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.
With Mesa 7.1 having been released this week and the open-source R600/770 3D support just around the corner, we've taken this opportunity to see how the open-source Mesa 3D stack compares to AMD's monthly-refined Catalyst Linux Suite with the fglrx driver performs for the Radeon X1000 (R500) series. In this article are Mesa 7.1 and Catalyst 8.8 benchmarks for the Radeon X1300PRO and X1800XL graphics cards.
Tuesday the NVIDIA 177.67 Display Driver was released and then yesterday the ATI Catalyst 8.8 Driver came out with OverDrive and CrossFire support. Today though we are back with another NVIDIA Linux driver release. Due to fallout from the 177.67 driver, NVIDIA has replaced it just two days later with the 177.68 Beta.
When it comes to ATI hardware, one of the features we have been after for the longest time on Linux has been any overclocking support. Windows users have ATI's OverDrive at their disposal along with an arsenal of third-party utilities such as ATI Tool. NVIDIA also has various utilities for overclocking their graphics cards on Windows, but they also provide support for overclocking on Linux. Today though with the release of the Catalyst 8.8 Linux driver there is finally ATI OverDrive 5 support on Linux.
AMD had delivered same-day Linux support when launching the Radeon HD 4800 series this summer. This was a first for AMD when launching a major product revision that there was same-day support considering for the R500 and R600 (and earlier) generations it had taken months for any level of support on Linux. This was great to see and the Radeon HD 4850/4870 performance was terrific thanks to their new OpenGL driver introduced last September. Today AMD has announced another Catalyst driver release for Linux and this is arguably the most significant driver update since last October's release when AIGLX support was added. Catalyst 8.8 delivers CrossFire support on Linux, OverDrive overclocking support, adaptive anti-aliasing support, and other improvements.
It has been a few weeks since NVIDIA last pushed out a Linux display driver update, but this morning already they have pushed out a new update. The just-released NVIDIA 177.67 display driver doesn't introduce OpenGL 3.0 support or any other major features, but it does look to resolve a number of bugs, provide improvements to the Render extension, add official support to the GeForce GTX 260/280 graphics cards, and a number of other improvements.
For months we have been telling you that AMD has been preparing to release their R600 series documentation as well as opening up the source-code to two of their internal software projects used for testing new graphics processor designs prior to the availability of the actual hardware. Advanced Micro Devices has yet to release their 3D programming documentation covering the R600 series (or the brand-new RV770) nor the source-code to their two internal projects (TCore and KGrids), but following several postings in our forums over the past couple of weeks and many emails inquiring about the status, today we have a brief update to share.
From SIGGRAPH 2008, one of the premiere computers graphics conferences, the Khronos Group has announced the release of the OpenGL 3.0 API specification and the GLSL 1.30 shading language specification. This is the first major update to this cross-platform 3D programming API since the OpenGL 2.1 release two years ago. In this article we have a bit of information on these OpenGL and GLSL updates and when we can expect to see the Linux graphics scene moving to this new standard.
Yesterday KDE 4.1 was released and there are widely known 2D performance problems with the GeForce 8 and 9 series, which are especially exhibited when using the K Desktop Environment. So you think NVIDIA would address this issue in their next driver update? Guess again. Early this morning NVIDIA had released a new driver as version 173.14.12. This is the first NVIDIA Linux driver release in a month and a half, but its change-log is quite slim.
Last September AMD had provided an open-source AtomBIOS parser for use by the RadeonHD driver in order to communicate with this video BIOS abstraction layer found on the past few generations of ATI graphics cards. While we are still waiting on the R600 sample source-code and 3D register documentation to arrive, AMD has today released a new AtomBIOS parser. This parser is coming out of their KGrids project, which we have previously mentioned in the past, and will allow for a clean AtomBIOS parser to enter the Linux kernel.
In recent times, the xorg.conf file once used for configuring all static X-related server options has been shrinking in size. Thanks to more reliable EDID (Extended Display Identification Data) on LCD panels, it's generally no longer needed to manually specify mode-lines within this X.Org configuration file. With improvements for auto-detection, in many circumstances it's no longer even needed to manually specify your graphics driver and other options. However, the X Server currently lacks an infrastructure for supporting persistent device properties.
Since last night's release of Ubuntu 8.10 Alpha 2 we have been trying out this latest work from the Canonical camp. While many Linux desktop users would just shrug off X.Org 7.4 as not being too relevant to them -- considering there aren't that many new blatant features -- if you're a faithful Phoronix reader you should already know about much of the recent driver work (especially on the ATI side) and Mesa advancements along with X Server fixes.
The Novell developers behind the xf86-video-radeonhd driver have yet to receive their hardware samples from AMD for the Radeon HD 4850 or Radeon HD 4870, but there is already AtomBIOS-based support for these next-generation graphics processors. This open-source driver now has basic mode-setting support, but the 2D and 3D work is still to come.
