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  • ATI and Linux compatibility

    Hi! I've been researching for hardware to buy a new computer. As I only use Linux but never used any ATI graphic card and a friend of mine said a while ago the combination is by any means no good, I wondered if the scenario changed over the years. Searching on internet, found AMD website FAQ, which states that "ATI Proprietary Linux driver currently supports Radeon 8500 and later AGP or PCI Express graphics products" (http://ati.amd.com/products/catalyst/linux.html#2)

    You, Linux users, owners of ATI cards, would you please tell if it's possible to do the combination Linux/ATI and still play performance demanding games (on wine and natively)?

    I searched but couldn't find useful and **updated** material on internet. Most of material are from past 5 years!!

    Thanks in advance,
    Rauss.

  • #2
    You should better get an nVidia GPU because of stability and performance. FGLRX (in my case) is highly unoptimised and unstable (for me its crashing X even for some 2D games). There is video tearing as well as you dont use OpenGL output and no HD acceleration at all.

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    • #3
      I think it can depend of what are you looking for.

      - If you want to use wine a lot (I will never understand this type of linux user, please boot up windows and really enjoy your games) your card should be nvidia, because wine has better support for it. Although some games work perfect too with ati.

      - If you are an opensource lover ATI should be your choice, at this moment it doesn't have power management (so the card runs hot), but this will be solved in the upcoming 2.6.35 kernel. 2d will be *superb*, and you have opengl 2.0 (opengl 2.1 planned for august-mesa 7.9) but 3d is unoptimized it runs at 1/2 1/3 of proprietary driver speed.

      - If you want to use 3d linux applications-games, i will choose ati, ati evergreen is better hardware than nvidia fermi and has better performance/power consumption ratios.

      Note: nvidia has video acceleration support and ati no, so playing hd video content consumes 30-80% cpu on ati (mplayer multi-thread), but the video is perfect playable.

      Here i am running ati 4350, lucid 10.4 and fglrx 10.4 since 2 moths, no problems, kde 4 ok, HD video ok, and some wine games ok.

      Regards,

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      • #4
        Well, thank you guys, Schmaker and Jimbo.
        I intent to play Windows game actually and I think my choice will be Nvidia. I wish ATI would fit my needs because I a-d-o-r-e AMD.

        Just to reply the "why don't you use Windows" question, I think it's disgusting. I remember when I last used it, I'd spend more time fixing it (virus, and other problems) than actually using it lol.

        Thank you, again.

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        • #5
          I am currently not gaming at all, but some years ago my solution to gaming was a 2 pc solution:

          PC1 Economic and porwer-friendly (60W)PC for working, internet, porno, movies,p2p,chat... Linux OS

          PC2 decent computer with good cpu and gpu. Windows OS. This computer was sometype of console but with windows to select your game.

          KVM switch to manage the 2 pcs with the same keyboard, mouse, display and speakers.

          I understand that this solution doesn't fit to everybody but i was really pleased with that. Wine doesn't work with all games and you will waste a lot of your time (your life is time limited! this is important XD) looking winehq, trying dlls... Anyway good luck with your purchase.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Jimbo View Post
            I think it can depend of what are you looking for.

            - If you want to use 3d linux applications-games, i will choose ati, ati evergreen is better hardware than nvidia fermi and has better performance/power consumption ratios.

            Note: nvidia has video acceleration support and ati no, so playing hd video content consumes 30-80% cpu on ati (mplayer multi-thread), but the video is perfect playable.

            Here i am running ati 4350, lucid 10.4 and fglrx 10.4 since 2 moths, no problems, kde 4 ok, HD video ok, and some wine games ok.

            Regards,
            I'd say that's a solid comparison post and sounds objective, imho. The only thing I'd add although I cannot profess to offer any kind of info about it, but the situation with XVideo. I guess you mentioned hardware acceleration so in that respect, it counts. Also, compiz and/or 3D Desktop Effects might be a factor if you like that sort of thing. I think it's interesting initially but isn't a deal breaker for me. Although, if you take a look at the overall picture, nvidia seems to have way less issues. Also, as much as the FOSS fans (I acknowledge the preference and ideals of FOSS, btw!) like the open source driver, having a split seems to mean a wait for both drivers to progress. Even if having the split has no effect or impact, the wait for features to be improved or established is a long wait.

            If it's a Windows machine or you'll use Windows more than Linux, then it's a no brainer and no choice, ATI all the way. However, if Linux is the primary OS being used and Windows is only games or even used less often, I think it's way tougher to choose ATI. I guess it really does matter what you will be doing. If you really need performance for either gaming or 3D, then ATI might be a better choice. However, on purely Linux machines, it is a long wait for having full support. If you boot Windows on occasion, it's even more understandable to choose ATI. If you don't need high performance the GT200 Nvidia cards are easily more than enough.

            I really don't see Fermi offering much more than these 'high power' cards and although there might be some mid-range cards eventually, I think I'll compare the GT 240 and ATI 4770. The HD 5770 I'd like to choose but it's a lot of money for a card that ATI/AMD is taking ages to support.

            Yep, it depends what you want to do with the card and what's your patience level?

            Comment


            • #7
              I think that ati evergreen series are perfectly supported on fglrx, but not 3d on opensource, at this moment.

