers have felt shafted by CrossFireX performance in BC2 for some time. It seems whatever was holding it back has been fixed in this new 10.8a CAP.

Of course we asked for a statement from AMD about this issue and why it has gone unattended for so long. This was what Terry Makedon had to say:

"In our internal benchmarking we did not see CrossFireX scaling issues. With HardOCP’s initial articles on the topic of scaling we were alerted that something was not right. We immediately engaged with Brent and asked for information to be able to reproduce his results. It took some time for us to reproduce them and once that happened we had to give it to our performance tuning engineers to investigate. We truly did put the highest possible priority on it as we did want to ensure everyone had the best performance possible. What we did to resolve the scaling issue in the end was to tweak the driver to use the available CPU cores more efficiently (we were hitting a CPU limitation on that particular map you guys used)."

It will be very interesting to see what kind of overall feedback we get from BC2 players.

The Bottom Line

The issues holding back performance in these two titles has now been fixed thanks to the new CrossFireX Application Profile. This is what the CAP system was intended for; to provide performance and compatibility updates to CrossFireX without having to wait between driver versions. Unfortunately, it hasn’t quite worked out this way, with CAP updates coming about as frequently as driver updates. It has been months with these CrossFireX performance issues present, and we are only now seeing it get fixed. AMD needs to stay in tune with its customers a bit better in the future, because honestly, these CFX issues were even voiced in AMD's own forums months ago.

At any rate, this new CrossFireX Application Profile will be available online shortly, and you will want to grab it if you are running a CrossFireX configuration.

Here is the 10.8a CAP file hosted locally by HardOCP.