It Looks Like AMD Will Support FreeSync With Their New Linux Display Stack

Written by Michael Larabel in AMD on 13 February 2016 at 03:29 PM EST. 37 Comments
While NVIDIA has long supported G-SYNC on Linux as their adaptive sync technology for eliminating screen tearing, AMD hasn't supported their FreeSync tech via their open or closed-source Linux drivers. Fortunately, it's looking like that will change.

FreeSync is designed to reduce tearing, help battery life, and more via dynamically adapting the display refresh rate as needed. There are more and more FreeSync-supported displays hitting the market and FreeSync is backed by VESA as an option in the DisplayPort 1.2a specification. AMD Linux customers have been missing out on this feature, but it appears as part of the new AMDGPU DAL driver where they are working towards feature display parity with the proprietary driver, FreeSync is on the TODO list.

In looking to address the concerns by upstream developers about the massive size and complexity of DAL, AMD's Harry Wentland described the architecture a bit more. Here's the main part of his message:
The goal with DAL is to provide a unified, full featured display stack to service all of our Linux offerings. This driver will have to support our full feature set beyond what's supported by amdgpu, e.g.
- synchronzied timings across different displays
- freesync
- solid support of 6 displays in any configuration (HDMI, DVI, DP, DP MST, etc)
- solid support of 4k at 60 timings on APUs
- power features, such as
- clock-accurate bandwidth formulas
- improved interaction with powerplay to maximize power savings
- Improved audio and other infoframe related features
- Improved stability with powerplay since display hw is involved in the SMC hw interactions and improper programming sequences can lead to GPU hangs, etc.

The current amdgpu display stack grew somewhat organically and as such is not well suited to handling all of the hardware dependencies involved especially in areas like audio. The drm abstractions used by the old code map less and less well to new hw pipelines. Atomic helps, but if we are going to convert, it seemed like a good time to start fresh.
FreeSync is mentioned along with other exciting work like synchronized timings across displays, better multi-monitor support, improved stability, and more power management related features! Let's hope this all pans out in a timely manner.

He also explained more with their reasoning for some of the code abstraction, how their display core doesn't always map well to the DRM interfaces, the DAL internal abstractions match what is used by the AMD drivers on other operating systems, and how they can further trim this ~93k lines of code (there's a lot of blank lines and code comments).
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Michael Larabel is the principal author of and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 20,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter, LinkedIn, or contacted via

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