AMD Catalyst Graphics Do Work On SteamOS
Written by Michael Larabel in Gaming on 15 December 2013 at 09:52 AM EST. 8 Comments
The binary Catalyst graphics driver is pre-installed and does work on Valve's SteamOS.

On Friday when the SteamOS 1.0 "Alchemist" Beta was released, Valve said to use NVIDIA graphics as one of their hardware requirements. It also stated "AMD and Intel graphics support coming soon!" As I subsequently reported though, the Catalyst and Mesa drivers are present, meaning AMD and Intel graphics hardware support.

Now having my initial SteamOS benchmarks published, I tried out AMD Radeon and Intel HD Graphics on one of my SteamOS rigs this weekend. The AMD Radeon graphics booted without any issues:

With the SteamOS Compositor there is nothing that's NVIDIA-specific. It's all based on xcompmgr, we just all know that NVIDIA's binary graphics driver provides first-rate Linux support. With a Raodeon HD 6950 graphics card, the system booted up into SteamOS without any issues at all. The latest Catalyst 13.11 Linux beta was in use.

Valve is likely just not advertising AMD hardware as being supported since generally the AMD Catalyst Linux driver is notorious among Linux gamers for either having performance problems or rendering issues. Valve likely doesn't want some fresh Windows gamers installing the SteamOS Beta, running into a bunch of AMD Linux issues they didn't have on Windows, and then blame the problems on SteamOS or Linux.

So if you're comfortable with the potential for Catalyst Linux issues with the games on Steam and want to run SteamOS, you should be able to easily do so. I'm running some AMD SteamOS benchmarks right now.

In regards to using Intel HD Graphics on SteamOS, when booting up the system it becomes a black screen. However, I think I know the issue (hint: "nomodeset" is present in the boot-loader), but once I have a chance to go back and try out Intel graphics later today with the SteamOS Mesa benchmarks, I'll write some more and possibly do some Intel benchmarks.
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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