We've talked all too often about AtomBIOS and there being two different open-source drivers that support the same ATI Radeon hardware with the key architectural difference between the two just being the use of this video BIOS abstraction layer. From the beginning, AMD was planning to have their Novell partners use AtomBIOS when writing this new (at the time, R500/600) driver, but the developers ultimately declined. These developers have expressed their opinions on AtomBIOS, which range from it being an unbearable mess to this design being nothing more than writing open-source code to power someone else's closed-source work. However, under pressure by AMD, the developers are now preparing to use AtomBIOS to a much greater extent within the xf86-video-radeonhd driver. In this article we'll tell you more about what's gone on and where you can checkout this AtomBIOS-bearing RadeonHD driver.
Now that we have delivered OpenGL benchmarks of the ATI Radeon HD 4850 on Linux, we are turning our focus to the flagship Radeon 4870. For this testing we have dual Radeon HD 4870 graphics cards from Sapphire Technology. We'll be publishing these initial results in the coming days, but for now, we are just letting everyone know that this RV770 GPU also is working with xf86-video-ati after writing a trivial patch for this display driver. Our patch is enclosed.
In our article this morning entitled AMD Makes An Evolutionary Leap In Linux Support, we briefly touched on the fact that AMD would be continuing in their open-source support for the Radeon HD 4000 generation of GPUs. AMD will release register information for the RV770 and the code to TCore and KGrids will help the community developers when it comes to 2D and 3D acceleration. Though, with not much work at all, this afternoon we have the ATI Radeon HD 4850 512MB running with the open-source xf86-video-ati driver! The Radeon HD 4850 will not currently work with the xf86-video-radeonhd driver as it doesn't rely upon the AtomBIOS in these areas, but in this article we have enclosed our patch and other information for using this open-source driver on AMD's latest hardware.
Less than a year ago we shared with you the revolutionary steps AMD was taking to deliver significant improvements to their once infamous proprietary Linux display driver and at the same time the work they were doing to foster the growth of an open-source driver for their latest graphics card families. These steps have certainly paid off for both AMD and the Linux community at large. AMD's proprietary driver is now on par with NVIDIA's Linux driver and there are two open-source ATI drivers picking up new features and improvements on an almost daily basis. AMD also continues to publish new programming guides and register information on a routine basis for their latest and greatest hardware. This has been truly phenomenal to see, but AMD has now evolved their Linux support by taking it a large step further. AMD is in the process of pushing new high-end features into their Linux driver -- such as Multi-GPU CrossFire support -- and with the ATI Radeon HD 4850 they have even begun showing off Tux, the Linux mascot, on their product packaging and providing Linux drivers on their product CDs!
In AMD's usual fashion, this afternoon they have announced the release of new display drivers for both Linux and Windows. The Catalyst 8.6 release for Linux introduces a few bug fixes, version 2.0 of their driver installation API, and a few unannounced features are present. As always, we have the run-down for you on this month's changes.
Following our article looking at the state of X.Org (along with announcing the release of X Server 1.4.1), we proceeded to share the contributors behind the X Server -- both the individual developers and companies involved with fostering the growth of this important free software package since 1999. What we hadn't looked at in that analysis was the people and companies behind the work on Mesa 3D, or the OpenGL component used by X. In this article, however, we have these statistics to share.
Late last month AMD had announced the release of the Stream SDK for Linux. This Stream SDK brings support for the CAL and Brook+ libraries on Linux. The version released was Stream SDK 1.1 Beta, which arrived at the same time as the SDK for Windows XP. With this new Linux support, we ran a small Q&A session with Michael Chu, who serves as the product manager for AMD Stream software. In this article are AMD's answers to some of the questions asked by members of the Phoronix Forums.
NVIDIA's last Linux display driver release was just shy of two months ago when they had unveiled the 173.08 Beta driver with compatibility for the GeForce 9800 series and other new GeForce 9 parts. Prior to the 173.08 release was version 171.06, which was another beta release, and the last official release being NVIDIA 169.12 from February. NVIDIA this morning has released the 173.14.05 driver, which marks the return to their old naming convention, but it doesn't bring many changes compared to the recent beta releases and just a regurgitated release announcement.
From the release of Mesa 7.1 Release Candidate 1 to Multi-Pointer X being merged to master to the R500 3D milestone, it's been an exciting past 24 hours for the X.Org community. With the open-source 3D support for the Radeon X1000 "R500" GPUs now reaching a parity with the Mesa support for earlier ATI Radeon product families, more Linux users can now consider turning to an open-source driver (xf86-video-ati or xf86-video-radeonhd) for their video driver needs. In this article we are looking at what Linux games work thanks to this latest Mesa R500 support.
