Introducing The RadeonHD Linux Driver
Not only is AMD providing the open-source community with their ATI GPU specifications, but they have also been partnering with Novell on the development of a new open-source display driver. We've been telling you about AMD's open-source work all month, and today the new driver is finally available for download. It is still very much a work in progress and isn't much further along than the open-source R500 Avivo driver. However, this new driver does support the Radeon HD 2000 (R600) family. This new X.Org driver is called RadeonHD and in this article we have some initial information to share with additional articles coming later in the day.
To no real surprise, the RadeonHD driver is hosted over at FreeDesktop.org and you can checkout the latest code using git. In another article we are publishing today, we will be telling you how to install this new open-source driver on Ubuntu 7.10 Gutsy Gibbon -- that is for those of you who aren't familiar with using git or building drivers from source. If you haven't already, you'll also want to read AMD's Open-Source Strategy Explained.
The RadeonHD driver is largely being written by Novell/SuSE and they have been writing it for the past couple of weeks using the same documentation that was released freely to the open-source community last week. Novell developers will continue contributing to the RadeonHD driver as well. The specifications available to the community so far are just register reference guides for the RV630 and M56, but AMD will be releasing additional documentation (including for 3D functionality) once the documents are sanitized and then cleared by their legal department.
Don't expect any miracles from this driver just yet. At this point, the RadeonHD driver is really targeted for developers and those wanting to use the experimental driver whether it is due to problems using the fglrx driver on the system or just wishing to test out the driver to see if it works for you. As long as AMD sticks to their word on delivering the rest of their documentation, there will not be too much (if any) reverse engineering that needs to take place for the R500 and R600 series. However, the driver is still likely a few months out from a stable point for 2D users (perhaps in time for X.Org 7.4) and then the 3D work after that. Granted, depending upon how many X.Org community members end up contributing and the rate at which AMD pushes out new documentation, the timeline will certainly change. You can see comments by some of the known X.Org video driver developers in this article.
The availability today of the RadeonHD driver is certainly a step in the right direction, but there is much work left to be accomplished with this new open-source ATI/AMD driver. We will be publishing additional articles once we have had more time to check out and test the xf86-video-radeonhd driver, but in the mean time go check out the code and post what you think about the driver in the Phoronix Forums. While a RadeonHD mailing list will be established shortly, you can also visit the #radeonhd IRC channel on Freenode.
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