For months now Linux users have been battered with driver releases that have really equated to be nothing more than maintenance releases. These releases have just fixed a small number of bugs and in some cases, the driver did more harm than good if you were plagued by the watermark issue, broken X-Video playback support, or one of the other problems. Throughout this time the driver continued with its performance imbalance and no AIGLX support for Beryl and Compiz, which had even led us to dubbing the 8.40.4 driver the "One Bug A Day Keeps AIGLX Away" release. At the same time we've been telling you that AMD has been working steadfast to deliver a brand new Linux driver later in the year.
While many thought this day would never come or that it was some form of propaganda, it's coming and it's coming this month. The AMD fglrx 8.41 driver features a brand new underlying code-base that has been under development for well over a year. At Phoronix we have literally spent hundreds of hours using and testing this new driver, and to say the least it is truly a new experience on the ATI Linux front. The new driver delivers massive performance improvements, Radeon HD 2000 (R600) support, and a whole lot more. This article is the first of five articles that will be published today at Phoronix as we examine the new AMD Linux driver extensively on all fronts from seeing how it can handle the flagship ATI Radeon HD 2900XT graphics card to going back to past graphics card families to show the dramatic performance improvements.
Four of our articles today are looking at the new fglrx driver while the fifth one is looking at what's possibly coming down the pipeline soon. In this article, we will just be sharing the facts about this new driver and what exactly you can expect to see. In the other articles today we will be looking at the performance in the Radeon X800 "R400", Radeon X1000 "R500", and Radeon HD 2000 "R600" series. While we recommend you read all of our articles, the reason for all of these articles today is that there are clear performance improvements all across the board. Whether you are using a Radeon X300 purchased a few years ago or the Radeon X1950PRO, the 8.41 driver is noticeably faster. How much faster? In many cases it is about 50% faster while in some configurations it may go as high as 90% or more. In fact, in some benchmarks the Mobility Radeon X300 was over 10x faster! But you will need to read all of the articles to find out all of the details. This news is especially gratifying seeing as over the past sixteen months there really have been no major performance improvements, as is highlighted in The ATI R500 On Linux: Then & Now.
Accompanying this new proprietary driver announcement, AMD will be making another very special announcement in the near future. Stay tuned for the Phoronix article on that event.