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X.Org ATI Driver Supports New Power Options

AMD

Published on 15 April 2009 12:34 PM EDT
Written by Michael Larabel in AMD
112 Comments

Besides seeing 3D acceleration for their hardware in an open-source driver, one of the other leading requests from ATI Radeon customers has been to see improved power management within the ATI X.Org driver stack. There is Dynamic Clocks support and some other power management capabilities, along with some more innovative ways, but ATI's PowerPlay is not fully implemented in the open-source stack. Today though committed to the xf86-video-ati driver is support for two new power management features. The two new power options in this open-source driver are ForceLowPowerMode and DynamicPM, both of which are xorg.conf options.

The ForceLowPowerMode will force the graphics processor to always run in a low-power mode, while DynamicPM will adjust the power management behavior based upon DPMS (the Display Power Management Settings). In the DynamicPM mode, the low-power option will only be used when the system is idling. Both options will reduce the performance potential of the ATI graphics processor, but will consume less power and generate less heat.

The ForceLowPowerMode and DynamicPM will clock down both the GPU core and memory speeds along with only using PCI Express x2 bandwidth (instead of PCI-E x16) when operating in the low-power mode. The core and memory clock adjusting is supported through AtomBIOS on the R500 series and later, but there is also hard-coded support for the R100 through R400 hardware.

Checkout the latest Git code of the xf86-video-ati driver to access these options. At this time, these options cannot be found in the xf86-video-radeonhd driver.

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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