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  • seebs
    started a topic Initial impressions of ATI's drivers...

    Initial impressions of ATI's drivers...

    These aren't great, but they're WAY better than they used to be.

    Some background. I care about precisely three applications:
    * xterm
    * firefox
    * World of Warcraft

    That's it. xterm and firefox work everywhere, so the only interesting thing, to me, is WoW performance.

    Some years back, I had... Hmm. Probably a Radeon 9600 or so. Maybe a 9800. Anyway, I had that on a Windows box, and I was doing some WoW addon development, and I was really hating the Windows experience -- such as the 5 second lag to resync my monitor when I changed from 1600x1200, 60Hz, to 1600x1200, 60Hz. Whatever.

    So I rebooted to Linux, copied some files over, and tried WoW. It ran great... Until I found problems, such as "1 second lag upon changing target" or "1 second lag upon any of a large number of video effects".

    After reading reviews, forum posts, and so on, I went out and picked up a GeForce 7950, swapped drivers, and... It was flawless. Worked better, ran faster. Huge upgrade.

    Since then, I've gone through about 4 nVidia cards, all of which have been livable. There was one brief period where fog rendering got completely broken, which lasted for about one minor driver update.

    Anyway, it's been a while, and I had heard that ATI's drivers were a lot better, so I decided to get a 5750 fanless card (I'm big on fanless cards) and see how it worked.

    Initial impressions:

    * The install process is pretty livable. It worked, anyway.
    * The driver is not especially stable in the face of the sorts of changes one can make through the UI.
    * Especially not in DirectX.
    * OpenGL works.
    * I don't think this card should be noticably slower than a GeForce 9800GT. But it is.

    The most impressive example I got of a Just Plain Crazy failure mode is that enabling full screen glow in DirectX mode causes the entire 3D view to flip upside down. I can't even dignify that with such language as "doesn't make any sense". That's just insane. (Note that the nVidia drivers I used most recently couldn't do full screen glow in directx mode either.)

    The card makes a bit of a high-pitched whine; I'm told that's common on new hardware (indeed, that's why I don't have a GeForce 260 right now -- this one isn't nearly as bad).

    I've had three or four cases where wine dropped into a debugger upon an attempt to change some UI feature. Ugh.

    Overall impressions:
    * Way, WAY better than it was four years ago.
    * Could definitely use work, both on stability and performance.
    * The hardware price/performance/power requirements look to have improved a lot.

    I'm easily annoyed by fan noise and the like, but the big thing to me is that I'm sort of disappointed by the performance. I'd expect a card a full year or so newer to be at least marginally faster, and on paper, the 5750 looks like it should be noticably faster, or at least not particularly slower, than the 9800GT. In practice, it's about 20% slower, maybe a bit more.

    Two years ago, I would not have recommended even trying ATI's Linux drivers. Now, well, they're still clearly second-place, but they're a lot closer. The substantial edge in wattage is pretty attractive, too.

    I do wonder where all the time is going, though. There is no reason for a modern system to be running <30fps in low-population old-world parts of WoW.

  • seebs
    replied
    It did seem that the weird corruption was strongly linked to flame effects.

    For now, I've gone back to the nVidia card -- running it with wine's directx driver, I played for about 8 hours with exactly one crash, and that crash is one that affects Windows users too -- if you have draw distance too large, there's a couple of places where the game can crash from having too much stuff in memory at once.

    Leave a comment:


  • cutterjohn
    replied
    Well, changing sound from 24b to 16b didn't actually help much for windows as the problem popped up a few times yesterday but not as frequently.

    A further note of oddity is that on one of the runs it happened when the GPU went from a cold idle to running the app which triggered the display driver has stopped working immediately after the window completed drawing with GPU temp @ 51C. Also noted while testing Oblivious that this problem almost never happened outdoors unless near a light source primarily of a "flame" type. The problem also appears to happen indoors in lit areas as well, again with a "flame" type light source so I'm suspicious of a Catalyst driver problem relating to whatever is done in that engine for lighting fx, which must be distinct from the effect that they used in the Oblivion zones as I don't recall ever having the problem there and it appears to use a similar lighting effect to that used by "flame" light sources. I'll have to pay more attention to when this occurs in Drakensang and see if I can spot a similarity(unlikely as I don't believe that I can determine which shaders are in use or look at the shader code).

