Back in September when the RadeonHD Linux driver was finally introduced, it offered support for both the R500 and R600 series. On the first day of the driver's availability, we couldn't help but to use the RadeonHD with the 2900XT, which has been ATI's flagship graphics card. While this xf86-video-radeonhd driver still doesn't support 3D, it was a glorious sight seeing an open-source driver working with this high-end ATI graphics card. Today David Airlie announced that the Radeon driver would be supporting the ATI R500/600 series (the announcement). David Airlie and Alex Deucher had been working on an AtomBIOS branch of the Radeon driver in xf86-video-ati, and this morning it finally went public.
3D support will hopefully be coming soon for the R500 series with the Radeon driver, while so far they have XAA/EXA and RandR 1.2 working with these new ATI GPU families. The Radeon HD 2000 series will also have 3D support through the Radeon driver but it will come later as the R600 3D engine is an entirely different beast. However, the great news to report today is that the xf86-video-ati driver is functioning with the ATI Radeon HD 2900XT! Alas no 3D support or anything, but the R600 graphics card is detected and functioning with this new AtomBIOS driver branch.
If you want to try out the Radeon graphics driver with your R500 or R600 graphics card, below are the steps. These steps are similar to the installation instructions for installing the RadeonHD driver. The xf86-video-ati testing with the ATI 2900XT was done using Ubuntu 7.10 "Gutsy Gibbon". Once the AtomBIOS support enters the master branch (though not for a while), the "git-checkout" step will no longer be needed.
sudo apt-get install build-essential git-core configure-debian automake autoconf xorg-dev libtool libpciaccess-dev libdrm-dev mesa-common-dev
./autogen.sh --prefix=/usr/; make; sudo make install
After that, until Composite/AIGLX is supported, you need to disable them in your /etc/X11/xorg.conf. In the device section of your xorg.conf you need to set the driver to radeon. Following all of this, restart X and it should be working. If you're using an R500 GPU, you can also check out r500-support from DRM.
Option "Composite" "Off"
Option "AIGLX" "Off"
If you run into problems or would like to share your experiences with either the Radeon or RadeonHD drivers, be sure to stop by the Phoronix Forums.