It's been nearly seven months since I wrote my first article about ATI drivers and how they literally crippled my computer and my daily life. Last month, ATI had finally released their latest drivers which contains the new OpenGL component and AIGLX support. Was this release worth the amount of hype and did it solve everyone's problems? For me, simply, no. After seven months of waiting, updating, and struggling, things are not good for me, in every possible feature of the ATI Linux driver I use.
Over the past two weeks there has been a number of new developments in regards to the open-source NVIDIA driver, Nouveau. In fact, the Nouveau team is preparing for the first stable release! This stable open-source NVIDIA driver will support 2D, X-Video, and EXA acceleration with all graphics cards from the NV05 to NV40 (GeForce 7) series. Read more in the 30th edition of the Nouveau Companion.
With all of our coverage at Phoronix of the different ATI and NVIDIA graphics drivers, if you're new to Linux or just get caught off guard by all of the different open and closed-source drivers, it can be confusing to know which driver is right for you and your needs. At the request of many readers, and the obvious need for a concise article explaining the different solutions, we have written a synopsis of the Linux graphics drivers currently available. This is really to let those new to Linux know what choices are available for them and their graphics card.
This past Friday we had delivered benchmarks comparing the performance of the open-source Radeon driver against the new closed-source fglrx driver from AMD. These benchmarks had just looked at the AIGLX performance when using Compiz on an Ubuntu 7.10 desktop. In all of the benchmarks except one, the fglrx driver had carried a staggering lead over the open-source competition. In addition to these Compiz benchmarks, on the same system we had also ran some additional benchmarks to see for gaming and 2D rendering how the two ATI Linux drivers compare.
For those that may have missed it, the ATI/AMD fglrx 8.42 display driver that was released last month had introduced AIGLX support. The open-source "Radeon" driver for ATI graphics cards going up to the R400 generation has supported AIGLX for quite some time, but the ATI binary display driver hadn't until last month. However, one of the complaints about the fglrx implementation of AIGLX is that in the 8.42.3 driver, some are encountering slow performance in Compiz / Compiz Fusion. We have taken an ATI Radeon X800XL 256MB PCI-E graphics card, which is supported by both the Radeon and fglrx drivers, and have compared their Compiz performance in a few different scenarios.
Since AMD introduced their new Linux display driver last month, we have published a number of different articles looking at the Radeon performance across their different GPU product generations. This ATI/AMD Linux driver testing and exploration continued this month with the release of the 8.42 driver, which finally introduced AIGLX support for the fglrx driver. One area though we haven't yet analyzed is how their official Linux driver now compares to their much-optimized Windows Catalyst driver. Today, however, we will be looking just at that as we compare the ATI Radeon HD 2900XT 512MB performance under Linux and Microsoft Windows Vista.
In this edition of the Nouveau Companion, the developers of the open-source 2D/3D NVIDIA display driver talk about IRC color coding, NV04 performance improvements, texture fixes, EXA advancements, register combiners, and more. Also being worked on by the Nouveau camp has been a NV4x TTM and Gallium prototype. The Nouveau developers are still in need of some additional testing, so be sure to give them a hand if you're able to do so.
This past Sunday we started our first-ever Linux Graphics Survey that looked at the usage of X.Org display drivers, hardware, and the display features being sought after by Linux desktop users. In less than four days, we received over 10,000 survey submissions! This survey will be going on until November 21, so if you haven't yet participated you still have plenty of time to do so. But for those of you that have already taken the survey, what are the results so far? Well, below are the percentages from all of the responses collected before 10:00AM PST today. In Late November when the survey has ended, we will present the final results.
Today it's now time where the fglrx driver reaches yet another milestone. Not only does today's release address many of the outstanding bugs for the earlier GPU generations while also introducing a few new features, but it also delivers AIGLX support! Yes, you read that right. You can finally run your ATI graphics card with the fglrx driver and run Compiz, Beryl, or Compiz Fusion without using XGL! This is coming 13 months after NVIDIA had introduced its AIGLX support, but now just days after the release of Ubuntu 7.10 Gutsy Gibbon it's here for ATI hardware. Granted, if you were using an older ATI GPU with the open-source Radeon driver, you could have been benefiting from AIGLX already.
