1. Computers
  2. Display Drivers
  3. Graphics Cards
  4. Memory
  5. Motherboards
  6. Processors
  7. Software
  8. Storage
  9. Operating Systems


Facebook RSS Twitter Twitter Google Plus


Phoronix Test Suite

OpenBenchmarking Benchmarking Platform
Phoromatic Test Orchestration

ATI Radeon CrossFire On Linux

Michael Larabel

Published on 20 August 2008
Written by Michael Larabel
Page 1 of 10 - 18 Comments

Back in June we had exclusively shared that CrossFire would be coming to Linux as part of their Radeon HD 4800 series strategy. CrossFire (or CrossFire X as it's now known) allows the graphics rendering workload to be split between multiple Radeon GPUs to deliver faster performance. Meanwhile, NVIDIA's multi-GPU technology known as SLI (Scalable Link Interface) has been supported on Linux since 2005. While AMD is still working to address some issues with their ATI Linux driver, they have been working hard on new features like CrossFire. How does this feature work though on Linux and does it deliver similar performance gains to their Windows driver? Today we have a full rundown on ATI CrossFire for Linux along with benchmarks from the ATI Radeon HD 4850 and Radeon HD 4870.

This multi-GPU technology from ATI was originally introduced in 2005 but the current CrossFire X generation was introduced last year in conjunction with the AMD 790FX Chipset. It was in February of this year when we privately learned ATI CrossFire would be coming to Linux, but prior to that we didn't even think AMD would invest in bringing this technology to Linux. It was just a year ago that their Linux driver had performed rather poorly until they had introduced their new OpenGL driver with Radeon HD 2000 series support and their long-overdue AIGLX support. Since then they have begun delivering impressive improvements and have started delivering same-day support for new graphics cards. It's been an interesting time for AMD on Linux while running along side these efforts are their open-source activities with providing NDA-free documentation and sponsoring the development of two open-source X.Org drivers (xf86-video-ati and xf86-video-radeonhd).

When NVIDIA had introduced Scalable Link Interface on Linux three years ago it presented its own set of challenges. SLI required running the OpenGL program at the resolution of the X Server otherwise there would be no performance gains, setting an environmental variable prior to running the id Software games to initialize SLI, a few different bugs with the AFR (Alternate Frame Rendering) and SFR (Split Frame Rendering) modes, and the performance gains at that time weren't all that great. Fortunately, since then NVIDIA has ironed out most of the bugs with their Linux SLI implementation. Our last SLI testing article was last fall as we looked at the performance of NVIDIA SLI on Linux and Windows. At that time, the GeForce 8 series was plagued by performance problems on Linux even when running in a single-card configuration. In some of those tests, even when running Linux SLI its performance was half that of a single graphics card on Windows XP. NVIDIA has since corrected the performance issues associated with these newer GPUs (aside from their 2D problems) and SLI is able to deliver modest gains.

We have been using the CrossFire-supportive driver for the past couple of weeks and have experienced promising results. There are a few rough edges with this initial CrossFire Linux implementation, but for the most part it has been a pleasant experience with phenomenal results. These areas for improvement revolve around the enabling of CrossFire, managing the CrossFire setup, and a few rendering bugs while using CrossFire. On the following pages we will share more on our CrossFire experience.

Latest Linux News
  1. NVIDIA's Proprietary Driver Is Moving Closer With Kernel Mode-Setting
  2. The Latest Linux Kernel Git Code Fixes The EXT4 RAID0 Corruption Problem
  3. Features Added To Mesa 10.6 For Open-Source GPU Drivers
  4. Ubuntu's LXD vs. KVM For The Linux Cloud
  5. Fedora Server 22 Benchmarks With XFS & The Linux 4.0 Kernel
  6. GCC 6 Gets Support For The IBM z13 Mainframe Server
  7. Fedora 22 Is Being Released Next Tuesday
  8. OpenWRT 15.05 Preparing Improved Security & Better Networking
  9. Using The New LLVM/Clang OpenMP Support
  10. Zapcc Claims To Be A "Much Faster C++ Compiler"
Latest Articles & Reviews
  1. Btrfs RAID 0/1 Benchmarks On The Linux 4.1 Kernel
  2. The State Of Various Firefox Features
  3. Intel Iris Graphics Performance With Mesa 10.6
  4. Fedora Workstation 22 Is Looking Great, Running Fantastic
Most Viewed News This Week
  1. The Linux 4.0 Kernel Currently Has An EXT4 Corruption Issue
  2. The Linux 4.0 EXT4 RAID Corruption Bug Has Been Uncovered
  3. AMDGPU Open-Source Driver Code Continues Maturing
  4. Oculus Rift Suspends Linux Development To Focus On Windows
  5. Microsoft Open-Sources The Windows Communication Foundation
  6. Another HTTPS Vulnerability Rattles The Internet
  7. LibreOffice 5.0 Open-Source Office Suite Has Been Branched
  8. Systemd 220 Has Finally Been Released