Other Linux Things I Learned From AMD At GDC 2014
The two most interesting things I learned from AMD at the Game Developer's Conference last week were already covered on Phoronix: they're looking at a new Linux driver strategy with an open kernel driver for Catalyst and they are still evaluating the feasibility of Mantle on Linux, but there were also some other random things I learned from various AMD employees.
- There's no plans at the moment to bring GPU PerfStudio (one of their debugging apps) to Linux. On the show floor they were showing GPU PerfStudio on Windows remotely connecting to a Linux system for debugging, but there's no plans at the moment to have the client software on Linux. One of the employees I talked with said there hasn't been much demand to see the complete software package on Linux, with Valve reportedly even satisfied in running GPU PerfStudio from Windows. GPU PerfStudio is written against .NET and apparently they had experimented with Mono to not much avail, but it was said if there was much demand they would get it to Linux.
- Many of the Linux OpenGL Catalyst issues tend to be reproducible with the Windows Catalyst driver when capturing the OpenGL command streams of the games.
- AMD is trying hard to improve their Linux support and have acknowledged there's been some Catalyst Linux issues, but are working to address them.
- Most of AMD's Linux Catalyst graphics team is now based out of Shanghai but more developers at other locations are becoming both Windows and Linux friendly.
- When asked why Phoronix hasn't been getting any graphics card review samples lately, the answers varied depending who I asked. The answers ranged from "well, that's something we can fix right away" to "you'd need to write a proposal" to "high-end graphics cards are expensive"... We'll see in the months ahead if any new Radeon samples land at Phoronix or whether I still end up having to buy the hardware retail in order to provide AMD Radeon Linux benchmarks of new hardware and for monitoring the performance of the open and closed-source AMD drivers -- even when Phoronix is the only source for extensive Linux hardware reviews, graphics driver information, etc over the past decade.
- I also asked various AMD representatives about the release notes for Catalyst Linux releases that are non existent or terribly incomplete. The common theme of the response was "the cost of the engineering time" and then posing the question whether Linux users would like to see more bugs and features worked on rather than proper release notes. It doesn't look like much will change on this front.
- AMD Dual Graphics is known not to work well at all on Linux. I was asking after I have had issues on getting AMD Dual/Hybrid Graphics to work on Linux with an APU and supported Radeon GPU configuration, but I was basically told "Dual Graphics works on a subset of AMD hardware under Windows and under Linux that subset is even smaller." I then brought up again the need for better Linux documentation as I wasn't even sure what was going on with my setup, but it came down again to their resources and doing what they can but costing too much engineering time that could be better spent elsewhere, etc.
- AMD Catalyst Linux Legacy driver releases aren't to be maintained for new Linux kernel and X.Org Server releases, due mainly to engineering costs.
- Just to reiterate from my previous article, AMD has no plans to drop Catalyst in favor of the open-source driver. As I wrote, "Catalyst is important to many users for its OpenGL compliance and driver certifications. AMD invests a lot into quality assurance and seeing that Catalyst fulfills their large commercial customer's needs, which aren't met by the existing open-source driver. There's also many more highly tuned OpenGL optimizations within Catalyst that likely won't materialize within the open-source driver without a lot of hard to justify, painstaking work."
Overall, it was a very interesting GDC 2014 with AMD. I believe that was most of the interesting bits learned on Thursday and Friday at the Game Developer's Conference.
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