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How does AMD/ATi fglrx beta driver testing work?

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  • How does AMD/ATi fglrx beta driver testing work?

    Hi!

    I am just curious if there is someone here which could share some insight into the driver beta testing process that AMD/ATi is running before releasing a new fglrx driver. I guess some of this info is under NDA, but perhaps at least a little info could be shared.

    Lately, we've had some new outstanding bugs in the driver, such as the infamous OpenGL memory leak (in e.g. 7.11) or dropped support for many wide screen resolutions (in 7.12), making many people wonder how the beta testing process works and why it does not catch such problems.

    We are masters in creating our own FUD around here due to lack of information and insight into the development process, and a little more info could perhaps lower the "temperature" in the forum a bit.

    So, for instance:

    How many AMD developers work on the fglrx driver? How wide range of hardware is tested in-house before each release? What software is generally used by the devs for testing?

    How many non-AMD Linux developers and users have access to binary beta releases? What hardware is covered? What software are they encouraged to try? How does bug reporting work? How can one become a tester?

  • #2
    Yes, some on-going communication from ATI/AMD would help

    Amen to that!
    On a personal note, I am wondering why none of the fglrx drivers released since version 8.42 onwards work properly on my shiny new HIS Radeon HD2600XT IceQ turbo AGP?

    I have to disable DRI to make the driver work which totally defeats the purpose!
    Aside from that, none of the catalyst 7-10 & later windows installers (I have a dual-boot PC) recognise the card under windows either, forcing me to manually install them after which they work properly.

    I guess some insight into how ATI works together with OEMs to incorporate all the different versions of their cards / chipsets into the driver would also help?

    Comment


    • #3
      These question sound like "come on, does AMD know about its driver issues?". The answer is yes.

      Comment


      • #4
        The answer is yes.
        ok, but do they know about them from their beta testers, _before_ users discover them? or is it the other way around and the users are unwilling beta testers this time?

        i sometimes have serious doubts about that, because if they had found most serious bugs in beta tests they would put them into release notes (which would get 3 times as long in result).

        Comment


        • #5
          The release notes would be already longer then 3 times as long if they were complete. It would be great to have the same beta testing method as nVidia has, let users report issues to the nvnews.net forum and they have a look over it. But that will not be done with AMD in the near future for two reasons:

          1.) Most of the posts in forums are the same "AMD sucks", AMD does not want to read 30 pages long threads to find one or two good posts about new bugs and tests with them.

          2.) AMD has already enough to do, it's not like AMD sits down and thinks "what can we work on now?" - they propably have a long ToDo-list.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Swoopy View Post
            Amen to that!
            On a personal note, I am wondering why none of the fglrx drivers released since version 8.42 onwards work properly on my shiny new HIS Radeon HD2600XT IceQ turbo AGP?

            I have to disable DRI to make the driver work which totally defeats the purpose!
            Aside from that, none of the catalyst 7-10 & later windows installers (I have a dual-boot PC) recognise the card under windows either, forcing me to manually install them after which they work properly.

            I guess some insight into how ATI works together with OEMs to incorporate all the different versions of their cards / chipsets into the driver would also help?
            You might wanna read http://www.phoronix.com/forums/showthread.php?t=6622
            or http://ati.cchtml.com/show_bug.cgi?id=914 which looks like your problem.

            Comment


            • #7
              Michael had another thread going a few weeks ago collectiong questions for the dev team. We're going to try to work through those questions (and will add the ones above) in the new year.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by oliver View Post
                Thanks for the hint Oliver, I had already found that thread. It's very helpful of you to point it out, thanks again.

                First off, I couldn't find that error in my Xorg at all, so I think my AGP card is getting a proper interrupt.
                Second, I'm not sure if the HD2600XT uses the Rialto bridge chip? Does anyone know?

                Third, Ive tried every fglrx driver that came out since the HD2600XT AGP was released & supported, they all behave differently but none work with DRI enabled.
                They work okay with DRI off though, so I doubt it's a hardware issue?
                At any rate, I've tried Catalyst 7-12 as well, with every AGP aperture BIOS setting available to me, and I simply can't get that driver to work with DRI on.

