When looking over these results, in some of the less demanding benchmarks the Radeon HD 2900XT wasn't much faster than the Radeon X1800XT. However, the HD 2900XT quickly separated itself from the rest of the pact with the more graphics-intensive settings. The AMD Radeon HD 2900XT 512MB was able to run at about 92 frames per second with Quake 4 at 1680 x 1050 with high quality settings. If this R600 support were with the old OpenGL component, the game likely wouldn't have even been playable. The Radeon HD 2900XT had sharply outperformed the overclocked GeForce 8600GT, which also wouldn't have been possible with the old fglrx driver. While we hadn't included any GeForce 8800 series results in this article, based upon our past experience with the G80 series, the Radeon HD 2900XT is a sharp contender against the GeForce 8800GTS 640MB and GeForce 8800GTX under Linux. However, at this time NVIDIA is facing some performance struggles of their own with the GeForce 8 series under Linux.
The Radeon HD 2900XT is shining bright under Linux, but its support is coming four months late. It's not as bad as waiting six months like we had with the R500 series, but NVIDIA has been delivering same-day Linux, FreeBSD, and Solaris drivers for many of their new graphics processors. Granted, the immediate GeForce 8 driver support had caused some nasty bugs and other issues with NVIDIA engineers still addressing the performance problem. Now that AMD has moved to this new Linux driver, perhaps the wait for Linux support on the R700 series will not be as long.
Thanks to the new driver, the Radeon HD 2900XT 512MB offers the best price/performance ratio of any high-end graphics card under Linux. The Radeon HD 2900XT 512MB costs roughly $400 USD where as the GeForce 8800GTX 768MB is in excess of $520 USD. Aside from the gaming performance, this graphics card features stunning graphics capabilities and handles video playback very well. Based upon what we have seen with the R600 under Linux in the past month of internal use, the experience using the fglrx 8.41 driver should be free of any major bugs. HDMI on the HD 2900XT will also work via the included DVI to HDMI dongle. Any bugs that do come up should hopefully be fixed promptly in the monthly fglrx driver updates.
While many of you have had problems with ATI/AMD in the past, with this new driver we express a vote of full confidence in the latest work by AMD's Graphics Products Group and encourage all of you to at least try out this new driver. The Linux driver announcement today and another announcement in the near future shows AMD's serious dedication to the long-term support of the Linux platform.
We do have a number of additional Radeon HD 2000 series articles in the works including our results from the Radeon HD 2400 and HD 2600 series. Tell us what you think about the R600 series on Linux in the Phoronix Forums.