On the morning of April 12, 2006, Phoronix had delivered the world's first look at the Radeon X1000 series running under GNU/Linux. That day ATI Technologies had finally delivered Radeon X1000 product support for their fglrx display drivers. This support had come six months after the launch of the Radeon X1k series back in October of 2005. With the Windows Catalyst drivers having had the support for months this lack of support had caused a great deal of controversy in the GNU/Linux community. This support was also in sharp contrast to NVIDIA's same-day GNU/Linux support when the GeForce 7800GTX 256MB was released. To make a long story short, the driver support was finally there but the performance continued to be below everybody's expectations. In our ATI Radeon X1800 Linux Preview we had seen the X1800XL 256MB barely possess any advantages over the ATI X800XL, and in many of the benchmarks the X800XL had even beat out the newer card.
We routinely provide same-day ATI driver coverage pending the monthly driver releases, but today we decided to take another look at the past six releases to see how this support has evolved under GNU/Linux over this period of time. While our primary focus for this article is on the matter of gaming performance, we have also summarized the notable advancements that the drivers have made pertaining to the Radeon X1000 (R500) features.
Support for the Mobility Radeon X1800/X1600/X1400/X1300 and Radeon X1900/X1800/X1600/X1300 were added in the 8.24.8 drivers, but this inaugural X1k release had lacked critical features. This release did not contain any TV-Out support for these R500 generation cards, and there was also a bug with these drivers that prevented some 512MB cards from functioning on certain SLI-supportive motherboards. We were, however, shocked by this release as ATI was quick to support Avivo (Advanced Video In Video Out) by means of 3D accelerated video playback with the X-Video extension. CrossFire also is not supported by the fglrx drivers, nor would we expect to see this support anytime in the near future.
When the ATI fglrx 8.25.18 display drivers were introduced a month later the 512MB bug was addressed. On top of the X.Org 7.1 support in the 8.27.10 release was finally the TV-Out support for the Radeon X1000 series. However, X.Org 6.9 or newer is needed for this TV output support. Other than those mentioned changes there have been no other Radeon X1000-specific features added by the 8.24.8, 8.25.18, 8.26.18, 8.27.10, 8.28.8, or 8.29.6 display drivers. The known bugs that continue to exist is loading the X-Video extension on x86_64 machines with X.Org 6.9 or newer will create a segmentation fault with the Radeon X1000 products. Also, users with X.Org 7.1 are unable to play any video using X-Video.