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Present & Future of Intel Driver

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  • Present & Future of Intel Driver

    Hello all,

    I've been contemplating the idea of purchasing a laptop since Christmas, mainly for use around the house (to free me from my desk), but also for the odd occasion where I'm out and about.

    Now, cost is a factor and anything with a discrete GPU is unnervingly expensive. So I've been looking at getting a "budget" laptop with a GMA 4500MHD.

    It's been a while since I tinkered about with Intel GFX hardware under Linux and I'm having a little trouble finding reliable information on just how things are at present, and where things are headed.

    The laptop would be used for "everyday" work such as e-mail, web browsing and so on. I have no intention on running graphically intensive 3D games on it; maybe the odd "oldie" 3D game via WINE now and then. I have a PC for those graphically intensive "next-gen" games.

    So I guess it'd be best to put all this in the form of a couple of questions =P

    1) How is performance with the Intel driver these days? I'm thinking of maybe using a composited desktop, can the 4500MHD handle that without massive slowdowns?

    2) How well does the 4500MHD power-save under Linux? Battery life isn't the most important thing, but a couple of hours would be great.

    3) Is there any plans to expose the HD decoding engine of the 4500MHD under Linux? I know it's available under Windows, but who wants to use that? ^u^

    Any other thoughts would be appreciated!

  • #2
    nvidia is the best driver for wine. I don't think that will change in the near future. Also vdpau is available for nvidia now and what intel supports in the future is not known.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Kano View Post
      nvidia is the best driver for wine. I don't think that will change in the near future. Also vdpau is available for nvidia now and what intel supports in the future is not known.
      Unless you're an opensource zealot, save yourself some grief and spend some money on NVidia.

      I can't say that Intel hasn't put forth a good effort. I appreciate how open their drivers are. I would choose them over ATI.

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      • #4
        I can't believe how biased people are in favour of nvidia. I've had nothing but bad experiences with them. Older cards are deprecated and support for them is slowed to a crawl at random times. Support for the latest kernel and xserver is also up to their release schedule. 2D is slow compared to OSS drivers for other cards. If you don't want things to become horribly unusable, stay away fron nvidia.

        Intel is my #1 choice for mobile computers. Suspend/resume works very well. 2D is screamingly fast. 3D works for all the older games I play on wine and natively. UT2004 runs 1280x800 at 20 fps. NWN runs without lag. Warcraft 3 does 1440x900 at 28 fps. Compoiste works without lag as well. This is with an X3100 card. Yours would undoubtedly perform better.

        There's no need for dedicated power saving hardware support because the power use on integrated chips is so low. My nonscientific measurements say that Intel uses less power on load than discrete cards do on idle (when taking out the CPU power consumption).

        The decode engine will be exposed when Gallium3D is integrated into mesa. See: http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?pag...item&px=NzE0Mg

        For desktops where power consumption is not an issue, ATI cards are the only way I go. The OSS support for everything <= R500 is superb except for GLSL support. That will change with the rewrite work going on. Games run fine. Videos play well. Suspend/resume works. The latest kernel bits are supported. Best of all, things will only improve in the future.

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        • #5
          I've had pretty good experiences with Intel GPUs in the past year or two, only problems came when I briefly tried some of the experimental git branches.

          Considering the type of usage you describe, that GPU will be more than adequate.

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          • #6
            And where do you see something similar than vdpau for intel/ati on the horizon? He wanted that too...

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            • #7
              Thank you all for your input so far.

              I must admit that my gaming PC recently went from an ATi card to an nvidia one because of the better features and performance under Linux, but I'm in no way an nvidia fanboy. I like what works best for my needs, whomever makes it.

              Originally I'd hoped Dell would release the Studio 14z over here in the UK as it was cheap and used the GeForce 9400M G, but there's been no announcement and they made a bit of a daft design decision (soldering 1GB of RAM directly to the motherboard). So it looks like that's out the window.

              As for HD acceleration, it'd be nice but isn't essential. The highest definition thing I have is 720p and I'm fairly sure a decent Core 2 Duo can decode that in software.

              If anyone else has any advice, please feel free to chip in, oh, and if anyone does know of a "budget" range laptop which is available in the UK and has an nvidia GFX card, I'd appreciate that too ^^

              Thanks again

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              • #8
                720p software only is no problem usually, thats correct. Laptop cpus just have got lower clockspeeds, but budget desktop cpus are already able to play 1080p for less than 70 euro (like Pentium E6300). Intel onboard is definitely not a bad choice when you have got another pc for gaming. Compiz runs on it too, but please never buy it for games.