While Linux desktop surveys are nothing new, no recent polls have looked specifically at Linux graphics when it comes to X.Org video drivers, hardware, and related video features. We, however, at Phoronix see a need for this information to be profiled and have launched the first-annual Linux graphics survey. This survey is intended to allow the development community to get a better understanding of the video hardware in use, what open-source and closed-source drivers are being used, and other relevant information.
It's time for another issue of the Nouveau Companion, which talks about the development work done on the open-source 2D/3D NVIDIA driver over the past two weeks. Among the topics talked about in this issue include PlayStation 3 graphics via Nouveau, using TTM memory manager, and the Gallium3D architecture. A stable 2D Nouveau driver is about completed with EXA support but currently lacks an EXA implementation on the older NVIDIA hardware and there are still problems with NVIDIA's GeForce 8 hardware.
It's going on two weeks since the RadeonHD driver was made available, which is AMD's sanctioned open-source driver for the Radeon X1000 (R500) and Radeon HD 2000 (R600) series (as well as future generations of AMD GPUs). In this time, we have seen some great progress made with this open-source driver and have a few additional remarks to share about its status and the first bits of this driver's roadmap.
It's been about a month since the last Nouveau Companion, the development newsletter talking about the work going into the open-source 3D NVIDIA display driver, but today the latest edition is now available. Covered in the 27th edition of the Nouveau Companion are details on the progress made in the past month such as with porting the driver to using libpciaccess, bug squashing, 2D acceleration working for NVIDIA's GeForce 8800GTX, X-Video fixes, and RandR 1.2 support was merged back into the Nouveau master branch. The Nouveau developers have received a few new graphics card donations but are still in need of development help and testing.
This past week was marked by the release of the NVIDIA 100.14.19 display driver for Linux and Solaris, which was the first alternative OS driver release from this Santa Clara company in about three months. The public change-log is quite lengthy and finally delivered on fixing the GeForce 8 performance regression. In our GeForce 8800GTS Linux tests, the performance fix was very evident. However, now that we have had the time to run more extensive tests with the GeForce 8 series and this new driver, we have found not everything to be smooth sailing.
After a very slow summer, NVIDIA has finally rolled out an updated Linux proprietary display driver. The release highlights are quite extensive. However, as NVIDIA did not have the courtesy to allow for testing this driver in advance and right now we are out covering Intel's IDF, we do not have benchmarks to share. However, as time permits over the next day or two we hope to publish some new Linux NVIDIA GeForce 8800 benchmarks.
While today's unveiling of the RadeonHD driver for the ATI R500 and R600 series is great news, this driver right now is targeted solely for developers as it's still experimental and doesn't yet support 3D acceleration and other key functionality generally needed in production environments. However, if you are looking to try out this new RadeonHD driver on Ubuntu because you're running into problems with the proprietary fglrx driver or just wishing to report your results, we've documented the installation procedures for Ubuntu.
Not only is AMD providing the open-source community with their ATI GPU specifications, but they have also been partnering with Novell on the development of a new open-source display driver. We've been telling you about AMD's open-source work all month, and today the new driver is finally available for download. It is still very much a work in progress and isn't much further along than the open-source R500 Avivo driver. However, this new driver does support the Radeon HD 2000 (R600) family. This new X.Org driver is called RadeonHD and in this article we have some initial information to share with additional articles coming later in the day.
AMD started delivering on their word of providing GPU specifications to the open-source community without a Non-Disclosure Agreement, and now with the 2007 X Developer Summit having come to a close, we asked several key members of the X.Org community on how they judge AMD's recent move. They were also asked if they believe NVIDIA will follow suit in helping the open-source community. Those that responded were David Airlie, Daniel Stone, Jerome Glisse, Stephane Marchesin, and Oliver McFadden. Mark Shuttleworth had also previously commented on AMD's efforts.
