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Is laptop with Intel CPU and AMD dGPU worth buying considering especially AMD Enduro?

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  • Is laptop with Intel CPU and AMD dGPU worth buying considering especially AMD Enduro?

    Some HD 7000 graphic cards have support for AMD Enduro technology and most of (all? ) AMD HD 8000 series graphic cards have support too. As far as I now AMD Enduro introduced interesting feature (at least in Windows): Enduro enabled card can GPU switching betwen itself and GPU within CPU, regardless it is AMD or Intel's integrated GPU. Is AMD Enduro works seamlessy on Linux in the way that Nvidia's Optimus works on Windows? It really doesn't matter if I can achieve that by binary drivers or open source ones. I only want card that can enable itself when it is needed. I realy want opinions from consumers that have laptop with this technology, not from those that have stereotype point of view or prejudiced opinion.
    Sorry for my English.

  • #2
    I can only speak for intel 4000 + HD 7970M

    AMD's closed source driver have only rudimentary support for it. Last time I tried You had to run a script, then restart X and then maybe it worked, but often it didn't quite work and X wouldn't start and you had to reboot... Not good.

    Bumblebee could theoretically support it. There's a long thread:
    Apparently it kind of works, but not too easily as of now:


    The open source radeonsi driver has been working for a while with dma-buf/prime:
    You need moderatly recent, mesa etc. and glamor, then just have to do
    xrandr --setprovideroffloadsink 1 0
    and then everything you start with the environment variable DRI_PRIME=1 will be rendered by the radeon card.
    But the driver itself is not so good yet. Most open source games work, some closed source games work, but for example valve's source engine doesn't work yet.

    As far as I am aware there is no automatic/seamless switching yet. And for moving running 3d programs from one GPU to another, I think if it'll ever happen, it'll be a long time.

    Automatic power off of the discrete card doesn't happen yet. You can use
    echo ON > /sys/kernel/debug/vgaswitcheroo/switch
    echo OFF > /sys/kernel/debug/vgaswitcheroo/switch
    to enable and disable it. However there is a possibility this bug will hit you with vgaswitcheroo
    Dave Airlie has been working on automatically powering off the discrete gpu when it's not used.


    • #3
      Ok, I tried their newest OpenGL 4.3 testing driver:
      OpenGL vendor string: Advanced Micro Devices, Inc.
      OpenGL renderer string: AMD Radeon HD 7970M
      OpenGL version string: 4.3.12414 Compatibility Profile Context 12.10.17
      Let's just say, it's not what I'd call ideal.
      1. There still doesn't seem to be dynamic switching. Maybe I'll try bumblebee again.
      2. One screen is kind of ok. Two screens... What can I say? No really, what can I say to this?

      Does nobody at AMD have this hardware to test? Or do they just not bother about their top highend hardware at all, even on their "supported" distributions like ubuntu?
      (Of course someone has reported that: about six months ago)
      Maybe I'll try bumblebee again.

      If you ever get asked what's wrong with proprietary drivers, fglrx is your answer. If you value open source drivers, buy it. If you just want to use the proprietary driver: Forget it. It just plain doesn't work correctly.


      • #4
        First of all thanks for the answer. I didn't replied earlier, but I had read reply from ChrisXY. I am a member of the forum and newcomer wants to buy laptop with discrete Radeon. I am curious, and he is too, what is the state of switching between discrete graphics and Intel GPU today.
        Last edited by coastiron; 08-31-2014, 02:51 PM.


        • #5
          Works good enough here, (Fedora 20 X 1.14, 3.15 kernel, mesa 10.1.5 on Dell Vostro i7 Ivy + Radeon 7670m) I put set provider line in bash_profile.
          and added DRI_PRIME=1 to selected launchers. GPU siwtching works like charm, batery life is decent. what else to say.

          WIth recent performance of foss driver I'm not even tempted to try fglrx.


          • #6
            I have not tested the closed source driver for many months. Maybe it is better, I don't know.

            With the open source driver there is now proper power management, proper runtime power management (it shuts completely off when it is not used) and with a very new mesa (and dri3?) there is no need for setting up something with xrandr anymore, DRI_PRIME=1 will run a program on some GPU that is not used for the main X server automatically. And also it should be possible to set up with driconf which binaries are rendering with which gpu, but I haven't looked at that.

            The open source driver is good enough for most games but currently it is by far not as fast as it should be.


            • #7
              I have an intel hd4000 + amd hd 7730M.

              I didn't test closed source drivers for a long time, but when I tested them I remember having a lot of difficulties with them, and a lot of tearings (vsync unimplemented in this scenario).

              With current kernel with the open source driver, I have good power management, the card shutdowns and fires up automatically when needed.

              I worked on improving the 'enduro'-like support of the open source drivers.
              I never managed to get working the solution based on DRI2 on Ubuntu (though it worked on Arch and OpenSuze).
              However I managed to have the new solution I designed for DRI3 working. DRI3 is not shipped yet much, but it is only a matter of time all distro ship it.

              Also with the new solution you can add to a configuration file which card should be used for some apps, whereas else you have to use the command line (DRI_PRIME=1).

              I'm working on an configuration app to replace driconf, that would better work with several cards in the same computer,
              and it can already detect the cards, say what works on them (egl, glx, gl version, etc), enable to manage driver options for them.
              It can also detect running apps using the gpu and enable to say which gpu should be used for them, much like the Catalyst driver can do on Windows.

              As for performance, it's not as good as it could be, but a few month ago I had tested an experimental patch to improve performance that made smooth for me the scenarios where the card was having bad performance compared to what it could have in theory. It had bugs and the author had a lot of other things to do, but that makes me think that the remaining issues are not far from being solved.


              • #8
                Originally posted by mannerov View Post
                new solution I designed for DRI3
                You're Axel Davy?
                Would you accept bitcoin donations?


                • #9
                  Originally posted by ChrisXY View Post
                  You're Axel Davy?
                  Would you accept bitcoin donations?
                  I don't do that for money, thanks.

                  But if you know how to design good UI, you can help polish my driconf replacement. It's not very friendly for now.


                  • #10
                    AMD Enduro

                    Hi, I am not that well versed when it comes to graphic cards but upon reading , I found out that AMD Enduro is designed to unlock the full potential of your the performance of a laptop, likewise to maximize battery life. It also gives the best performance needed.