ATI R300: Open v. Closed Drivers

Written by Michael Larabel in Display Drivers on 6 October 2006 at 01:00 PM EDT. Page 5 of 5. Add A Comment.

Like the R200 drivers, if you wish to use the open-source R300 drivers you will likely face a performance struggle even in older Linux native games. At this time the Linux fglrx drivers are significantly slower than the ATI Catalyst Windows suite, while the open-source R300 drivers are even slower. Fortunately, non-gaming desktop users should not face these performance issues. When comparing the R200 drivers merely five months ago the open-source driver's performance was almost cut in half, and our tests today yielded similar results with the Mobility Radeon X300. The image quality was also noticeably better with the fglrx drivers. The R200 support has since been removed from the main fglrx development branch, which leaves the open-source drivers as the main choice for users on vintage hardware. Outside of the gaming performance the open-source drivers do lack TV-out support, dual-link DVI support, and many other features found within the fglrx drivers. One of the other benefits from these drivers come in the form of supporting AIGLX with the GLX_EXT_texture_from_pixmap extension (not to mention the psychological benefits of being able to get by without using binary-only drivers). At this time, we still do not know when AIGLX will be supported by the fglrx drivers.

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Michael Larabel

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