AMD has just released its first official Catalyst driver update for the new year. AMD had delivered several key improvements to their proprietary Linux driver stack last year as we shared in our AMD Linux 2008 Year in Review, but what's there to get excited about in Catalyst 9.1? Well, first and foremost there is improved Composite support during video playback, Hybrid CrossFire support, and a number of fixes. Oh, and there's also OpenGL 3.0 support!
Video playback support for Composite is a feature many users have sought after with the Catalyst driver. This should allow for better video playback (without flickering) when playing in a composited environment. Discussions surrounding this support have already been discussed in the Phoronix Forums after Catalyst 9.1 was leaked onto the Internet last month.
The second big feature in Catalyst 9.1 for Linux is support for Hybrid CrossFire. CrossFire support for up to two discrete graphics cards was delivered last year but it had not supported this hybrid option. Hybrid CrossFire allows splitting the rendering workload between a supported AMD integrated graphics processor and an AMD discrete graphics card. This feature can be especially useful in lower-end systems. Right now the RS780 IGP Chipset is supportive of Hybrid CrossFire on Linux. MultiView is also officially supported in Catalyst 9.1 for Linux.
The other significant feature of this release is the full OpenGL 3.0 support. The Catalyst 9.1 driver for Linux now supports ARB_framebuffer_object, ARB_half_float_vertex, ARB_texture_rg, EXT_texture_array, EXT_texture_integer, EXT_transform_feedback, NV_conditional_render, GLX_create_context, ARB_color_buffer_float, ARB_vertex_array_object, EXT_draw_buffers2, and there is GLSL 1.30 support. The proprietary NVIDIA driver for Linux has already supported OpenGL 3.0 / GLSL 1.30, but none of the open-source X.Org drivers for Linux implement this latest multi-platform graphics API.
Some of the fixes in this release include the AMD Catalyst Control Center for Linux Edition showing incorrect version information and incorrect bus type being reported, fixed corruption in some environments, dual-head mode with Composite enabled initialization fix, a system hang fix when playing Quake 4, and failing to load libatiadlxx.so library when using OverDrive. There is also support for OpenGL active, passive, and auto stereo modes. Many Catalyst driver packaging scripts have also been updated such as those for Ubuntu, Fedora, SuSE, Slackware, and Mandriva.