AMD Already Has Open-Source Fusion Drivers
There's good news for those of you wanting to quickly go out and pickup an AMD Fusion system as soon as it's available: there's already open-source drivers for Fusion.
AMD's Alex Deucher has now confirmed that there are open-source graphics drivers for Fusion on Linux already in existence, but they're just waiting for them to be approved for release. Alex (a.k.a. agd5f) mentioned this in our forums. "Open drivers are already written, just waiting for final approval to release."
While it's a bit of a surprise that the open-source drivers are already written and just behind held up by approval (perhaps more legal reviews), it should not come as a complete surprise that AMD has been working on open-source drivers for this CPU+GPU combo architecture.
Previous from our forums we also learned that while AMD does not yet have open-source Radeon HD 6000 drivers, they had been working on Fusion support much longer. AMD's John Bridgman had wrote, "We'll know more in another week or two. I was expecting the first Fusion parts to launch a bit earlier and the first Northern Island parts to launch a bit later, so I guess you could say we are in better shape for Ontario and worse shape for Barts than we would be in a perfect world." Ontario is AMD's first Fusion APU for netbooks, tablets, and other low-power devices.
It was just on Monday that AMD announced they would begin contributing to MeeGo even though it's a "Nokia & Intel OS", but this move will allow this open-source Linux operating system to gain presence on Fusion operating systems. With the unreleased open-source Fusion Linux drivers, it gives us hope we could see such support already by the time MeeGo 1.2 rolls around next spring.
This open-source Fusion news is also great for the embedded/mobile GPU world when right now it's crippled by binary graphics drivers. Intel's Poulsbo and Moorestown are built upon PowerVR SGX IP graphics, but frankly I am tired of talking about this bloody mess with Poulsbo right now, so if you aren't familiar with the situation read these past articles. There's also an unknown ARM Mali-T604 driver, Qualcomm's half-assed open-source attempt, and other messy situations in the embedded world. There are though improvements coming to this sector for open-source GPU drivers, but regardless it's wonderful to see AMD is prepared with open-source Fusion drivers where they were not with their Radeon HD 6000 series launch.
For those considered about maximum performance and fully taking advantage of Fusion, AMD's Catalyst Linux driver should also support this hardware from day-one. It's also not known to what extent this initial open-source Fusion driver is supported. Kernel mode-setting support from AMD is now a given, but it will be interesting to see if this initial code drop also contains Gallium3D support, which would be awesome. It would be amazing if there was also video acceleration support, but due to the same problems barring AMD from opening up their UVD engine on the Radeon GPUs, it's probably unlikely to see that support officially come from the company.
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