AMD Changes Driver Business From Catalyst to Crimson

The vendor continues to restructure its graphics efforts by launching Radeon Software Crimson to replace its Catalyst Control Center software unit.

AMD logo

As Advanced Micro Devices officials look to stabilize the chip maker and return it to sustainable profitability, graphics technology will play a key role in the effort.

At a meeting with financial analysts earlier this year, CEO Lisa Su and other executives talked about advances they were making with its Radeon GPUs, from adding the company's high-bandwidth memory (HBM)—a stackable architecture that drives significant performance, density and power efficiency improvements—and launched the first chips with HBM a month later.

In September, the chip maker created the Radeon Technologies Group (RTG), a unit that will drive AMD's graphics efforts going forward and help it become a larger player in the gaming, immersive and augmented-reality computing segments, and professional graphics that officials have said will be cornerstones for the company's turnaround.

"We are entering an age of immersive computing where we will be surrounded by billions of brilliant pixels that enhance our daily lives in ways we have yet to fully comprehend," Su said in a statement at the time. "AMD is well-positioned to lead this transition with graphics IP that powers the best gaming and visual computing experiences today."

The move created a business "focused on solidifying our position as the graphics industry leader, recapturing profitable share across traditional graphics markets, and staking leadership positions in new markets such as virtual and augmented reality," she said.

Now AMD officials are turning their attention to the software around the graphics business. The company is launching Radeon Software Crimson, a collection of software that the company has been building for more than two decades and includes everything from user interfaces, libraries and drives for connecting PC hardware and software.

Radeon Software Crimson replaces what had been known since 2002 as AMD Catalyst Control Center and is designed to compete with rival Nvidia's GeForce Experience collection of software.

"These so-called drivers have evolved into a graphics mini operating system," Raja Koduri, senior vice president of the RTG, said in a video announcing the new software group.

He and other officials with the Radeon Technologies Group said they wanted to bring new capabilities to the software offerings to reflect the growing importance of the drivers to such end users as gamers and developers.

Radeon Software Crimson, which AMD officials said they had been working on for almost a year, includes a redesigned user interface that makes it easier to use and more intuitive. The interface, Radeon Settings, was designed for responsiveness, discoverability and ease of use, according to Terry Makedon, senior manager for the RTG.

"If you combine these, you now have at your fingertips the ability to control your GPU through one simple, modern application," Makedon said in the video.

AMD got into the graphics arena in 2006, when it bought ATI Technologies for $5.4 billion. The acquisitions generated a lot of questions among industry observers, who questioned why AMD was spending so much money on a graphics tech vendor at a time when it was trying to hold its ground against larger rival Intel. AMD over the years has built out its discrete graphics portfolio to challenge Nvidia and also began integrating GPUs onto the same piece of silicon as the CPU to create processors that officials called accelerated processing units, or APUs. Intel now also integrates graphics into many of its processors.