The 42nd edition of the Nouveau Companion is now available to provide an update on the status of this community project to provide an open-source 2D/3D driver for all of NVIDIA's graphics hardware. Covered in this developer update is the status of the Nouveau driver on newer NVIDIA hardware, work underway on NV20 Gallium3D code, the LLVM back-end for Gallium3D progressing, the work that's left on kernel mode-setting support, and the GEM / TTM memory management work. The lack of a stabilized memory manager for the Nouveau kernel mode-setting driver is what's postponing a stable 2D driver release.
One of the common complaints about the ATI Catalyst Linux driver is slow 2D performance, but is this really the case? Does AMD's binary-only Linux driver have 2D performance issues that could actually make it run slower than the open-source driver developed by the X.Org community through specifications released by AMD? In this article we have run a total of 28 benchmarks looking squarely at the 2D performance between the Catalyst (fglrx) driver and the xf86-video-ati (Radeon) drivers on Ubuntu Linux.
Just a little more than a week after AMD openly released R600/700 GPU code to begin development of an open-source 3D driver for their ATI Radeon HD 2000/3000/4000 hardware, a disassembler and table dumper for their video BIOS abstraction layer has been released to developers. This tool called AtomDis was used early on in the development of the RadeonHD driver by Novell and is now being released under the GNU GPLv2 license to assist interested open-source developers or act as an instrument to those learning about graphics processor programming.
On Monday AMD released the open-source R600/700 3D code to begin fostering the development of an open-source 3D driver for their newer ATI hardware while the related programming documentation still on the way. This code that's finally out in the public domain brings basic EXA acceleration and X-Video support, but on the 3D side there isn't any usable OpenGL support. It is expected that there will be a modest level of open-source 3D support for the ATI R600 and R700 series in the first half of 2008 for end-users, but for now there is just the DRM code and an r600_demo program. In this article we are taking a brief look at this r600_demo debugging utility on the RV770 hardware.
Since earlier this year we have been waiting for AMD to release documentation and/or code on the ATI R600 series concerning 3D acceleration so that the open-source Linux drivers can begin to support the newer ATI graphics processors. It has taken longer than expected for AMD to complete and release this information, but it's now available. AMD has released the fundamental Linux code needed to begin fostering the development of an open-source R600 3D driver. Furthermore, this code also concerns the latest R700 series of graphics processors! The microcode for the newest GPUs has also been released.
Subsequent to the introduction of the Graphics Execution Manager earlier this year, Intel had introduced a new acceleration architecture. UXA, or the UMA Acceleration Architecture, was developed as a temporary solution based upon the EXA architecture but with support for the kernel-driven GEM memory management. How though does the UXA performance compare to that of EXA? In this article we have ran some benchmarking looking at the Intel graphics performance.
The past year has brought several invasive changes to the Intel Linux graphics stack with the introduction of the Graphics Execution Manager for GPU memory management within the kernel, support for the Direct Rendering Infrastructure 2, and kernel mode-setting finally getting ready to enter the limelight. How though has the work this year affected the overall performance of Intel integrated graphics on Linux? In this article we have run a few benchmarks that show where the driver was at a few months ago and where it is today.
Last week our annual Linux Graphics Survey ended. There were over 14,000 submissions this year to the eleven questions we asked pertaining to X.Org, Linux desktop usage, and graphics hardware. In this article are all of the results from this year's survey.
Yesterday we had published our AMD Linux 2008 Year in Review where we had provided a recap of all major features introduced in their Linux driver over the past year as well as taking the time to re-benchmark every Catalyst driver released this year. We have been doing this process annually going back to 2005, and now it's time to look at the NVIDIA Linux driver releases from this year.
Last year when publishing our AMD Year in Review article there were numerous new features to account for, including but not limited to the new OpenGL driver, support for Compiz, and the AMD Catalyst Control Center Linux Edition. This year has been another interesting year for AMD's Linux efforts on both the open and closed fronts. We are focusing on their Catalyst driver efforts in this article, which has picked up support for CrossFire, is now capable of being overclocked with OverDrive, and AMD is now delivering same-day Linux product support. In this article we will recap some of the highlights from the Catalyst driver releases this year as well as set out on a benchmarking extravaganza.
It was just eleven days ago that NVIDIA had released the 180.11 Beta Linux Driver, but in the wee hours of Saturday morning NVIDIA has pushed out a new beta driver. This driver contains a few fixes, support for new GPUs, and an updated implementation of the Video Decode and Presentation API for Unix.
