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.org

An Open-Source Radeon HD 4670? Sort Of.

Michael Larabel

Published on 16 September 2008
Written by Michael Larabel
Page 1 of 1 - 24 Comments

When the Radeon HD 4850 and Radeon HD 4870 were introduced earlier this year, it was wonderful. These latest high-end graphics cards from ATI had same-day Linux support through their Catalyst driver and the open-source ATI drivers had "just worked" with the RV770 series. The mode-setting support with the xf86-video-ati and xf86-video-radeonhd drivers just required adding in the PCI IDs for these new PCI Express graphics cards and then the rest of the magic was provided by AtomBIOS. However, with the introduction of the Radeon HD 4600 series, not everything is working instantly with the open-source drivers.

The kind folks at Sapphire Technology had sent out the ATI Radeon HD 4670 graphics card upon its release. The Radeon HD 4670 retails well under $100 USD and has 512MB of GDDR3 memory with a 128-bit interface. Its RV730 core operates at 750MHz and the memory is running at 1000MHz. We will have our full review on the Sapphire Radeon HD 4670 in the near future, but for now we just want to share its open-source status.

We were successful in using the Radeon HD 4850 with an open driver and HD 4870 since most of the architectural changes between the R600 and RV770 are hidden behind the AtomBIOS interface. AtomBIOS is the video BIOS abstraction layer that was designed by ATI and has been implemented within their graphics cards since the R400 series. AtomBIOS itself isn't open-source but their parser is available and most recently they had released a new version. The xf86-video-ati driver has been using AtomBIOS since last year when they decided to add support for the R500/600 series, while it wasn't until July when the RadeonHD driver finally and fully adopted AtomBIOS under pressure from AMD.

With there being more changes from the R600 to RV770 compared to the RV770 to RV730, we expected the Radeon HD 4670 too would "just work" with AtomBIOS and the open-source drivers, but this wasn't the case. After adding in the Radeon HD 4670 PCI ID (0x9490) and rebuilding the driver, it hadn't worked when using a DVI display. The RadeonHD driver wasn't able to output a signal but with the ATI driver it had outputted a signal but the screen remained black. Switching though to using a 1280 x 1024 LCD panel with a VGA interface, both drivers had then successfully worked.

The open-source ATI developers have yet to receive the Radeon HD 4650 or Radeon HD 4670 graphics cards, but we have supplied them with a copy of the video BIOS and verbose logs. There are some display controller changes on the RV730 with the output blocks, but in theory, AtomBIOS should have concealed the differences. Ideally, we will see support for the new RV730 digital output blocks in the near future. For those interested in full 3D support, CrossFire, OverDrive, and other advanced features will need to use AMD's Catalyst driver for Linux. Catalyst 8.9 to be released this month will officially support the Radeon HD 4600 series.

About The Author
Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the web-site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience and being the largest web-site devoted to Linux hardware reviews, particularly for products relevant to Linux gamers and enthusiasts but also commonly reviewing servers/workstations and embedded Linux devices. Michael has written more than 10,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics hardware drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated testing software. He can be followed via and or contacted via .
Latest Linux Hardware Reviews
  1. A Walkthrough Of The New 32 System Open-Source Linux Benchmarking Test Farm
  2. Habey MITX-6771: Mini-ITX Board With Quad-Core J1900 Bay Trail
  3. OCZ Vector 150 SSD On Linux
  4. Noctua i4 CPU Cooler: Great For Cooling High-End LGA-2011v3 CPUs
Latest Linux Articles
  1. AMD Kaveri: Open-Source Radeon Gallium3D vs. Catalyst 14.12 Omega Driver
  2. 12-Way AMD Catalyst 14.12 vs. NVIDIA 346 Series Linux GPU Comparison
  3. AMD Catalyst 14.12 Omega Driver Brings Mixed Results For Linux Users
  4. 6-Way Winter 2014 Linux Distribution Comparison
Latest Linux News
  1. Server-Side XCB Is Being Discussed For The X.Org Server
  2. Adreno A4xx Rendering With Freedreno Takes Shape
  3. Linux 3.19-rc1 Kernel Released Ahead Of Schedule
  4. Civilization: Beyond Earth Linux GPU/Driver Benchmarks
  5. X.Org Server 1.16.3 Released To Fix Security Issues
  6. Linux 3.19 Merge Window Closes Ahead Of Schedule
  7. MIPS R6 Architecture Now Supported By GCC
  8. LowRISC To Feature Tagged Memory & Minion Cores
  9. Intel Skylake Audio Support For Linux 3.19
  10. After 10+ Years, NetworkManager Reaches v1.0
Latest Forum Discussions
  1. FPS capped on Linux (AMD fglrx drivers)
  2. Speeding up systemd networking service
  3. Need some hand holding with upgrading xserver
  4. Are there an app using HSA ?
  5. The New SuperTuxKart Looks Better, But Can Cause GPU/Driver Problems
  6. XLennart: A Game For Systemd Haters With Nothing Better To Do
  7. Updated and Optimized Ubuntu Free Graphics Drivers
  8. Debian init discussion in Phoenix Wright format