After talking for the past week about AMD's new Linux efforts with announcing a new fglrx Linux driver overhaul and releasing ATI GPU specifications without a Non-Disclosure Agreement, the 8.41 fglrx driver is now released. You can now download this new Linux driver right now.This is the closed-source proprietary driver, however, much of the "engine" for this driver is rewritten and as we have been sharing in articles from the Radeon X800XL performance to the flagship Radeon HD 2900XT there are certainly some new accomplishments coming out of the AMD Linux camp. The new baseline open-source driver written by Novell should also be released shortly. In this article we have a few additional remarks on the AMD 8.41 Linux display driver for ATI Radeon graphics cards.
This past week AMD raised the Linux graphics bar by not only announcing their new fglrx graphics driver, which delivers Radeon HD 2000 support, immense performance improvements, and AIGLX, but it was accompanied by an announcement that they will be delivering specifications to the X.Org development community. These two announcements came after intense work internally at AMD and over a long period of time, but literally overnight it changed the minds of many Linux users on how they judge this company with its once notorious binary blob. AMD has really set a precedence for showing that a semiconductor company once criticized to no end with their proprietary software can update their views to assist and embrace the open-source Linux community while remaining competitive as a company in a triopoloy market. They have also thus reaffirmed that Linux is a viable desktop operating system. But the ball has now landed in NVIDIA's court. NVIDIA can either play ball by pushing forward with a similar effort, and then all of the big three GPU manufacturers would be cradling an open-source strategy, or they may find themselves in trouble down the road.
Mark Shuttleworth, the self-made millionaire and leader of the Ubuntu project, has been very vocal about the adoption of free software and that "the free software approach is a better device driver development model." But what does Mark think about AMD's announcements this week with the 8.41 display driver and the just-announced program where AMD will be handing out specifications under NDA and helping out the open-source community? Mark Shuttleworth has provided Phoronix some of his initial thoughts on ATI/AMD's new Linux push.
Rumors and speculations have been flying around for months about ATI/AMD opening up the source-code to their Linux display driver or providing their GPU specifications to community developers. This for the most part had started after Henri Richard's statement at the Red Hat Summit earlier this year. Well, those rumors can finally be put to rest. AMD will be providing NDA specifications, an open-source library, and there is a new open-source graphics driver as a result. AMD will continue producing a closed-source proprietary driver; however, they are opening the source-code to a critical library with accompanying GPU specifications for X.Org developers. To get the ball rolling, AMD is also funding the development of a new open-source R500/600 driver.
So far today at Phoronix we've published the AMD 8.41 Display Driver Preview, ATI R300/400 Linux Performance, ATI R500 Linux Performance, and ATI Radeon HD 2900XT Linux Performance -- yet, it's only ten minutes past midnight! However, looking at AMD's official statement on the Linux driver, there is a rather interesting sentence about good things to come...
Since Linux support for the Radeon X1000 "R500" series was introduced some 17 months ago, there has been a performance imbalance. The past fglrx drivers have worked, but they've had a difficult time competing with the competition presented by NVIDIA and their Linux driver when it comes to the frame-rate performance. Though as we have been sharing in all of our articles today, the new ATI/AMD Linux driver will be made available in the coming days and it offers some striking performance improvements. In our Mobility Radeon X300 testing, the new driver allowed Doom 3 and Quake 4 to run at playable frame-rates, which simply wasn't possible with the previous 8.40.4 fglrx driver a month ago! The Radeon X800XL performance was also improved significantly, which allowed it to outperform the NVIDIA competition. Now onto the Radeon X1000 family, as you can probably suspect, there are massive performance improvements to be found with these graphics cards as well. In this article we have tested the Radeon X1300PRO, X1800XL, X1800XT, and X1950PRO with the new ATI Linux driver and have found significant performance improvements.