While the RadeonHD developers have been busy working on Radeon HD 3200 / 780 Series support and other features for this open-source ATI R500/600+ driver, the DRM (Direct Rendering Manager) support has been lagging behind. Earlier this month Matthias Hopf was successful in getting DRM working on an RS690 GPU and he has published RadeonHD DRM code into his personal development tree, but no code has yet to reach master. Meanwhile, as the xf86-video-ati driver is using AtomBIOS, they are able to spend more time working on the 3D features and other areas and less time "banging on registers" or even waiting on register documentation to arrive. David Airlie has been working on the R500 3D support along with Alex Deucher and Corbin Simpson. The trio has been making some great headway towards open-source 3D goodness for Radeon X1000 and HD 2000/3000 GPUs. Their most recent efforts have focused around the R500 fragment program code and today they have reached a monumental milestone.
The AMD 780 Series Chipsets have been available for nearly four months now, and supporting the Radeon HD 3200 graphics since day one has been AMD's proprietary Catalyst driver. On the open-source side, there has been the Radeon HD 3200 / 780G support quite quickly through the xf86-video-ati driver due to its use of AtomBIOS, but the support within the RadeonHD driver hadn't arrived until earlier today. Thanks to 22 code commits made to the mainline xf86-video-radeonhd git tree, it's now possible to use this newest AMD integrated graphics processor with this Novell-spawned driver.
Earlier this month we announced that AMD would soon be releasing their Stream SDK for Linux, and just before the start of the weekend this inaugural release had occurred. The Linux release of the AMD Stream SDK v1.1 Beta brings both CAL and Brook+ for those using ATI/AMD graphics hardware. This v1.1 Beta release is also in tune with the new beta release for Microsoft Windows XP.
All of the Catalyst Linux driver releases this year have been... well, boring. There have been a few bug fixes in each release and new product support for the latest ATI/AMD GPUs, but no major features have been introduced in several months. However, during this time we've been telling you to get ready for an interesting summer and that "we have reason to believe AMD does have some Linux work under development that could make 2007 look boring compared to this year." It was in 2007 that AMD had introduced their brand-new driver with AIGLX support. Well, with the release today of Catalyst 8.5 the monthly Linux driver releases are becoming more interesting and we should have several exciting months ahead. What does today's Linux driver bring to the table? We'll give you the run-down in this article, but to get you started there is now Catalyst AI, Linux 2.6.25 support, and much improved 2D performance!
In the 39th edition of the Nouveau Companion, this open-source NVIDIA driver development crew talks about their latest driver achievements over the past few weeks. Among the progress made includes further enhancing the NV50 support, a Nouveau XvMC implementation for Gallium3D (initially through a software-based implementation), and MMioTrace being postponed to the Linux 2.6.27 kernel.
Last month we reported on VIA's new open-source driver efforts that was announced at the LF Austin Summit. This new strategy involves VIA providing the open-source community with NDA-free hardware specifications, code, and other resources -- in a similar fashion to what ATI/AMD and Intel have been doing for some time now. However, not everyone has been satisfied by this announcement and their new Linux website isn't yet exactly useful. We explore the VIA Linux situation in this article as well as sharing what two open-source developers have to say.
There are many new and innovative features brewing within the X.Org development community right now -- among the many are Gallium3D, the TTM memory manager, and MPX (Multi-Pointer X) -- but one of the features that has risen towards the top of the list and delivers visible benefits to the end-user is kernel-based mode-setting. As implied by its name, kernel mode-setting involves moving the mode-setting code for video adapters from the user-space X server drivers into the Linux kernel. This may seem like an uninteresting topic for end-users, but having the mode-setting done in the kernel allows for a cleaner and richer boot process, improved suspend and resume support, and more reliable VT switching (along with other advantages). Kernel mode-setting isn't yet in the mainline Linux kernel nor is the API for it frozen, but Fedora 9 shipping next month will be the first major distribution carrying this initial support. In this article we're looking more closely at kernel mode-setting with the Intel X.Org driver as well as showing videos of kernel-based mode-setting in action.
In the last quarter of 2007 AMD was on a spree with their proprietary Linux driver as they introduced their new OpenGL driver, which brought major performance improvements, and that was followed by AIGLX support. This year, however, their Catalyst Linux driver activity has been relatively quiet for end-users. Since switching over to this much-improved code-base, they have been able to deliver same-month product support for their new graphics processors such as the Radeon HD 3650, 3850/3870, and the 780G-based IGP, which once couldn't be said for this company that had taken them a half-year to deliver support for the Radeon X1000 (R500) and Radeon HD 2000 (R600) product families. Today the Catalyst 8.4 Linux driver has been released, and like the 8.1, 8.2, and 8.3 drivers, this month's update comes with minimal changes.
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