Back in January there was talk of GPU object support for RandR 1.3 and then in late October the RandR properties support started to come together. Today though, Novell's Matthias Hopf has sent thirteen patches to the X.Org mailing list that introduce RandR 1.3 for xrandr, randrproto, libXrandr, and the X Server.
With this RandR 1.3 support comes panning support. To use the panning option through the command-line xrandr utility is the --panning argument. Patches have already been supplied that make the RadeonHD driver compatible with RandR 1.3 and its panning capabilities.
While RandR 1.3.0 is available today through these patches, it won't become mainstream for a few months until the various distribution vendors have adopted the respective packages following the release of X Server 1.6 in January.