AMD Hybrid Graphics For Linux?
At CeBIT 2008 in Germany, AMD today announced the 780 Series Chipset. This budget-minded motherboard chipset, which is compatible with Quad-Core Phenom CPUs but a step-down from the 790FX Chipset, takes on gaming and high-definition computing for mainstream PC users on both the desktop and mobile platforms. What is special though about this chipset is its support for AMD's Hybrid Graphics Technology.
We first discussed Hybrid Graphics when the Radeon HD 3400 / 3600 series was announced. Essentially this technology is very similar to CrossFire (or CrossFireX as it's known today), but instead of splitting the rendering workload between two discrete GPUs, it utilizes one discrete PCI Express graphics card and an IGP (Integrated Graphics Processor). This technology will not work with any ATI graphics card and any motherboard chipset, but you needed a supported pair, of course. Hybrid Graphics can, according to AMD, deliver a 70% boost in performance.
The AMD 780 Series is currently made up of the 780G and 780V. The 780G with its integrated graphics are considered in the Radeon HD 3200 class. As we found out during FOSDEM, this is the first AMD IGP where the 2D engine is completely eliminated. We would expect this 780G (Radeon HD 3200) to have full support within the Linux Catalyst (fglrx) driver in Catalyst 8.03 (or possibly 8.04), while basic support within the open-source RadeonHD driver may come a bit later as they are still tackling the RS690 IGP.
Hybrid Graphics on Linux, however, is an entirely different matter seeing as there is still no CrossFire support on Linux with any driver. We previously said that we don't expect any CrossFire Linux support for the foreseeable future, however, should this ATI multi-GPU support arrive within the Catalyst Linux driver, we'll no longer be surprised. Once such support arrives, we imagine it would be logical and likely that it's extended to cover Hybrid Graphics. For now though, CrossFire nor Hybrid Graphics are supported under Linux.
The AMD 780 Series press release can be read in the AMD Press Room. We hope to have our hands on some AMD 780 motherboards in the near future for Linux testing. At CeBIT, AMD also demonstrated their first 45nm quad-core processors for desktops and servers (press release).
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