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  • OSS Drivers Changing Your Next Purchase?

    Intel's open-source drivers now support the 965G Express and it looks like they are working on improving their open-source drivers quite a bit. AMD/ATI has yet to publicly define what they may be opening up with their fglrx drivers once the merger is complete.

    However, will this shake-up in drivers cause you to rethink your next upgrade/purchase due to the open-source status?
    Michael Larabel
    http://www.michaellarabel.com/

  • #2
    No, because NVIDIA has me locked up in a cage. While I wish NVIDIA had OSS drivers, I enjoy the reliability and performance too much to go elsewhere.

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    • #3
      Until the performance on ATI/Linux can match NV/Linux I probably wouldn't switch, regardless of if it's open source. Although if ATI does open up part of their drivers will NVIDIA follow suit? Besides gaming though, Intel's open-source drivers are great for people that buy pre-built computers from large vendors.

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      • #4
        The theoretical performance of ATI versus NVidia is actually VERY close to each other. ATI's being broken upon the wheel against NVidia by the differences in the drivers- this could be just software architechture problems (You can go about doing things needed in a 3D card in several different ways, but only a couple of them are ideal under a given architechture- ATI's answers for Windows may not mesh as nicely as NVidia's under Linux...) or a hardware architechture issue where the interface doesn't allow for a "nice" hook into the OS in question.

        I suspect software problems, myself. Having seen all too many hardware vendors trying to take a 12# sledgehammer to the Square Peg of a Windows driver solution to the much smaller round hole of the Linux driver problem, some of it to avoid giving out details, some of it because they don't want "to duplicate work with different code paths", thinking that it'll save them time to just re-use the Windows answer no matter what- that I doubt it is anything other than that. Open Sourcing the drivers will allow someone to FIX that problem and bring the performance to where it should be. There is no good reason for the why my Express 200M laptop is roughly half the speed of Windows' drivers other than trying to wedge a Windows solution to a Linux problem in the drivers.

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        • #5
          Now, as to my commentary on whether this will impact my purchasing decisions- YES. As it stands, I plan on getting an i965G based motherboard, something I would not normally do since I'm more of a fan of AMD based solutions. Part of it is for testing reasons- I'm dead sure there'll be a lot of these machines on the market shortly; if the performance is in the same general ballpark as the mid-end ATI and NVidia integrated offerings currently are, the machine will be able to play many if not most of the modern games at least in a mediocre fashion. With it being largely open source, I'm also pretty sure that unless it's a total stinker, a lot of Linux users and developers will buy it just for that reason.

          That, folks, is my current customer base for the stuff I've been doing off and on for the past 3+ years now. ATI's drivers don't do this for me except at the top-end and the performance is positively lackluster right at the moment. NVidia's got my attention only because they work as well as their Windows counterparts do on the driver front. If I had a compelling (within 5-10% performance difference either way of NVidia's) vendor step up to the plate with Open Sourced drivers, they'd have my attention just like Intel has right at the moment.

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          • #6
            I'm waiting for a day when both the Nvidia and ATI are open source and comply with GPL, meaning they'll be included with your favourite distro rather than having to download it post install to get your games running right (and overclocking if that takes your fancy).

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Svartalf View Post
              Now, as to my commentary on whether this will impact my purchasing decisions- YES. As it stands, I plan on getting an i965G based motherboard, something I would not normally do since I'm more of a fan of AMD based solutions. Part of it is for testing reasons- I'm dead sure there'll be a lot of these machines on the market shortly; if the performance is in the same general ballpark as the mid-end ATI and NVidia integrated offerings currently are, the machine will be able to play many if not most of the modern games at least in a mediocre fashion. With it being largely open source, I'm also pretty sure that unless it's a total stinker, a lot of Linux users and developers will buy it just for that reason.
              I bought a Intel-based motherboard and Intel-based CPU for the first time _ever_. Before it was always AMD and Via..

              But now all you find is Nvidia or ATI motherboards. New Nvidia motherboards suck because hardware support is crap and what you do have is in the form of these horrific binary drivers. WTF would I want a binary-only driver for ethernet or sound? There are about a billion other devices with great open source support. I went on the Internet and saw people in forums all over struggling to get Linux working well on these things.

              And ATI is worse.

              Via seems to have fallen behind and I couldn't realy find a motherboard they used that I liked. They weren't realy offering any thing I realy liked.

              So I bought a Intel motherboard with onboard gigabit ethernet, sound, and video and installed Debian testing on it. Sound worked out of the box. Ethernet worked out of the box. 2D acceleration worked out of the box. 3d acceleration worked out of the box (and with tweaking it worked well).

              Although I would much prefer AMD and think that Intel isn't realy all that great I won't be going back unless that ATI/AMD merger produces devices with good open source driver support.

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              • #8
                Good luck with that one. Knowing ATI's crappy driver support, I wouldn't touch them with a ten foot pole.

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                • #9
                  Well, opensource drivers don't normally influence me of my next purchase. Competent drivers do influence my decisions. So if the Intel 965G can outpace my X800 Pro 256... then I'd gladly buy one mobo from Intel.

