AMD Radeon HD 2400PRO/2600XT Preview
Today AMD has officially released their low-end and mainstream graphics cards in the Radeon HD 2000 family, the Radeon HD 2400 and Radeon HD 2600 series respectively. While these new graphics cards should already be at your favorite retailer or presently in route, where are the Linux drivers? AMD's high-end Radeon HD 2900XT was pushed out the door in early May, but we have yet to see any official support for that or any of the graphics processors in the Radeon HD 2000 series under Linux.
Making up the Radeon HD 2400 series right now is the HD 2400PRO and the HD 2400XT, which both use the RV610 GPU and feature 40 shader units, 180 million transistors, and 256MB 64-bit memory. The Radeon HD 2400PRO has a stock operating frequency of 525MHz for its core and 400MHz for its video memory while the Radeon HD 2400XT has its core running at 700MHz with the memory doubled at 800MHz. The prices for the low-end 2400PRO and 2400XT are $59 and $79 USD respectively. These ATI/AMD cards are of course competition for the NVIDIA GeForce 8500GT.
Meanwhile, filling up the gap between the Radeon HD 2400 and the Radeon HD 2900 series is the Radeon HD 2600. Right now the card making up this series is the HD 2600XT and 2600PRO. This RV630-based graphics card comes with 120 shader units (in comparison to the 320 found on the 2900XT and the 40 found with the HD 2400 series), 4 x2 ROPs, 390 million transistors, 256MB of video memory, 128-bit video memory bus, and a core operating at 800MHz with the memory up to 1100MHz. There is also a GDDR3 and GDDR4 version of the Radeon HD 2600XT. The price for this creation is only $149 USD.
The Radeon HD 2400 and Radeon HD 2600 series graphics cards do of course support the ATI MultiGPU CrossFire technology as well as DirectX 10 support, but these features really only apply to Microsoft Windows users. Other features include a Unified Video Decoder, HDMI with built-in HD audio controller, OpenGL 2.0 support, and Avivo HD technology.
We have been telling you that AMD has been working on Linux display drivers for the R600 series since this past January at least. We seen signs of the Radeon HD 2000 (or at the time, X2000) support going back to the 8.33.6 display driver, but we still have yet to receive any official support. It doesn't look like the Radeon HD 2000 series support will come incredibly soon but hopefully it will make it out the door by August or September, which is yet another delay that frustrated ATI Linux users will have to face. Perhaps AMD is waiting on delivering the new and improved OpenGL fglrx driver before enabling the R600 series support. Whatever the case may be internally, once the drivers are made publicly available we will be here with the benchmarks from Linux and the Radeon HD 2400, HD 2600, and HD 2900 series. As far as open-source support goes, the Avivo Driver will ultimately contain support for the Radeon HD 2000 series. However, at this stage the developers are only working on the R500 series support.
For comparison, NVIDIA's Linux and Solaris display drivers have supported the NVIDIA GeForce 8 series for some time. There had been a beta Linux driver available within a few days of the launch of the GeForce 8800GTS and 8800GTX and another driver out within a few days of the GeForce 8500 and 8600 availability. When it comes to the hardware, the new Radeon HD 2400 and Radeon HD 2600 cards look very nice and are priced very well, however, without Linux support these cards are just useless to those who exclusively use Linux.
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