February 22, 2008 -- For the past several weeks we have been referencing AMD's "tcore" in several of our articles, which is a user-space software suite that has been developed and used internally at ATI by engineers to work on various aspects of their binary drivers. Tcore is primarily used for testing prior to the availability of the actual silicon for their forthcoming graphics processors. John Bridgman and Alex Deucher have been working tediously to get this tcore source-code sanitized and cleared for public release, and finally they have reached this milestone. AMD has just published the first bits of open-source 3D programming documentation for ATI GPUs. This 3D programming documentation covers the R500 series and even goes back with information on the R300/400 series as well. The R600 3D programming guide will also be out soon. This information available today is what will foster the growth of open-source R500/600 3D support for the Radeon and RadeonHD drivers as well as R600 2D acceleration.
February 14, 2008 -- In the 35th edition of the Nouveau Companion, these open-source 3D NVIDIA driver developers talk about being a better bug reporter, X-Video improvements, PowerPC fixes, and MMioTrace being delayed until the Linux 2.6.26 kernel. At least three Nouveau developers will be at FOSDEM 2008 next week in Brussels, Belgium.
February 13, 2008 -- Whether it is a big or small update, every month AMD releases a new Catalyst package for both Linux and Windows for their supported ATI Radeon products. Last month in the Catalyst 8.01 Linux driver the changes had just consisted of a few bug fixes and nothing more. Today the Catalyst 8.02 Linux driver has been released, and like last month, it's short on the change-log. The fglrx changes are very brief and the driver version is still in the 8.45 release stream and wasn't even bumped to 8.46.x.
February 09, 2008 -- Since last September when AMD's new open-source strategy was unveiled, their xf86-video-radeonhd driver and NDA-free documentation efforts have largely been to improve its Linux customer base. However, with this open community enablement, it has also led to an improved ATI hardware status in Sun's Solaris Operating System. Introduced in Build 80 of OpenSolaris was the RadeonHD display driver and this R500/600 driver has now appeared in Solaris Express Developer Edition 1/08 and Project Indiana Preview 2.
February 02, 2008 -- Last night NVIDIA quietly uploaded a new Linux display driver to their FTP server. This new driver is tagged 171.05, while the latest public driver has been 169.09. Having already three releases in the 169.xx series, this is a moderate update to 171.xx, but according to NVIDIA it's not for everyone. There is no official
change-log that NVIDIA has published for the 171.05 driver, and the change-log that ships with the driver hasn't been updated (whether it be intentional or not). The only word that has come out of the NVIDIA camp on this new driver is from Christian Zander and he has said that this driver is only intended for use with the Tesla S870 GPU Computing Systems. The legacy NVIDIA Linux drivers have also been updated this week.
January 31, 2008 -- At the Linux.Conf.Au conference today, Intel has announced NDA-free programming documentation covering the 965 Express and G35 Express integrated graphics processors (IGPs). Intel's display driver has long been open-source, but up until now, they have not been releasing the programming documentation for these products to the public. This move comes months after AMD announced their new open-source strategy and began releasing register documentation on their R500 and R600 GPUs. These newly released documents by Intel even cover 3D and video programming for their IGPs.
January 29, 2008 -- The public release of AMD's "tcore" sample code is imminent, thereby steering the open-source development efforts toward R600 2D acceleration and the basis of the 3D support for the RadeonHD driver. However, in somewhat of a surprise, this afternoon XAA and EXA support was added to the RadeonHD driver for the R500 series. For those that aren't X enthusiasts or Linux veterans, XAA and EXA are architectures for providing 2D graphics acceleration. With this accelerated 2D support, we have benchmarked both XAA and EXA on the xf86-video-radeonhd driver as well as with the xf86-video-ati driver and the binary fglrx driver.
January 29, 2008 -- The 34th edition of the Nouveau Companion is now available for your reading pleasure. The Nouveau crew this time around debates the issue of whether they should push a 2D-only release of the Nouveau driver out the door while continuing the 3D work, integrating MMioTrace into the mainstream kernel, the status of RandR 1.2, TV-Out support getting underway, and last but not least is the status of the Nouveau Gallium3D driver.
January 27, 2008 -- X-Plane is marketed as the "most thorough, flexible, and realistic flight simulator available for personal computers" and ships not only for Windows and Macintosh platforms but also for Linux. Laminar Research produces X-Plane and while it's currently not part of our testing suite, we recently took X-Plane v9 Beta 18 for a test flight. Previously their community leader had classified using ATI Linux drivers with X-Plane as an "unusable disaster" with "insurmountable problems", but is that really the case? We explored the situation in this article.
January 25, 2008 -- Back in June of 2005 with the ATI Linux 8.14.13 driver release was a new installer to more easily facilitate the installation of this binary graphics driver using a graphical interface for a generic setup or generating distribution-specific packages (at that time Red Hat was the only officially supported distribution). With time, this installer has evolved by gaining new features and more distributions are being supported through their --buildpkg command for generating custom driver packages. These packaging scripts are now even hosted in the open for more community interaction. With two new driver options that will be formally introduced next month in Ubuntu's packaging scripts for the Catalyst 8.02 Linux driver, the installation process of the ATI fglrx driver on Ubuntu will become several steps easier.