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                • #9
                  I've got a Pentium Dual Core 1.73GHz and it decodes 720p without a hassle.

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                  • #10
                    For that matter, even my old 2 GHz Dothan can manage 720p h.264/AC3 with pretty decent success.

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                    • #11
                      Thanks once again to you all for your input ^^

                      Ok, so 720p will be fine (as I assumed) and there is plans for GPU assisted decoding in the future via Gallium3D. That's 2 ticks.

                      How is performance with composited desktops such as compiz? I've not really had the chance to ever sit down and tinker with compiz, so I'm not sure if it's something I'd use on a daily basis, but it'd be nice to know that the option is there and that the 4500MHD would have the "oomph" to run it all without any slowdown. I know there's been a lot of work with DRI2 as well. Is that complete to the point where you can run an OpenGL window on a composited desktop?

                      As for gaming, I know not expect much from the Intel hardware. I've found them barely able to run WoW on the lowest settings under Windows ^^ As I already said, I have a desktop PC with a huge screen and a GTX285 for that side of things, but it would be nice to be able to play a few games on the go. I'm not talking FPS's or the like, but maybe something like the Sam & Max episodic games via WINE.

                      Sorry if anything I've asked has already been answered, I just want to be 110% sure that what I buy will do what I want. It's not like you can upgrade a laptop much =)

                      All the best.

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                      • #12
                        If you have got a few bucks left, buy a desktop system with Intel onboard video, maybe you have got a already a S775 cpu then only a board is needed. Most easy way to test speed then, that better than tests from others.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Nexx View Post
                          How is performance with composited desktops such as compiz? I've not really had the chance to ever sit down and tinker with compiz, so I'm not sure if it's something I'd use on a daily basis, but it'd be nice to know that the option is there and that the 4500MHD would have the "oomph" to run it all without any slowdown. I know there's been a lot of work with DRI2 as well. Is that complete to the point where you can run an OpenGL window on a composited desktop?
                          Not sure how well it translates, but I have an X4500HD and I haven't seen any problems with Compiz whenever I have tried it. I mostly use the compositor in Metacity. It's of the render, 2D based, variety.

                          DRI2 and OpenGL in a composited environment works very well. One of the last missing pieces was sync to vblank in DRI2, it has recently been fixed, but I think it will require Xserver 1.7?

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                          • #14
                            I'm new at these forums, so I'll first say hi!

                            As a reaction to the topic starter;

                            I didn't read all of the reactions, so I might be saying something that has been said before. However ..

                            Nvidia's proprioritary are pretty good, but atm you have some options. As people have been putting lots of work into oss drivers for intel/ati/nvidia, there are some things to be mentioned.

                            As a starter, I'm running compiz with all features running smoothly on a _i915_. I have to say though that I compile the entire X stack from git.

                            Lots of work has been going into the ati driver (by Dave Airlie, praise him) which actually makes the oss ati driver much better than the proprioritary driver (really).

                            For nvidia, you can try out the (bleeding edge) Mesa Gallium Nvidia stack, which is by now (I've tried) running much smoother that the official NVidia drivers.

                            So, in my opinion, saying that an NVidia is the best option, just is plainly wrong. It would have been half a year ago, but right now, you have tho option to choose. Do some googling and the http://dri.freedesktop.org/wiki/Mailinglists is good starter.

                            Cheers,
                            Jan

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by jteb View Post
                              I'm new at these forums, so I'll first say hi!

                              So, in my opinion, saying that an NVidia is the best option, just is plainly wrong. It would have been half a year ago, but right now, you have tho option to choose. Do some googling and the http://dri.freedesktop.org/wiki/Mailinglists is good starter.

                              Cheers,
                              Jan

                              I have a 965 chip in my thinkpad along with t9300 core2. It's great that an old Pentium 3 can play 720p, but under Kubuntu 8.10, I couldn't. The out of the box experience under Kubuntu 9.04 hasn't been great when compared to what Nvidia offers, or compared to what Intel's chips do in Windows and OS X.

                              Right now, if you want decent performance with Intel, you have to do some work to get it, and then you'll likely run into some bugs.

                              It's improving, but I think we're six months away or so from a good, hassle free experience with Intel graphics.

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