Recently I submitted several posts to people who specialize in “homebrew” ATI video drivers. Specifically, Omega, DNA, and DHZeroPoint.
Killersneak, of DNA drivers was kind enough to respond to my post and lend me some assistance on this issue. He was nice enough to re-release a reworked Catalyst 126.96.36.199 Beta. It has some memory optimizations specifically for the xpress 200m. I have always liked his drivers, and run them on more than one system.
You can access the forum post and the Beta driver link from here:
After installing his drivers, I did notice a performance substancial improvement, but nothing that can make KOTOR or any of the other OpenGL apps remotely usable. Killersneak did do a fantastic job, however, as performance improvements can be measured to be anywhere from 100-200 percent better in certain tests. Unfortunately for the xpress 200m, a one to two hundred percent increase is only about 1-2 additional frames per second. Given how bad the frame rates are, the performance gains need to be in the 1000s of percent range to make any real difference. I went into this fairly convinced that this is entirely a hardware limitation (aka Video FIRMWARE problem), but I wanted that final nail in the proverbial coffin.
Just to give you a notion of what kind of improvement is needed here, take the 1-2 frames per second performance we get now as a baseline. At 1fps. 100% better is 2fps. 1000% better = 10fps. 2000% better = 20fps = barely playable) On average an optimized driver can improve performance but definately not at the level that is needed here. This proves beyond most measure of doubt, that no amount of software optimizations or tweaks can help this problem. This means if it looks, smells, and walks like a duck… it is, well, a duck. Duck, in this case, meaning a Hardware issue.
Feel free to download the driver, some OpenGL benchmarking programs and give it a whirl for yourself. I have come to the conclusion that this is without a doubt, a video firmware issue. However, even with this amount of proof I doubt HP, or any other hardware manufacturer, will do much about it.