This is a very simple but effective way to test out new features present with only the newest AMD Radeon GPUs. We all know how AMD implements new features for their newest cards first and a month or two later they do it for earlier series.
The latest example is SSAA (Super Sample Anti Aliasing) for DX10+ games. SSAA for DirectX 10 and 11 games was implemented with AMD Catalyst 12.2 WHQL but only for HD7xxx Cards. What I want to show you is how to have this kind of feature with earlier graphic cards.
Edit: Unfortunately, SSSAA still doesn’t work with DX10+ games with cards prior to HD7000 after applying this mod (tested with Crysis 2, F1 2011, Metro 2033, Battlefield 3, AvP and SR3) but the performance boost is there nonetheless. While taking a deeper look at the files I noticed that there is a definitive change to the SSAA code going from 12.1 to 12.2 whql but I’m not a software engineer and can’t modify such things without the sky falling. Moreover, the INFs don’t contain anything related to SSAA so doing changes there is futile in enabling such a feature. I apologize for creating false hope.
To be completely clear: Following this guide will not modify the actual display driver. We are just telling the Control Center that we have a different card installed.
Following this tutorial will allow you to “unlock” exclusive features present in Catalyst Control Center for any given AMD Graphic Card. Basically, we will tell Catalyst Control Center that we have a different GPU thus enabling features and optimizations only available for the latest Cards.
Note: If you don’t plan on installing Catalyst Control Center after you mod the drivers there is no point in modding the drivers in the first place.
In my example I will show you how to “fool” CCC in to thinking that we have a HD7900 GPU instead of a HD6950. I’ll keep it simple so anyone can understand.
1. First of all we need a AMD Catalyst driver package, for the purposes of this guide I will use AMD Catalyst 12.4 Beta. You can use whatever driver package you want.
2. After we settled for a driver package we need to extract it. To do so, all you have to do is the execute the aforesaid driver package and let the extraction take place but be sure to cancel the installation after the files have been extracted.
3. The extracted files are found in C:\AMD\Support\*Driver String*. Now for the actual modding:
a) We need to locate the file where all the driver information is stored. Navigate to C:\AMD\SUPPORT\120315a-135399E-win7-Vista\Packages\Drivers\Display and here should be one or more folders depending if the driver has support for x86 and/or x64 operating systems.
- If you have a x86 (32-bit) operating system enter this folder: W7_INF
- If you have a x64 (64-bit) operating system enter this folder: W76A_INF
b) If you have Windows 7 installed you need to edit: C7xxxxxx.inf and if you have Windows Vista you need to edit CHxxxxxx.inf;
- C7 or CW – Windows 7
- CH or CW – Windows Vista
- CX or CA – Windows XP
- C8 or CE – Windows 8
c) After you are sure of which file is appropriate for your system, open it with your favorite text editor (Notepad or preferably Notepad++). Leave the editor opened for now.
d) Inside that file we just opened we need to replace a string that will be written in the registry upon driver installation. So we need to know what must be replaced, to do so we need our GPU’s Hardware ID. There are more than one way to find the HARDWARE ID but the simplest way is to use a tool provided by AMD:
Donwload Device ID, run it and it should return the Hardware ID like so:
The DeviceID for my HD6950 is 0x6719.
d) Now that we know the Hardware ID of your GPU we need to settle upon a Graphic Card we want to replace our current one (sort of say). More precisely, what GPU should Catalyst Control Center detect? I want my HD6950 to be seen as a 7900 Series GPU. You can choose whatever GPU you want, the process is similar.
Go to your text editor and search inside that inf opened for 7900 and you will find something like:
We just found the Hardware ID for the AMD Radeon HD 7900 Series GPU: 6798.
So we have our own Hardware ID for HD6950: 6719 and the Hardware ID for 7900: 6798.
The full list for AMD Hardware IDs is available here: http://developer.amd.com/download/pc_vendor_id/pages/default.aspx
e) Now we have to find out the value that gets written in the registry for HD7900 Series GPUs. To do that we need to search again (in the same inf file as before) for 6798 (hardware id for 7900)
We’re only interested in the first part of the string: ati2mtag_R575, write this string down.
f) Now we need to search (in the same inf as before) with our own GPU Hardware ID, in my case: 6719. We should find this string: ati2mtag_NICayman.
No we have both strings:
- ati2mtag_R575 – HD7900
- ati2mtag_NICayman – HD6950
We need to replace the string for HD6950 (our GPU) with the string for HD7900.
g) After you replaced one string with the other, simply save the .inf file. We are done “modding”.
4. We can now go ahead and install the driver: C:\AMD\SUPPORT\120315a-135399E-win7-Vista\setup.exe
By modifying the .inf file we have changed the file’s checksum so Windows will prompt us with the following warning. Just continue installation.
That’s about it, now Catalyst Control Center will unlock “hidden” features and optimizations available only for HD7900 Cards. I want you to understand that some features like MLAA need specific hardware capabilities and will not work with unsupported GPUs no matter what you do to the driver.
Modding drivers might look hard to do at first but after you do it once it becomes that much easier. This process is rather simple, a few copy-paste operations and you’re done.
But the interesting part is yet to come. Go to the next page to see the performance results.