Radeon R9 290 Testing Update With Linux 4.10, AMDGPU-PRO 16.50

Written by Michael Larabel in Radeon on 2 January 2017 at 06:30 PM EST. 31 Comments
With the post Christmas ad rate slowdown I finally found the time to run some fresh tests on my Radeon R9 290 that since around Linux 4.7 has been performing abnormally slow but has been working fine with AMDGPU-PRO. I carried out some tests with Linux 4.10 and also ensured linux-firmware.git was the latest, but still it's somewhat of a mystery.

My XFX Radeon R9 290 and other select "Hawaii" GPU owners have been experiencing rather slow performance for months. While unfortunately AMD hadn't been able to reproduce it, recent thinking within the forums as of a few weeks ago was that the linux-firmware shipped by Ubuntu is out-of-date. Well, I ran some fresh tests to verify: using the linux-firmware.git, ensuring it's indeed overwriting the Radeon firmware files, and that the initramfs was updated...
Radeon R9 290 Hawaii Testing

I ran tests with the Ubuntu 16.04 stock firmware using the Linux 4.10 kernel, then with Linux 4.10 when ensuring the firmware files from Git were installed and updated for the running kernel, and also a run when using Padoka PPA atop the Ubuntu 16.04 installation. Also, a AMDGPU-PRO 16.50 run from the same card for comparison.
Radeon R9 290 Hawaii Testing

Radeon R9 290 Hawaii Testing

For some tests, the Radeon R9 290 is still abnormally slow even with the latest firmware files.
Radeon R9 290 Hawaii Testing

Radeon R9 290 Hawaii Testing

Radeon R9 290 Hawaii Testing

But with other tests the firmware files on the Radeon R9 290 do indeed appear to have a positive impact.

Looks like I'll be running some more exploration tests the week ahead... For what it's worth, as mentioned in my previous R9 290 testing article, "But what's rather strange is that after either a certain operation with GpuTest, length of time, or other internal change, the Radeon R9 290 was back to running fast for the remainder of the automated OpenGL benchmarks." So stay tuned for more tests in the days ahead and likely trying some other non-Ubuntu distributions as well; I was optimistic that perhaps the Linux firmware blobs being outdated was what was causing the performance interference, but it doesn't appear to entirely be the case. Meanwhile with AMDGPU-PRO at least this card is still working fine.
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About The Author
Michael Larabel

Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com 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 OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter, LinkedIn, or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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