Just in time for the holidays is a new Nouveau Companion newsletter to update the community on the status of this open-source 2D/3D NVIDIA driver that is written by clean room reverse-engineering of NVIDIA's binary driver. It has been a while since Nouveau Companion 40, but there is still active work going into this X.Org driver. Among the topics covered in the 41st edition of the Nouveau Companion is kernel mode-setting, Gallium3D, layering GEM on top of TTM (similar to the GEM-ified TTM Radeon driver), and thermal monitoring code for the Nouveau driver.
This afternoon AMD has released its final Catalyst Linux driver update for the year. It has been a couple months now since there has been anything exciting in one of these Linux driver updates, but what's there in store this time around? Is there X-Video Bitstream Acceleration finally available? Sadly, no. But there is improved video playback support in a composited environment and Hybrid CrossFire support.
The last time we looked in-depth at HDMI support on Linux was last December when talking about HDMI with the ATI Catalyst Linux driver. Since then there has been improvements in a number of drivers for different hardware. In this article we have a brief overview on the status of HDMI support in the Intel, NVIDIA, and ATI Linux drivers.
Earlier this year VIA announced they wanted to join the open-source bandwagon by establishing an open-source driver development initiative, releasing documentation and source-code, and to better engage with the Linux community at large. They have made a few small steps over the past few months, but today they have made their largest open-source contribution yet by releasing four programming documentation guides that cover the video, 2D, and 3D programming for their Chrome 9 graphics processor. In addition, they are now partnering with the community-spawned OpenChrome developers.
Last year we hosted our first annual Linux Graphics Survey as really the only study that's been done to get a better understanding what the Linux community is using in their computers to fulfill their graphics needs, what their key interests are, and where they are looking for improvements. We're hosting this survey once again so we ask that between now and December 15 you take a few minutes to vote in the 2008 Linux graphics survey.
Earlier today we shared that NVIDIA is bringing PureVideo features to Linux through a major update in their binary display driver. The NVIDIA 180.06 driver adds VDPAU support on Linux, Solaris, and FreeBSD operating systems, with VDPAU being a set of APIs designed by NVIDIA to accelerate video decoding, provide post-processing capabilities, timstamp-based presentation of video frames, and compositing of sub-picture elements. We have now had the time to benchmark the Video Decode and Presentation API for Unix and have seen the benefits of PureVideo features finally arriving on alternative platforms.
Over the course of the past few months we have been saying that the NVIDIA 180 Linux driver to be released in the fourth quarter of 2008 would hold in store a few interesting features. Well, today that closed-source driver has been released in beta form. This driver adds a new VDPAU API, which provides PureVideo-like features on Linux, adds in CUDA 2.1 support, new workstation performance optimizations, X Render improvements, and other improvements.
Earlier this week we had published ATI benchmarks of the open-source Mesa stack and X.Org in the Ubuntu releases going back to Ubuntu 7.04. While the open-source graphics drivers have matured a lot over the past eighteen months and many new features have been added, the ATI performance with an R430 GPU really hadn't improved in the newer releases. To see if the open-source Intel situation is any different, we have carried out similar tests with an Intel 945G Chipset across the past four Ubuntu releases.
Late last month we published system benchmarks of Ubuntu 7.04 through 8.10 and had found -- at least with the Intel notebook we were using -- that the performance had degraded with time. This article had then resulted in benchmarks of Fedora 7 through 10 and most recently were Mac OS X 10.5 vs. Ubuntu 8.10 benchmarks. In our original article we hadn't focused much upon the graphics tests and we were just using ATI's binary driver, but per a request from Canonical's Bryce Harrington, we have carried out some open-source graphics tests on Ubuntu 7.04 through 8.10 and we started with the ATI performance.
It's been almost six months since the last issue of the Nouveau Companion, but Pekka Paalanen has rejuvenated these efforts and has put out the 40th issue of this newsletter that updates the open-source community on the status of the Nouveau project, an effort to reverse-engineer NVIDIA's binary driver and provide a fully open-source 2D and 3D implementation. While we have been without the Nouveau Companion for many months, progress on the open-source Nouveau driver has continued. There is now GeForce 8 support with 2D EXA acceleration, work underway in implementing Gallium3D, switching the driver's memory manager from TTM to using a GEM API with TTM internals (similar to the ATI driver), and of course kernel mode-setting.
