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AMD FireGL V8600 On Linux

Michael Larabel

Published on 19 May 2008
Written by Michael Larabel
Page 6 of 9 - 15 Comments

Unfortunately, AMD has yet to release GPU sensor documentation to assist the LM_Sensors project in being able to read the card's sensors under Linux and they have yet to integrate any sensor reading capabilities within the fglrx driver itself. With that said, we are unable to provide any GPU or PCB thermal results for this graphics card due to these current Linux limitations. When it comes to the noise generated by the FireGL V8600, however, it isn't too loud. The V8600/V8650 heatpipe cooling system is massive, but the fan speed is dynamically controlled based upon the load (even under Linux) and it will adjust accordingly. The graphics card cooler is very quiet when just within GNOME and when firing up an OpenGL application the noise will increase some but still very tolerable especially in multi-processor systems.

While most aren't interested in PowerPlay -- the ATI power management technology for adjusting the voltage and GPU/memory frequencies -- for desktop GPUs, we had tested this feature as part of our normal testing process. With the fglrx 8.47.3 driver, PowerPlay hadn't worked as intended. Due to an apparent bug, there were 427 power states reported and the core/memory frequencies were all incorrect (i.e. 0/1362171 MHz). Sadly, graphics cards cannot yet operate at 42781901/7353684 MHz -- let alone at a low-voltage state reported by PowerPlay. AMD has been notified of this issue.

The FireGL series is certified for with AMD's stream computing, but this technology currently isn't available on Linux. However, AMD's Stream SDK is soon coming to Linux.

When reviewing the NVIDIA Quadro FX1700 512MB back in March, we had compared its workstation OpenGL performance on Windows, Linux, and Solaris. To see how truly up to par the ATI Linux driver is on the workstation front, we are doing a similar comparison with the FireGL V8600. However, as AMD provides no proprietary driver for Solaris (though there is the emerging RadeonHD driver on Solaris), our platform tests were limited to Windows and Linux. We had used Windows Vista Ultimate 32-bit over Windows XP due to out-of-the-box compatibility issues with Windows XP and the NVIDIA nForce Professional 3600 motherboard. On the Linux side was, as aforementioned, Ubuntu 8.04 LTS 32-bit. The Windows driver used was the Vista FireGL 8.453.1 driver with OpenGL version 6.14.10.7165.

In addition to the Linux versus Windows FireGL comparison, we have also included benchmarks from an ATI Radeon HD 3870 on Ubuntu 8.04 with the same system. This comparison shows how the Radeon and FireGL series compare under Linux in workstation environments. For all of today's testing we had used SPECViewPerf 9.0.3 on the respective platforms, as SPECViewPerf 10 still isn't available for Linux/UNIX.

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