My Three Hopes For AMD's Open-Source Stack The Rest Of 2017
Written by Michael Larabel in Radeon on 4 June 2017 at 07:49 AM EDT. 43 Comments
RADEON --
Being half-way through 2017 now, there are three wishes I hope will still be fulfilled this calendar year by the AMD open-source Linux graphics driver stack.

The three most pressing and realistic milestones I would love to see happen for the open-source AMD driver include:

Open-Source Vulkan Driver - We've been talking about this one for over a year... Unfortunately, not much communication on when this is actually going to happen... Back around the Vulkan 1.0 debut we were hearing about "6 months" perhaps until seeing the Vulkan code release, but more than one year later, the official AMD Vulkan driver still hasn't been open-sourced. About all we know is that AMD says they are still committed to this multi-platform Vulkan driver and don't have any plans to abandon it in favor of the unofficial RADV driver. This AMD Vulkan driver though is an independent code-base and not part of Mesa, thus both open-source Vulkan Linux drivers can continue to co-exist if they so choose. RADV continues getting better by the week, but it will be interesting to see how everything shakes out once AMD finally open-sources their official Vulkan driver.

Mainlining DC (DAL) - DC/DAL has been another frustrating pain point. My main gripe with not having the DC display stack in mainline is that any recent AMD GPU does not have working DisplayPort/HDMI audio, which then rules Polaris GPUs and friends out of being a good HTPC/media-center box if you rely upon HDMI audio or even all my test systems use HDMI/DP audio and I only pull out an old set of speakers when really needed. But not having DC in the mainline kernel also prevents FreeSync, HDMI 2.0, atomic mode-setting, and a number of other modern display features. The next opportunity for seeing DC in mainline is Linux 4.12, but if that's to happen, AMD will really need to post their cleaned-up patch series soon on the mailing list to try to get it reviewed and approved by upstream DRM developers. DC is also much more pressing now since it's needed for Radeon RX Vega display support -- without that support going mainline, most people switching soon to Vega will need to build their own kernel or rely upon AMDGPU-PRO.

Open-Source Radeon Software / Control Center - Over one year ago was also when I was told by AMD they were looking at open-sourcing their Radeon Software Settings (formerly known as the Catalyst Control Center). Their modern settings GUI is written in Qt5 and is quite feature-rich on Windows. AMD's Linux developers have been working on getting more functionality exposed to user-space, but there isn't yet a nice GUI for allowing Linux gamers/enthusiasts to easily manage all aspects of their graphics card(s), leaving overclocking to the command-line along with fan management and other tunables. I haven't heard anything lately whether they are still planning on this open-sourcing of their control center, but let's hope it's coming.

What else would you like to see for AMD's Linux driver stack in the second half of the year? The Vulkan and OpenGL performance is getting quite good. One other possibility that comes to mind is seeing AMD enable by default GCN 1.0/1.1 support in AMDGPU over Radeon DRM, but we'll see what happens. It also remains unlikely that AMD would drop AMDGPU-PRO, contrary to popular comments in our forums and elsewhere. AMDGPU-PRO is still important for workstation users and those needing OpenGL with compatibility profile support.
About The Author
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Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 10,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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