                Best result I've had so far with DRI on was the 7-11 version which came to the point of drawing the Ubuntu 7.10 greeter screen and getting stuck just beyond the point of drawing the first "Ok" button filling the rest of the screen with white before hanging up my PC.
                All other drivers result in a black screen and a hung PC right after starting GDM.

                I think my issue is different, though likely related to dodgy AGP support in the fglrx drivers, and at any rate, it seems as if the AGP issues reported in that thread aren't fully resolved in 7-12 anyway.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by d2kx View Post
                  These question sound like "come on, does AMD know about its driver issues?". The answer is yes.
                  You're partially right.
                  The questions also speak "AMD/ATI, we assume you're doing something to fix these driver issues but please acknowledge & confirm that you are?"

                  I have seen many threads on this forum, both before and after I registered, that indicate whatever is coming up in the next Catalyst fglrx release is a big mystery to everyone here, in other words, "pot luck" depending on which ATI chipset / card one has in one's system.

                  The release mechanism of ATI and the various driver branches for Linux that have been out there have now been properly explained by a kind person "in the know" but I think 'engaging with the open source community' ought to go further than slowly opening up the engineering specifications of the different chipsets.
                  I believe ATI, now AMD, could become a greater supporter of the open source community with relatively little effort by opening up a communication channel (a "Blog", perchance) to us that lets us know what's going on. A bit like what Adobe did when they were working on flash 9 for Linux, if you were following that.
                  I believe that would buy them tons of goodwill that could stem the flow of ATI users to nVidia for lack of proper driver support from ATI for their platform of choice.

                  EDIT / UPDATE: woops, bridgman's post indicated that what I suggest here is possibly already happening.
                  I hadn't read that one when I posted my reply (and I believe bridgman was "the kind person in the know" to begin with as well :-$ )
                  Last edited by Swoopy; 12-28-2007, 11:52 AM.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Swoopy View Post
                    I believe ATI, now AMD, could become a greater supporter of the open source community with relatively little effort by opening up a communication channel (a "Blog", perchance) to us that lets us know what's going on.
                    We are going to do that in the new year, but in the early days our focus was on supporting the radeonhd development team at Novell/SuSE. We have weekly calls with them and work through lists of open questions and issues, although it's only recently (since Alex joined us) that we have been able to generally keep up with their questions.

                    FYI, I think the "kind person" who provided info on the fglrx release cycle was actually Matthew -- I only became involved in the Linux side when we started the recent open source initiative. Our Linux development cycle was mid-way through a major transition when that article was written so it's probably time for an update. I think the Q&A will probably answer most of the questions.
                    Last edited by bridgman; 12-28-2007, 01:41 PM.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by bridgman View Post
                      We are going to do that in the new year, but in the early days our focus had to be on trying to support the radeonhd development team at Novell/SuSE. We have weekly calls with them and work through lists of open questions and issues, although it's only recently (since Alex joined us) that we have really been able to keep up with their questions.
                      Bridgman, are you a developer of ATI/AMD linux driver team? If the case, I hope you would look back R3xx Users who were left behind the support of fglrx. I use mobility radeon 9600 on my ThinkPad T42, and with fglrx it DOES NOT suspend, wake up. With AIGLX on, Compiz works but average responsiveness of all app is totally unusable(eg, firefox scrolling, multi-tasking...).

                      I really really hope these BASIC issues would be fixed soon.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by bridgman View Post
                        FYI, I think the "kind person" who provided info on the fglrx release cycle was actually Matthew -- I only became involved in the Linux side when we started the recent open source initiative. Our Linux development cycle was mid-way through a major transition when that article was written so it's probably time for an update. I think the Q&A will probably answer most of the questions.
                        You deserve the title of "kind person" yourself as well with that thorough response.
                        Thanks!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by gazrang View Post
                          Bridgman, are you a developer of ATI/AMD linux driver team?
                          My main focus is the open source side but Matthew and I talk a lot.

                          Originally posted by gazrang View Post
                          I hope you would look back R3xx Users who were left behind the support of fglrx. I use mobility radeon 9600 on my ThinkPad T42, and with fglrx it DOES NOT suspend, wake up.
                          I don't think you were "left behind" as an R3xx user -- from what I can see some users of newer chips are reporting similar problems. R3xx users should benefit from many of the fixes made for newer ASICs, in the same way that going to the new OpenGL code base improved performance for R3xx and R4xx users as well, not just 5xx/6xx owners.