To some extent, ATI's R300 and R400 series is more popular than the R500 (and now R600) series for Linux users. The R300/400 series has a reliable open-source driver and while the performance of the X.Org Radeon driver lags behind ATI's binary driver, it's currently the fastest for offering open-source 3D performance on dedicated graphics cards. With the cards being around much longer, they are also much cheaper and have become somewhat popular for Linux desktops that can power Compiz and Beryl "eye candy" effects. However, it's just not the R500 and R600 series that receive a nice performance boost from the new ATI/AMD Linux driver, but so does the R300/400 series. Using the fglrx 8.41 driver on this older graphics hardware will allow for a sizable performance improvement compared to the older binary drivers. Much of AMD's focus is on the R500 and R600 series, as is our focus, but we've completed some benchmarks comparing the new and old fglrx drivers using an ATI Mobility Radeon X300 64MB and ATI Radeon X800XL 256MB graphics card.
While many thought this day would never come or that it was some form of propaganda, it's coming and it's coming this month. The AMD fglrx 8.41 driver features a brand new underlying code-base that has been under development for well over a year. At Phoronix we have literally spent hundreds of hours using and testing this new driver, and to say the least it is truly a new experience on the ATI Linux front. The new driver delivers massive performance improvements, Radeon HD 2000 (R600) support, and a whole lot more. This article is the first of five articles that will be published today at Phoronix as we examine the new AMD Linux driver extensively on all fronts from seeing how it can handle the flagship ATI Radeon HD 2900XT graphics card to going back to past graphics card families to show the dramatic performance improvements.
On the Phoronix Forums we have been running a Q&A with the developers of the Nouveau project. For those out of the loop or new to Linux, the Nouveau project aims to provide an open-source 2D/3D graphics driver for NVIDIA hardware. After collecting a number of questions from our readers, KoalaBR and Marcheu have answered these questions. The questions range from whether there will be open-source SLI support to asking if NVIDIA has ever contacted the Nouveau developers.
Back in April of 2006, a proprietary driver from ATI that had supported the Radeon X1000 "R500" product family had finally greeted Linux users. This driver, v8.24.8, had supported the entire desktop and mobile Radeon X1000 lineup with 3D support and even Avivo video playback capabilities. For the six months prior, Linux users were stuck in the dark without any Linux support for the R500 series while the ATI Windows Catalyst customers had support that was continually improved. Of course, back in 2006 there was no open-source R500 driver either. Over the past 16 months with R500 support in the fglrx driver, the features have continually improved with an AMD Catalyst Control Center for Linux, support for the newer R500 graphics cards, and there are far less bugs in the driver now then there was in the past. However, these changes really have not affected the performance as it has stayed the same for the most part with minimal improvements. In this article today we are going back to test the original 8.24.8 display driver and compare it directly against the latest driver available as of today, the 8.40.4 fglrx release.
Scheduled for release tomorrow is X.Org 7.3. Among the new features for X.Org 7.3 include the Xorg server 1.4, an application for adjusting a display's backlight, updated display drivers, and support for font catalog directories. Version 1.4 of the X.Org server contains such features as RandR 1.2 support, input hot-plugging, KDrive enhancements, Solaris DTrace support, and EXA improvements. In this article today, we will briefly go over some of the changes found in X.Org 7.3 and we will follow up with some benchmarks in early September.
One of the new features to land with Ubuntu 7.10 Gutsy Gibbon Tribe 5 is the displayconfig-gtk. This new GTK control panel is similar to NVIDIA's nvidia-settings panel and ATI's Catalyst Control Center, which allow for GUI-based modifying of your xorg.conf to control such options as the display resolution, setting up multiple display heads in either an extended mode or mirroring, and changing your graphics driver. In this article, we are taking a brief tour of this early displayconfig-gtk application.
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