November 14, 2008 -- 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.
November 13, 2008 -- 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.
November 10, 2008 -- 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.
October 29, 2008 -- 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.
October 29, 2008 -- 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.
October 24, 2008 -- 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.
October 20, 2008 -- 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.
October 15, 2008 -- 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.
October 13, 2008 -- 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.
October 09, 2008 -- 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.