There is nothing like starting the week off with a bang as ATI delivers the Windows CATALYST 6.6 and fglrx 8.26.18 Linux display drivers. Yes, the ATI drivers are shipping on a Monday compared against their usual Wednesday routine. After last month's belated 8.25.18 release, these new drivers were originally scheduled to ship on June 7; however, there was a delay on the Windows CATALYST side followed by a second delay bringing it to today. However, the ATI Linux drivers are bringing a fair amount of changes to the table as they had done last month with a host of fixes and other improvements. At Phoronix we have our usual details to share about this fglrx release as well as our traditional performance take.
Some of the changes in the fglrx 8.26.18 release include updated install scripts for Debian/Ubuntu/SuSE, added support for some missing cards (such as the 9600 and 9100 IGP), improve OpenGL display list performance on Radeon cards, X.Org 7 creates symlinks in /usr/X11R6/lib/modules/dri to ATI files in /usr/lib/dri, and shortened the list of packages visible in the generate package menu to Red Hat and SuSE (additional packages can still be generated from the command-line installer flags). ATI Control Panel will also now report the current desktop setup. MaxGARTSize option has also been added to configure the ATI GART size.
Another change includes different xconf section identifiers. Issues resolved consist of BusIDs only being used for dual-head mode with aticonfig, Option "(null)" is removed from aticonfig, and with the ATI Control Panel the BIOS version and renderer should no longer be cut off.
One of the notable features for the driver is adding an external events daemon "atieventsd" for providing hotkey display switching, DFP hotplug, and thermal event power management. The daemon for hotkey display switching is currently only for IBM/Lenovo laptops. The thermal event power management will automatically implement PowerPlay if the GPU die temperature exceeds a pre-defined threshold, which will then down-clock the GPU/memory frequencies and voltage until the temperature returns to safe levels. We had asked ATI about the possibility of having the end-user monitor the GPU die temperature; however, with this current implementation the switching is controlled through the video BIOS. A --set-policy option has been added to aticonfig in order to adjust the atieventsd switching policies.
One of the undocumented changes we had noticed with the 8.26 drivers was when listing the ATI PowerPlay states using a desktop chip the "overdrive" flag is now listed. Could this possibly mean that ATI Linux Overdrive (video card overclocking) is to come soon?
$ aticonfig --lsp
* 1: 594/693 MHz [overdrive, default state]
One of the very heated issues that was introduced into the fglrx 8.25.18 display drivers was the broken support for the Radeon R200 family. Though a workaround is available, many in the community have been frustrated by this problem. Well, the R200 OpenGL API entry-point issue still has not been resolved in the 8.26.18 release. ATI Technologies is continuing to investigate the issue; however, there is no word yet when they anticipate a fix. ATI will address the issue with a knowledge base article. Another feature that has yet to appear is TV-out support for the Radeon X1000 products. Originally the TV-out X1k support was supposed to come last month. When the TV-out support comes (hopefully next month) for the Radeon X1000 series X.Org v6.9 or newer will be required.
X.Org 7.1 is not supported with the 8.26.18 drivers; however, we do anticipate that the support will come very soon. Likewise, XFree86 4.1 and 4.2 support were removed in this release. One of the features that isn't officially endorsed in the 8.26.18 drivers is dynamic display management options. We had initially mentioned the dynamic display management options in the 8.25.18 release, which allows the dynamic toggling of display devices through aticonfig. ATI is not expected to officially announce or support this feature until the August 8.28.x drivers. Another item we had also pointed out is the TexturedVideo option is now usable for non-X1000 parts through altering the xorg.conf. We welcome those that have tried out these undocumented features to provide feedback on the options in our forums.