    (Tried all sort of various settings, A.I. standard/high/off, underclocking, lower resolutions, lower gfx settings(shaders still enabled to 3.0 I believe if the Gamebryo setting works, unsure about what Drakensang's engine does), etc. to no avail. This may be related to the WoW problem if GPU specific code that is shared between Windows and linux.)

    Leave a comment:


  • cutterjohn
    replied
    Originally posted by seebs View Post
    Maybe I should try 9.11? Would that work decently with a 5750?
    9.11 you could try it...

    They seem to typically(IME) release new drivers on Wed/Thu 3rd or 4th week of the month, so I'm hoping that 10.3 will be out next week and fix a bunch of these regressions. (Seems like they were more worried about slapping in some sort of 5XXX support than anything over the last 3 releases.)

    Rarely they release drivers earlier in the month, and the only time that I really recall it happening was in December which is easily explained by the end of month holidays.

    Leave a comment:


  • BlackStar
    replied
    Originally posted by seebs View Post
    Maybe I should try 9.11? Would that work decently with a 5750?
    Chances are they won't work at all. The 5750 was released this January, IIRC.

    Leave a comment:


  • seebs
    replied
    Maybe I should try 9.11? Would that work decently with a 5750?

    Leave a comment:


  • BlackStar
    replied
    9.11 was the last stable driver for me. 9.12 would lock up intermittently, and 10.1/10.2 would lock up often.

    10.3 will probably be out next week or so, worth giving a try.

    Leave a comment:


  • seebs
    replied
    I think I'm gonna give up.

    I've done a bunch more testing, and I'm having two major categories of bugs:

    1. Hard hangs, hard enough that I have to hit the physical reset button. Couple-few times a night.
    2. Random polygons shearing across the screen, which comes and goes.

    No, the card's not overheated; it's never made it above 46C. I dunno if the problems are in WINE or in Catalyst, but this is simply not stable enough. With the nVidia drivers, I could frequently play all day without crashing. Sometimes it'd get into a state where it crashed a lot, but at least it would be predictable -- if it was doing that, it'd go poof within 10 minutes. This stuff, I can't tell whether I'm gonna be able to play for ten minutes or two hours, and the constant flickering of stray polygons is pretty unlivable.

    Any notion of when the next drivers will be out, and whether they're likely to make a difference? I would love to see improved stability here, the card is otherwise pretty nice.

    Leave a comment:


  • cutterjohn
    replied
    Mine is actual a notebook, MSI GT725 w/a Radeon Mobility 4850 HD 512MB GDDR3.

    The heatsink is linked with the CPU heatsink which has the actual fan, generally I idle around 47-52C dependent upon time of year, etc. and as far as I have seen Furmark is one of the most GPU stressful apps that I've run and is around the temps that I've seen in many reviews for high temps w/this card(well the desktop variant anyways). So, it seems to be OK for a notebook given the heatsink setup.

    When I was testing a mod for Oblivious, I wasn't even hitting 70C and IIRC the max GPU load that I ever saw was around 75% but generally it was like your WoW report closer to 40% or so. (The only reason I started tracking all of this was because of that atikmdag has stopped working annoyance trying to see if the GPU was overheating, powerplay doing stupid things, etc. but in the end it seems that the integrated sound just doesn't work well at 24b with Catalyst apparently, something which I didn't have a problem with on my desktop with a similar integrated sound chip plus nVidia GPU, but with an AMD CPU(4800+). Anyways this is going way offtopic since this isn't a windows forum and the same problems aren't likely to apply.

    Leave a comment:


  • seebs
    replied
    In WoW, my GPU load pegs at about 30-40% unless the card wedges, in which case it wedges at 99% and nothing ever happens until I reboot the machine.

    Which suggests that my biggest problem is that the game's currently CPU-bound. Bleh.

    On the other hand... Total crashes per day, definitely lower than with nVidia. The only issues I have are horrible graphic corruption with distant lighting effects (or something similar to that, anyway), and the periodic hard hangs that require a machine reset to unstick the GPU.

    The temperature never gets bad at all; I've yet to see it above 45 or so, maybe 46. (This is a passive-cooling card with a ginormous heatsink, and the case fan happens to be blowing air over it...)

    Leave a comment:

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