                          One of the major challenges the Linux driver team had been facing for years was that it took all of their resources and more just to keep up with the introduction of new ASICs, particularly ones with significant architectural changes like the R5xx and R6xx series. For the last year or so their focus has been moving from Linux-specific code to using a fair amount of common code *inside* the same fglrx driver shell. The only benefits you would have seen from that work so far are improved OpenGL performance, initial AIGLX support and more timely support of new ASICs (HD3850/70 as an example), but an important "invisible" benefit is that the Linux team now has to spend relatively less time supporting new ASICs and can start to spend time improving the Linux-specific portions of the driver itself.

                          You should see more Linux-specific improvements in 2008 -- 2007 was really a transition year where a lot of the work being done by the driver teams did not immediately result in user-visible improvements. We weren't planning to talk much about this until you started to see the results on your systems, but there are some common questions from our Linux users that we are going to try to answer in the new year.

                          Originally posted by gazrang View Post
                          With AIGLX on, Compiz works but average responsiveness of all app is totally unusable(eg, firefox scrolling, multi-tasking...).
                          re: Firefox scrolling, I believe there is one specific format conversion in the driver which we need to optimize in order to improve handling of big windows in general. I don't know the details (something about different formats for textures and graphics windows) but apparently it's rarely used except when running Compiz. In the meantime, I think everyone knows to turn off smooth scrolling in Firefox but for those who have not it apparently makes a big difference.

                          Originally posted by Swoopy View Post
                          You deserve the title of "kind person" yourself as well with that thorough response.
                          Thanks
                          Last edited by bridgman; 12-28-2007, 01:45 PM.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            "would not recommend" ...

                            Bridgman - this kind of enlightening dialog is exactly what I and I guess many others have been missing all along! Thanx for taking your time and being so informative!

                            Of course we do not expect you to smurf around in forums and give detailed input and promise bug-fixes all day long, just give us some insight into the process and provide us with some realistic expectations. Us FOSS buffs take openness for granted these days and any message or request that goes unanswered for 24 hours sparkles fear, anger and hatred ;-)

                            As you all know, many of us have invested quite a lot of money in our computer platforms and use them not only for gaming or trivial desktop tasks, but also for our own work.

                            I guess my specific case is not unique around here. I bought my Thinkpad Z61m with an X1400 for about $2000 about a year ago as a desktop replacement for both private and scientific use, and it is not that I can replace the graphics card for a hundred bucks if I am unhappy with it. It really is a great machine. When I bought it the 2.6.20 kernel + 8.35.5 fglrx combo worked quite well, but as kernel development progressed and I needed to upgrade to get new features and hardware support, I could only watch in despair how the later graphics drivers progressively got worse over the year - I've lost XVideo, OpenGL due to the memory leak, suspend-to-ram and support for the native resolution of the laptop LCD, in different combinations in different driver releases. Instead I've had freezes and on-screen artifacts. We're not talking about loosing 50 fps in glxgears, but problems defeating the whole purpose of getting the laptop in the first place - and no real info form AMD/ATi that things were going to get any better in the near future. I know that I have a nice chip and laptop that in theory should be able to play HD material and modern 3D games, none of which have manifested themselves well in practice.

                            But now for the first time I feel that 2008 really has much to offer for us AMD/ATi users - the open drivers are coming along nicely, there are new documents to be released, a forum/blog/site for interaction between the developers and users to be opened and devs like Bridgman are demonstrating impressive patience with our rants here at Phoronix.

                            -> "would definitely recommend" :-)

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Hey, I would second a blog over the fglrx progress. Dell made one when Michael Dell took over as CEO with their Direct2Dell propaganda. Personally, I think it's very informative and is pretty effective and clearing up FUD since there are less rumors and more facts. Plus, when there is a human connection to a corporation, it is easier to comprehend the obstacles the company is trying to get over, thus less overall "this company sucks because they're not doing this and that" posts everywhere.

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