                  Just a note... has anyone actually tried to Opensource drivers for ATi cards pre-9200? 3D hardware acceleration is working out of the box, I believe.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by niniendowarrior View Post
                    Just a note... has anyone actually tried to Opensource drivers for ATi cards pre-9200? 3D hardware acceleration is working out of the box, I believe.
                    For pre-9200 hardware, I believe David (of Phoronix) uses some Radeon 7500's and/or 8500's with the open-source drivers. Personally I haven't touched any pre-9200 stuff in a long while.
                    Michael Larabel
                    http://www.michaellarabel.com/

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Michael View Post
                      For pre-9200 hardware, I believe David (of Phoronix) uses some Radeon 7500's and/or 8500's with the open-source drivers. Personally I haven't touched any pre-9200 stuff in a long while.
                      Out of the R200 era cards (8500-9250 I beleive) the 8500 should be the fastest. Faster then the 9200. It had higher clocks on memory and gpu if I remember correctly. Back in the day 'The Weather Channel' actually paid to help get 3d drivers for these things.

                      edit:
                      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radeon_R200
                      The 8500 had 275mhz clock on Memory and GPU. The 9200 had 240mhz clock and 200mhz ram. Also it had a more complex pipeline arrangement (4/2:2 for the 8500 vs 4/1:1 for the 9200.. whatever that means) and the 128meg version had it's memory interweaved which probably did a slight performance boost.)


                      With 7500 I donno. I expect their would be 3d acceleration from Free drivers, but it's probably been a long time since anybody tried to use them for gaming so I don't know of the stability.

                      ATI was somewhat helpfull with 3d drivers in Linux up until the time right around they won the contract to start developing a GPU for the Xbox 360. It is probably a coincidence, but maybe not. It's the same time frame anyways. Now a X developer has made 2D drivers for the r500 series cards and ATI has him under NDA because of what he does for a living and they are refusing to let him release code for those, even though they are very basic drivers.

                      It's probably just normal corporate BS. Everybody is too chicken to actually say 'yes' to anything.

                      Well, opensource drivers don't normally influence me of my next purchase. Competent drivers do influence my decisions. So if the Intel 965G can outpace my X800 Pro 256... then I'd gladly buy one mobo from Intel.
                      That would take magic, not extra special drivers. There is no way in hell that the 965G X3000 will come close to the ATI X800 with both having decent drivers.
                      (anyways.. If it was raw speed your after both your ATI card and the majority of your games would run much better under Windows, so why bother with Linux? (we both know it's more then just speed))

                      I am doubting that the X3000 will even been that much better then the GMA 950 at this point. It'll probably help in those games that take advantage of the extra hardware features that X3000, but otherwise I'd bet it's a incremental increase in performance, not a huge one.
                      Last edited by drag; 09-28-2006, 11:34 PM.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by drag View Post
                        ATI was somewhat helpfull with 3d drivers in Linux up until the time right around they won the contract to start developing a GPU for the Xbox 360. It is probably a coincidence, but maybe not. It's the same time frame anyways. Now a X developer has made 2D drivers for the r500 series cards and ATI has him under NDA because of what he does for a living and they are refusing to let him release code for those, even though they are very basic drivers.
                        David was under NDA with R200/300/400 generation GPUs -- not R500. By running the program that he did on an R500 component, he technically violated his NDA. Thus since he was not authorized to do so, ATI will not permit the release of his code at this time.

                        That there is the basic answer.
                        Michael Larabel
                        http://www.michaellarabel.com/

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Michael View Post
                          David was under NDA with R200/300/400 generation GPUs -- not R500. By running the program that he did on an R500 component, he technically violated his NDA. Thus since he was not authorized to do so, ATI will not permit the release of his code at this time.

                          That there is the basic answer.
                          It's a possible answer, but he still went through ATI to get permission. It's very likely that if he broke his NDA there would be more ramifactions then ATI simply ignoring his request with no explaination. They didn't tell him no or yes or slap him on the hand or anything. Doesn't sound like it to me that he did anything wrong. He is just being ignored.

                          If he violated the NDA I would expect _something_ to happen.

                          Anyways there is only 2 groups of people who would know about weither or not he violated his NDA and that would be either ATI or Airle. Did you talk to either one of them about it?

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by drag View Post
                            It's a possible answer, but he still went through ATI to get permission. It's very likely that if he broke his NDA there would be more ramifactions then ATI simply ignoring his request with no explaination. They didn't tell him no or yes or slap him on the hand or anything. Doesn't sound like it to me that he did anything wrong. He is just being ignored.

                            If he violated the NDA I would expect _something_ to happen.

                            Anyways there is only 2 groups of people who would know about weither or not he violated his NDA and that would be either ATI or Airle. Did you talk to either one of them about it?
                            Yes, actually I had briefly discussed the situation with a representative from ATI after David's blog post.
                            Michael Larabel
                            http://www.michaellarabel.com/

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              That's too bad. I was hoping that someday I'd be able to purchase a r500 card.

                              But unless ATI cleans up it's act, it's just not going to happen. The only reason I have the ATI cards I have is because I can get 3d going without binary-only modules. Ultimately if I am forced to choose between to bads then Nvidia + propriatory drivers is far far superior then ATI + propriatory drivers. There is just no contest.

                              If AMD-ATI thing doesn't work out well and Intel doesn't produce a decent card.. then it's Nvidia or bust. Too bad, ATI stuff is generally pretty good.

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