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What's Up With RadeonHD & Nouveau?

Nouveau

Published on 09 October 2009 08:48 AM EDT
Written by Michael Larabel in Nouveau
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Yesterday in the Phoronix Forums it was asked what's up with the Nouveau and RadeonHD drivers, which happens to be a very good question. The last time we had much to report on with regard to RadeonHD, the driver created by Novell for use with ATI R500+ GPUs, was back in July when it received better power management capabilities. The last time we had much to report on with Nouveau, the community-spawned driver to provide an open-source 2D/3D driver for NVIDIA hardware, was back in April when talking about using the Nouveau driver in Ubuntu 9.04. The last time, however, that there was a Nouveau Companion update was back in March. While news and major advancements with these two open-source drivers have been lacking lately, both projects are still surely in existence.

The RadeonHD driver continues to see new code commits, albeit at a slower rate than in the past after losing a developer, and there hasn't been as much exciting work going into xf86-video-radeonhd when compared against the xf86-video-ati driver. Since the start of September to date there have been 36 commits to the RadeonHD driver, but nearly all of them have been to address bug-fixes, quirks, and the like. The RadeonHD developers are currently preparing for a new release, xf86-video-radeonhd 1.2.6, which should be out in a matter of days. The current stable release of the RadeonHD driver came back in April.

The Nouveau driver also continues to receive new work with its xf86-video-nouveau DDX and Nouveau DRM as well as to its Nouveau Gallium3D driver in Mesa. Unfortunately though there hasn't been a lot of major advancements forward lately and the Nouveau project has yet to put out a stable release. Pushing the Nouveau DRM code into the Linux 2.6.32 kernel to provide NVIDIA kernel mode-setting support did not happen and it's not clear when this will happen to at least have a stable 2D driver release. The 3D driver via Gallium3D is still a ways out.

There is a TODO list for Nouveau along with the current feature matrix. This feature matrix shows that basic 2D support along with X-Video playback acceleration is working for all NVIDIA cards from the NV04 ASIC up through the latest NV50 GPUs, but X Render acceleration is still being tackled for NV50. Nearly all of the 3D capabilities for the different generations of NVIDIA hardware have yet to be implemented. Likewise, features like RandR 1.2, NouveauFB, TV-Out, power-savings, and even dual-link DVI still need to be implemented for much of NVIDIA's hardware.

It's unfortunate that the RadeonHD and Nouveau projects are not accelerating as fast as some would like, but feel free to give them a hand if you wish as neither project would resist new development support. Hopefully in the near future we will have better news to report from both projects.

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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