Going back to last year we have exclusively been reporting on AMD's new HD video decoding interface, which is called XvBA. This interface for use with UVD2 GPUs is properly known as X-Video Bitstream Acceleration, which we have already described at length. XvBA itself has been supported by the proprietary ATI Catalyst Linux driver going back to Q4'08, but AMD has yet to release the documentations to this video API so developers of multimedia programs can implement this support. Of course, they also haven't released any patches themselves to add XvBA support to any programs, thereby rendering the current ATI Linux HD video decoding support as useless. Meanwhile, NVIDIA's VDPAU video API that was introduced around the same time continues to flourish with it being adopted by most Linux multimedia programs and it offers impressive results. Finally though it looks like AMD may be prepared to launch XvBA formally this summer.
AMD's John Bridgman has shared that the open-source R600/700 3D driver for Linux is becoming usable, slowly but surely. Months after releasing documentation, a programmer's guide, and sample code, their Mesa driver is beginning to do useful things -- more so than just rendering simple triangles.
With the forthcoming Linux 2.6.31 kernel there is finally Radeon kernel mode-setting support so that those running ATI graphics cards on Linux will be able to experience a cleaner boot process, faster VT switching, improved security, and other overdue features for Linux. Using kernel mode-setting with ATI Radeon hardware will require a supported kernel that is built with the appropriate kernel configuration options.
Yesterday the TTM memory manager and Radeon kernel mode-setting code entered the mainline Linux kernel Git tree, which means it will be part of the next Linux 2.6.31 kernel release. In the 2.6.31 series this new Radeon driver will be marked as "staging" as there is still some work left to be accomplished and further testing needs to be done with this driver and different Radeon graphics cards. One of the items that had not been addressed in this initial code push was much in the way of security, however, already that has partially changed.
AMD has pushed out a new Catalyst driver update for Linux users this afternoon. The two new features in this release, as mentioned by their release notes (PDF), is support for new Linux distributions and MultiView support for Radeon hardware.
If you closely follow the Phoronix Forums you already know that the Catalyst 9.5 Linux driver is available for download. In fact, it has been available since this past Friday on their web server, but it was not officially announced and linked to from their driver web-site until now. The Catalyst 9.5 driver release notes do not mention much, in fact they are basically a facsimile of the Catalyst 9.4 driver release notes.
While the xf86-video-ati driver continues to churn along receiving new code and frequent releases, there has not been too much to report on with the xf86-video-radeonhd driver lately. There was the RadeonHD 1.2.5 release over a month ago, but not a lot of interesting commits can be found in the RadeonHD driver over the past few weeks and these Novell developers suffered in recent layoffs. One of the few remaining feature differences between the -ati and -radeonhd drivers is with regard to HDMI audio support.
To those of you interested in AMD's new graphics card, the ATI Radeon HD 4770, it does work with Linux. Right now you can run this first 40nm GPU using Catalyst 9.4, but you will see an "unsupported hardware" logo in the lower right hand corner. There may also be a few other bugs. Coming out soon will be Catalyst 9.5 and it will contain proper support for the Radeon HD 4770. The open-source ATI X.Org drivers (xf86-video-ati and xf86-video-radeonhd) do not yet support the RV740 GPU and when adding in the new PCI ID (0x94B3) it will not even mode-set correctly. However, open-source support for the Radeon HD 4770 should come relatively soon.
AMD's Alex Deucher has delivered a new Textured Video implementation in the xf86-video-ati driver. While this video acceleration is not ideal as say VDPAU, VA-API, or even just XvMC it will certainly be appreciated by ATI customers.
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.
In a Phoronix Forums thread where a user had asked about the open-source 3D support status for the ATI R600/700 hardware in Mesa, AMD's John Bridgman has shared that it might be coming next week. It has been a long time coming, but the developers for the past few months have been working on the Mesa and updated DRM code in a private code repository, but next week we could finally see that code pushed into a public Mesa branch.
The RadeonHD 1.2.4 driver was released back in December and since then a lot of work has went into this open-source driver through the partnership between AMD and Novell. Over the past few months they have made significant process, but also faced some setbacks, like losing a key X developer. Yesterday the xf86-video-ati driver was updated, but now this morning we have an update finally for xf86-video-radeonhd.
AMD's Alex Deucher has released the xf86-video-ati 6.12.2 driver this morning, not to be confused with the official Catalyst 9.4 proprietary driver that will come later this month. The open-source ATI driver update has a fair number of changes for this point release. In particular, the 6.12.2 release has lots of bug fixes and Textured Video / X-Video improvements. Additionally, there is mode-setting support for the ATI Radeon HD 4890 graphics card that was released late last month usng the ATI RV790 GPU.
Back in January there was the release of the R600/700 3D documentation that is being used along with some open-source code to begin powering up the Radeon HD 2000/3000/4000 hardware with OpenGL acceleration support in Mesa. Some of this code should be out soon, but this past week AMD has released some more NDA-free documentation. This time the documentation concerns the R700 Instruction Set Architecture (ISA).
AMD's current flagship offering when it comes to integrated ATI graphics is the Radeon HD 3300 / 790GX. This IGP was introduced last fall as a minor refresh to the Radeon HD 3200 / 780G Chipset. As something new for consumers to consider, soon it looks like AMD will be introducing the RS880. The RS880 will likely have a marketing name within the Radeon HD 4000 series and will be their fastest integrated graphics solution, well, for now.