In early September we shared that UVD2 and XvMC is coming to Linux and that two new library files had begun shipping with the ATI Catalyst driver: AMDXvBA and XvBAW. Earlier this month the Unified Video Decoding 2 (UVD2) support was then enabled by default in the Catalyst 8.10 driver. These video acceleration improvements to the ATI Linux driver aren't exactly end-user friendly yet, but today we have information on how those interested can begin using the X-Video Motion Compensation extension with their ATI hardware along with what the XvBA extension will provide users in regards to advanced video acceleration that is very similar to Microsoft's DirectX Video Acceleration.
The OpenGL 3.0 and GLSL 1.30 specification were released back in August during SIGGRAPH 2008. Just days later NVIDIA had delivered a beta driver for Windows that added OpenGL 3.0 functionality, but Linux, FreeBSD, and Solaris users were left in the dark. Two months later though NVIDIA has now published a beta Linux driver that implements most of the latest GL/GLSL specification.
Last month we had looked at the ATI Radeon HD 4670 under Linux. This graphics card had worked just fine with the Catalyst Linux Suite, but when using either of the two open-source ATI drivers there were problems with the DVI connectors. While using an analog VGA connector works if you are just after mode-setting support, the R600/700 GPUs still lack 2D, 3D, and video acceleration using any non-Catalyst driver. Sapphire Technology though has sent out an ATI Radeon HD 4550 512MB GPU to see whether this sub-$50 USD graphics card plays nicely with the xf86-video-ati or xf86-video-radeonhd drivers.
X Server 1.5 was officially released last month with X.Org 7.4, but there had been server pre-releases going back to earlier this year. Fedora 9 had even shipped with an early version version of X Server 1.5. For those using the open-source X.Org drivers, running the latest server is not a big deal, but those with ATI or NVIDIA binary drivers they sometimes can be slow in supporting the latest version. NVIDIA has supported X Server 1.5 for a number of weeks now, but ATI has yet to update their Catalyst Linux driver with such support. With Ubuntu 8.10 being released in two weeks and it's using this newest X Server, how will ATI graphics cards be supported? Well, an interesting event has occurred and we will tell you what has happened in this article.
The last release of the xf86-video-radeonhd driver was version 1.2.1 and that happened back in April. Since then we have seen a plethora of new work go into this open-source ATI driver for the Radeon R500 series and later. We've seen the driver add support for AMD's 780G Chipset and most notably it has adopted AtomBIOS to be used on the Radeon HD 4800 series and newer. There have also been numerous other improvements to this driver that currently competes with the xf86-video-ati driver. With much of this work now being settled, the Novell development team has released the RadeonHD 1.2.2 driver. In addition, they pushed out the RadeonHD 1.2.3 driver just moments later, which introduces their Command Submission infrastructure.
Introduced in the Catalyst 8.8 Linux driver and further stabilized within Catalyst 8.9 was AMD's MultiView technology. MultiView makes it possible to use multiple GPUs on the same system not for Linux CrossFire but for driving multiple display heads. Using MultiView on Linux you can easily drive four, six, or even eight screens. In fact, up to 32 displays are theoretically supported on a single system (permitting you have enough graphics cards and PCI Express slots). MultiView also allows for OpenGL acceleration across all displays and does not rely upon Xinerama. In this article we are taking a brief look at this multi-GPU multi-monitor feature catered towards AMD's workstation customers.
Over the course of the past few months we have seen several NVIDIA Linux drivers that have all been marked as beta with the last official release appearing in April. Today though NVIDIA has released the 177.80 Linux driver, which is an official update and christens the changes made with the 177.67, 177.68, 170.70, 177.76, and 177.78 beta drivers. Among the changes are RENDER extension improvements, finally officially supporting the GeForce GTX series, text rendering fixes, and there are 25 official changes in total.
Earlier this year Fedora 9 was the first distribution providing kernel-based mode-setting (or KMS for short). At the time there was only a kernel mode-setting driver for Intel hardware and it ended up being disabled by default. We had provided a preview of kernel-based mode-setting that showed how the system display looked when it came to the flicker-free boot experience, fast and clean VT switching, and the technical advantages this method provides over the graphics mode-setting within an X.Org DDX driver. With months having passed since our first article and Red Hat engineers working aggressively on KMS improvements for Fedora 10, we are providing another look at this technology and some of the recent advancements.
Last month we saw the release of the NVIDIA 177.67 Linux driver along with the 177.67 beta driver, and a 177.70 driver. In the fourth NVIDIA Linux driver release in under a month's time, the 177.76 display driver has been released. This too looks like another beta driver with more fixes in store for those with GeForce or Quadro hardware owners.
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