On October 25, 2006 Advanced Micro Devices had announced that it had completed its acquisition of ATI Technologies. This deal is expected to drive new innovations with this processing powerhouse. AMD Fusion in 2008/2009 is one example of what we can expect to see; Fusion is the codename for the x86 processor with a CPU and GPU at the silicon level. Since AMD and ATI had publicly announced their intent to merge this summer there have also been speculations flying around as to how this will change their fglrx display drivers. There have even been reports that AMD is strongly considering opening the source code to the display drivers or at least major portions of the code. The leading issues with their drivers are the low performance when compared to their Windows Catalyst driver, AIGLX support, and simply the drivers being closed-source. At least there are adequate R200/300 open-source drivers available for non-X1000 hardware, which cannot be said for ATI's largest discrete competitor with no comparable open-source 3D drivers. Today ATI is pushing out their first fglrx display driver release since the completion of this acquisition. This is the October 2006 display driver, which is coming on the last day of the month. In this article we have all of the details and performance metrics for the ATI fglrx 8.30.3 display driver.
With last Wednesday's announcement, ATI's website as a result has experienced a radical makeover. It is now, well, very green. With the 8.30.3 display driver release there are not any noticeable changes brought on by AMD at this point. The driver is still labeled ATI at this time -- despite rumors of the elimination of the brand. As to the swirl of speculations as to whether AMD will open-source the drivers, the fglrx 8.30.3 drivers have not seen this. Earlier this month when Joe Brockmeier (of Linux.com) was reporting on the release of Portland 1.0, he had claimed that there is confirmation that ATI is now going in the direction of "opening up its capabilities for video drivers.” Meanwhile our friend Stephen Shankland of CNET News had reported in August that ATI has no plans to make these drivers open-source. At Phoronix we are going to remain mute on the matter until any official public announcements are made, but on the Phoronix Forums there have been many people sharing their thoughts and opinions on the topic.
Getting back on track with our ATI Linux driver examination routine, there are no new features or major advancements with the 8.30.3 release. There are, however, a few resolved issues. Most notably the fglrx 8.30.3 drivers now allow X-Video support when using X.Org 7.1. Unfortunately, the x86_64 issue with X-Video on X.Org 6.9 and newer versions remain. A new policy layer is in place, which should correct some issues with using the automatic installation option (for those interested README.distro contains additional information). Another fix making its way into the 8.30.3 drivers is a fix for the video slowdown due to tearing and --tv-info should now provide the proper TV format information. The ATI Radeon X1950 and X1650XT series should also work under Linux in this driver release. For Fedora Core 6 users, the packaging scripts have been updated to support FC6 Zod. It is no longer necessary to modify the packaging scripts manually or to use the Redblog patch. If you run into any Fedora 6 issues with the ATI 8.30.3 drivers, please stop by the Phoronix Forums. The SuSE packaging scripts have also been updated. Unfortunately, there has been no word yet when the fglrx drivers will support AIGLX.