              My loved card is a ati 5570 passive, , 10-40W and a decent performance!!

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              • #8
                I am currently not gaming at all, but some years ago my solution to gaming was a 2 pc solution:
                lool... you used to suffer, man. You can have Linux and Windows on different partitions. :P

                -x-x-x-x-

                Originally posted by Panix View Post
                If it's a Windows machine or you'll use Windows more than Linux, then it's a no brainer and no choice, ATI all the way.
                So, ATI and Windows are a perfect match? There're no issues using ATI drivers on Win?

                I'm thinking about an ATI HD5850 (1GB GDDR5 256-bit).

                -x-x-x-x-
                My loved card is a ati 5570 passive, , 10-40W and a decent performance!!
                haha..

                I'm not so technical about GPUs, but since you mentioned the Watts, don't you think ATI consumes more eletrical power than Nvidia and would be more expensive, when it comes to power consumption? Or am I wrong?

                Thx for the replies =)

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                • #9
                  lool... you used to suffer, man. You can have Linux and Windows on different partitions. :P

                  One pc was totally fanless , 0db, 60 W, the another was 300W with 3 fans. I like to work, internet... on a quiet environment. And I like to be a little "eco-friendly" I only need the 300W computer to play games.

                  I'm not so technical about GPUs, but since you mentioned the Watts, don't you think ATI consumes more eletrical power than Nvidia and would be more expensive, when it comes to power consumption? Or am I wrong?


                  Totally worng Current ATIs consumes less power than nvidia at the same performance level.

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                  • #10
                    Well, thanks you all, specially you, Jimbo, for you quick replies and interest. It will be an ATI, then!

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                    • #11
                      I prefer ati a lot, the hardware is better for sure, on windows side the performance / power consuption is better. But on linux side software/drivers are not as good as nvidia, I think that my needs are not the same as you, I see you as a wine guy , so its important that you consider:

                      - wine has more problems.
                      - no video accel.
                      - and panix has said a good point too: compiz and/or 3D Desktop Effects might be a factor if you like that sort of thing.

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                      • #12
                        I'll be critical of both ATI and Nvidia in this post. So, pay attention.

                        One other complaint or concern with ATI: you need decent drivers to obtain the advantage of the lower power and lower heat that the newer ATI cards provide. So, what good are these advantages if ATI/AMD cannot even offer the required support? You need good drivers for these cards to run optimally, just ask Nvidia. I told you I'd be criticizing them both in almost the same sentence.

                        I have read of Compiz/3D (desktop effects) being an issue in both Gnome and KDE (although, it seems more prominent a problem when using KDE 4) but in my perspective, the issues seem to crop up more in machines with ATI cards. It's the wait and the inevitable problems that causes me to hesitate buying an ATI card. If the HD 4xxx card can be bought cheaply enough I'd consider that. Otherwise, I'd go with Nvidia, maybe a GT 240 if you don't game.

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                        • #13
                          Personally I am using three computers, all running Ubuntu 9.10 (x86_64). The computers are equipped with the following graphics cards:

                          AMD HD4870 512MB
                          AMD HD5770 1GB
                          AMD HD3200 (integrated on motherboard)

                          I use the closed source FGLRX drivers for all pc's and normal desktop usage with compiz is working fine. I do some OpenGL development (using the newest OpenGL 3.3 / 4.0 stuff) and mostly that works fine as well (I do not encounter many bugs). Native Linux OpenGL applications work fine as well (Blender 2.50 alpha, World of Goo).

                          I do not use Wine and I don't watch many movies on my computers. Both are usage examples that cause many complaints on these forums, be aware (although I have the impression that the Wine situation is improving as the AMD OpenGL drivers tend to get more and more stable and most important OpenGL stuff is supported nowadays).

                          Because I am an Ubuntu user I never have any problems with the latest and greatest kernels/xorg versions (mainly a problem for Fedora users who want the latest versions).

                          The machines with HD5770 and HD4870 are also used in Windows for gaming (which works fine).

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                          • #14
                            One other complaint or concern with ATI: you need decent drivers to obtain the advantage of the lower power and lower heat that the newer ATI cards provide. So, what good are these advantages if ATI/AMD cannot even offer the required support?
                            [/QUOTE]

                            I think you are miss informed, opensource drivers doesn't have power manegament yet, but on fglrx power management works flawlessly you get the lower power consuption when the cpu is not in use.

                            I do not use Wine and I don't watch many movies on my computers. Both are usage examples that cause many complaints on these forums, be aware.
                            Wine causes more problem on ati than nvidia, is not totally ati fault, because wine 3d devs focus more on nvidia. HD Video 720p and 1080p is perfectly playable using mplayer multi-threaded, i use it a lot , no probs.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Panix View Post
                              I'll be critical of both ATI and Nvidia in this post. So, pay attention.

                              One other complaint or concern with ATI: you need decent drivers to obtain the advantage of the lower power and lower heat that the newer ATI cards provide. So, what good are these advantages if ATI/AMD cannot even offer the required support?
                              This makes absolutely no sense. Power management is one of the things that just works with fglrx. And if you install kernel form drm-radeon-testing you also get power management with the oss drivers.

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