After ATI's successful launch last month of the fglrx 8.26.18 drivers, which had delivered an external events daemon (atieventsd) and more, it is now time for us to discuss the changes in the newly released 8.27.10 Linux display drivers. Of the changes in this release include X11R7.1 support, Fedora Core packaging scripts, and Radeon X1000 TV-out support. As always, we have all of the details to share in our ATI fglrx 8.27.10 driver examination. For those that had missed it, earlier this week Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) had announced a merger with ATI Technologies for $5.4 Billion USD. This acquisition should increase the level of competitiveness between manufacturers both in the CPU arena as well as on the graphics forefront. We had sought comments from ATI's Linux department as whether this deal would have any impact on their driver development, but at this time, it is simply not known.
Getting back on track with fglrx 8.27.10... First and foremost, ATI has beat NVIDIA to supporting X.Org v7.1 in their proprietary drivers. X.Org v7.1 is supported in the fglrx 8.27.10 drivers except for the GLX_EXT_texture_from_pixmap extension. This OpenGL extension allows a color buffer to be used for both rendering and texturing, and is needed for AIGLX. We would not expect to see this extension supported by fglrx for at least a couple more months. X11R7.2 is already planned for release later this year. For reference, NVIDIA likely will not be delivering their 1.0-9XXX drivers with X11R7.1 support until August or September of this year. NVIDIA's drivers are expected, however, to support GLX_EXT_texture_from_pixmap. Another note about the X.Org 7.1 support is that X-Video with X1k products will not work, but it should be corrected in future releases.
Another awaited feature has been TV-out support with the Radeon X1k series. This support is finally here with the 8.27.10 drivers. To use TV-out on any Radeon X1000 product, X.Org v6.9 or later is required. Along with this Radeon X1000 TV-out support, for both X1000 and non-X1000 users, a --tv-geometry option has been added to aticonfig. This option is for better handling various specifications for TV video. Of course, we did not let this new support and option escape us without extensively trying it out. The --tv-geometry option allows options for width, height, and pixel shifting right and down of center. An example configuration would be aticonfig --tv-geometry=85x90-10. Trying out the TV-out support with multiple X1000 solutions, we hadn't run into any issues. The dynamic display options using --query-monitor and --enable-monitor had continued to work flawlessly. Still the dynamic display management options have yet to be officially mentioned in the release notes, but we should see it coming next month in the 8.28 drivers along with other mobile improvements. ATI's fglrx TV-out also supports runtime switching of the TV format (i.e. NTSC, PAL), and TV overscan can also be enabled/disabled from aticonfig.
One of the changes we have been looking forward to since the 8.24.8 display driver is packaging improvements for Fedora Core. Well, for all the Fedora users using the proprietary drivers out there, the 8.27.10 driver release is for you. The installer supports generating RPMs for Fedora Core 3/4/5 and both i386 and x86_64. Be forewarned, however, there still may be a few issues in the x86_64 packages when using 32-bit OpenGL libraries. Also when generating the RPMs, the ATI PowerPlay ACPI scripts have been bundled as well. When using these packages in a mobile environment as the laptop lid is closed or unplugged from the AC adapter, PowerPlay will instantly clock the GPU down to the lowest power-state. Presently there is no packaging support for Fedora Core 6 with the test releases; however, that should hopefully come in time for the official October launch. These packages will also enable ATI External Events Daemon by default. One rant about the drivers is that it does rely upon system-config-display with the fglrx options, rather than simply using aticonfig. If anyone runs into problems with the Fedora scripts, please post them on the unofficial ATI BugZilla and on the Phoronix Forums. Red Flag Linux support for 8.27.10 was removed at the last minute, but we can expect to see this distribution added in the next release.
One of the finer details about the packaging scripts for Fedora Core 5 and other distributions is that they are largely community written. ATI does allow distribution vendors and other GNU/Linux users to submit fglrx packaging scripts for inclusion with the official drivers. As of the 8.27.10 drivers the distributions with these scripts include Debian, Fedora, Mandriva, Red Flag (pending), Red Hat, SuSE, and Ubuntu. If you're interested in packaging for other distributions, have the distribution vendor contact ATI or to post on the Phoronix Forums for additional information.
Some of the fixes in fglrx 8.27.10 include adding Locked_user_pages support for x86_64 systems, rendering issues with the OpenGL-based Java2D pipeline, excessive lag between input and output especially with sync-to-vblack, and addressing an XGL related startup problem. The packaging scripts for SuSE have also been updated in this 8.27.10 release. There still is no further word on the status of R200 products with these drivers.