Ubuntu 9.10 Gets Unreleased Catalyst 9.10 Driver
Besides the ATI Catalyst Linux driver still lacking public XvBA support (the library is in the driver, but there's no documentation or public implementations of it) even though we exclusively detailed the X-Video Bitstream Acceleration architecture nearly a year ago for enhancing HD video playback on Linux, the other leading problem we usually end up facing with AMD's proprietary Linux driver is their slow response time with supporting new X Server and kernel releases. AMD's policy has been not to focus on providing support for unreleased kernels/X servers, and then to provide the support once out, but while they do provide new releases on a consistent monthly basis, things usually don't end up working out as planned.
In some cases it has taken AMD months to support new Linux components within their proprietary driver stack to the point that most recently support for the Linux 2.6.29 kernel wasn't even added until after the Linux 2.6.30 kernel had been out. Last year Canonical resorted to publishing an unreleased Catalyst driver within Ubuntu 8.10 so that there would be a ATI driver available to provide proper 3D support to its users, since the public driver at the time had not contained the necessary X.Org server support. This happened again with Ubuntu 9.04 where AMD allowed Canonical to run with an unreleased, beta driver. Well, now we have it a third time.
Catalyst 9.9 is not even out the door yet for Windows or Linux, but a beta release of Catalyst 9.10 can now be found in the Ubuntu 9.10 repository. Most notably, this ATI driver update carries support for the Linux 2.6.31 kernel. A thread talking about AMD Catalyst 9.10 dropped in Ubuntu 9.10 can be found in our forums. Besides the new kernel support, it's also reported that this driver update has some bug fixes, improved suspend-and-resume support, and improved Composite support, but the X-Video support does appear problematic.
The Catalyst 9.10 driver found in the Ubuntu Karmic Koala repository also likely has support for AMD's next-generation "Evergreen" GPU, which is expected to be launched this month under the name of ATI Radeon HD 5800 series.
While one could extract the Catalyst 9.10 driver files from the Debian package found in Karmic, for users of other Linux distributions they will find Catalyst 9.10 in October.
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