Early this morning we shared that AMD is dropping R300 through R500 support in the Catalyst driver. Beginning with the Catalyst 9.4 release, the Windows and Linux drivers will only support the R600 and R700 series (and eventually, R800) of ATI Radeon graphics processors. However, when writing that article we had no official response whether the Catalyst 9.3 legacy driver would support X Server 1.6. We can confirm now, however, that the R300-500 series legacy driver will not support this newest X.Org server release.
Due to the tough economic conditions around the world, Novell last month began slashing some of their workforce. With that reduction, a good percentage of the paid OpenSuSE developers were laid off. As a major blow to the development of the open-source ATI graphics stack, one of the key RadeonHD driver developers has been lost. The key xf86-video-radeonhd developers from the start of this driver have been Luc Verhaegen, Matthias Hopf, and Egbert Eich. Well, there are now just two key Novell developers left working on the RadeonHD project.
While AMD continues to improve the ATI Catalyst Linux driver from where they were at years ago by introducing new features like CrossFire and OpenGL 3.0 support while addressing outstanding bugs, no Linux graphics driver is yet in a perfect state. As a result from our post yesterday we have read many driver complaints for both ATI and NVIDIA on Linux. However, the Arch Linux developers in particularly have become fed up with AMD/ATI and their proprietary driver.
In late December AMD had released R600/700 3D code that allowed open-source triangles to be drawn and a AtomBIOS decompiler also came out of Novell just a few days later. In late January we were then greeted by public R600/700 3D documentation. While no working 3D support has yet to appear in the Mesa stack, the 2D EXA acceleration and X-Video support has matured relatively quickly. This work has now made its way into the mainline code for the open-source ATI stack.
A day after the ATI Catalyst 9.2 driver update was issued for Windows, Catalyst 9.2 for Linux is now available. However, there really isn't much at all to see with this release. There are no new features, but there are sixteen known resolved issues. None of the fixes in this proprietary Linux driver update are particularly interesting.
Just a week ago there was a new release candidate for the xf86-video-ati driver, but today the ATI 6.11.0 driver has been officially unveiled. Worth noting in this open-source X.Org driver update is a CRTC/output/encoder rework and Render extension repeat mode fixes. The xf86-video-ati 6.11.0 driver also has quite a few bug fixes since the release of xf86-video-ati 6.10, which happened just a month and a half ago.
David Airlie as part of his work at Red Hat has been rewriting a fair chunk of the Radeon 3D driver support in Mesa. In the radeon-rewrite branch of Mesa, David has been adding support for bufmgr to all three of the Radeon 3D drivers (going back to the ATI R100/200 series) while working with our without a kernel memory manager. With this rewritten code, it's also being worked on for adding DRI2 and FBO (Frame Buffer Object) support. This work is also needed for the GEM (Graphics Execution Manager) support.
Late last year AMD had released R600/700 3D code and in late January had then released R600 3D register documentation to begin work on an open-source driver stack supporting the latest ATI Radeon GPUs with 3D acceleration. One of AMD's partners in this open-source work has been Novell, which wrote an open-source utility to begin sending 3D commands to the GPU in a very primitive form and to analyze the different operations. This utility is called r600_demo, which we explain in full detail here.
Alex Deucher has announced a new release candidate for the next xf86-video-ati driver release. The xf86-video-ati 6.11 release has a major rework when it comes to the display output code along with a memory corruption fix for the ATI RS780 memory controller. There are also quite a few bug-fixes in this first xf86-video-ati 6.11 RC1 build. The full change-log can be found on the X.Org mailing list.
AMD this morning has announced five new Phenom II processors. What is special about these processors, however, is that they use the Socket AM3 and they support DDR3 system memory rather than the DDR2 memory type they had long been using. There are Phenom II X3 and Phenom II X4 processors that now support DDR3 memory. Of course, with these new AM3 processors from AMD you will need a new supportive motherboard. Sadly, however, we have none of these new Phenom II processors from Linux so we are unable to tell you anything about their Linux support -- no performance figures or even if they work at all. Hopefully the troubles aren't there like when the Phenom was first introduced on Linux.
In late December, AMD had released open-source R600/700 code used to begin supporting 2D and 3D acceleration for the latest ATI graphics processors under Linux using an open-source stack. This code in its initial form just provided basic but fast 2D acceleration and on the 3D side was only able to draw triangles. This month an AMD Video BIOS Disassembler was released by Novell, which is one of AMD's open-source partners. This evening, however, AMD has released its R600 3D specifications to the general public.
AMD's Alex Deucher has announced the release of the xf86-video-ati 6.10.0 driver. This open-source ATI graphics driver update brings forth bi-cubic scaling on R300/400/500/690 chipsets, new ASICs are supported by this DDX driver, reduced X-Video tearing, and quite a few bug-fixes.
It's been nearly six months since xf86-video-ati 6.9.0 was released, but we're finally nearing a new version of this open-source ATI driver. David Airlie has announced the release of the first xf86-video-ati 6.9.1 release candidate.
David Airlie has shared that he's been working on the TV-Out support for the xf86-video-ati driver on the newer card generations. Last year there was Radeon TV-Out support for the older ATI graphics cards, but David Airlie now has it working on the R500/600 series and is about ready with the R700 series support.
While the Novell developers responsible for the xf86-video-radeonhd driver have been busy working on OpenSuSE 11.1, we have managed to get a new driver point release before the end of the year. Matthias Hopf has this morning announced the availability of the RadeonHD 1.2.4 driver.
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