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Open-Source Radeon HD 7000 Code Coming Soon?

AMD

Published on 23 February 2012 08:10 PM EST
Written by Michael Larabel in AMD
3 Comments

Where oh where is the open-source support for the "Southern Islands" GPUs, a.k.a. the AMD Radeon HD 7000 series? It's been over two months since the first hardware launched and there still is no open-source Linux driver support available.

AMD hasn't officially commented on when the Radeon HD 7000 series support will land, but based upon the time that's passed already and some other activity, it's hopefully coming soon. Even when AMD launched the Radeon HD 7950 and then the Radeon HD 7570/7770 graphics cards there was no open-source support. Right now for Southern Islands there is just backing from the AMD Catalyst blob, which remains frightening to many desktop Linux users.

This afternoon Alex Deucher published a new Radeon DRM driver patch-set entitled radeon_asic cleanups for drm-next. This "clean up" is adding in over 1,200 lines of new code while removing just over 700 lines. There is no change in functionality with these 14 patches that were presented today, but there are changes "required for future functionality" and other cleansing.

This would be a prime opportunity for AMD to now publish the Southern Islands support for their Radeon DRM kernel driver so that it can get sufficiently reviewed and ready for the Linux 3.4 kernel merge window. (If the new hardware enablement doesn't require any other changes that could regress older hardware generations, it could potentially be mainlined at any point, but based upon the VM changes and other work the S.I. undertaking is quite large.)

Besides needing to address the Radeon HD 7000 series support within the Linux kernel, there's also the Mesa/Gallium3D support that's needed. Due to the new GPU architecture, AMD simply can't tack on the Southern Islands support to the existing "R600g" Gallium3D driver but rather they need to make a new Gallium3D driver. This new driver is said to be based upon a stripped-down R600g, but still it's taking a while and will also need to clear AMD's legal review, which can be a very lengthy process.

A small update is also needed to the xf86-video-ati DDX, but these days that's minimal with AMD no longer providing user-space mode-setting (UMS) support for new hardware.

Soon as I hear more about the Radeon HD 7000 series open-source Linux driver support I'll pass it along, or when any Southern Islands samples finally arrive for Linux testing with the blob or otherwise.

About The Author
Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the web-site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience and being the largest web-site devoted to Linux hardware reviews, particularly for products relevant to Linux gamers and enthusiasts but also commonly reviewing servers/workstations and embedded Linux devices. Michael has written more than 10,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics hardware drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated testing software. He can be followed via and or contacted via .
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