AMD A8-3850 With Radeon HD 6550D Running On Linux
While unfortunate that the AMD Llano system appears broken, at least for this hardware configuration, it's not terribly surprising. It took several months for the initial Fusion support to stabilize for my E-350 test system and it took even longer for the Radeon HD 6000 series open-source support to mature. Only recently are the Northern Islands and Cayman GPUs from the HD 6000 series now working well on the open-source driver. Going forward, the turnaround time will hopefully be shorter with AMD's new open-source developers and some upcoming milestones.
The Gallium3D driver will hopefully "just work" fairly well for Llano since the Ontario Fusion APUs are now well supported by the latest Mesa code. The Llano support continues to build upon the "R600g" driver that supports the spectrum of Radeon HD hardware since the HD 2000 series. The open-source Llano code will hopefully work properly in two weeks when returning to the United States. For now, the A8-3850 was just tested using the Catalyst driver.
With Llano being new to the market, using the latest Catalyst driver is recommended over the Catalyst 11.4 pre-release that is available from the Ubuntu 11.04 "Natty Narwhal" repository. In particular, Catalyst 11.6 or later is recommended. For the testing in this article, the Catalyst 11.6 Linux driver was used and it had worked just fine during our tests.
OpenGL 4.1 is supported by the Catalyst driver along with OpenCL 1.1 (unlike the open-source driver that is limited to OpenGL 2.1 with only support for some OpenGL 3.0 extensions and no working OpenCL support). Additionally, the Catalyst driver does allow the Unified Video Decoder engine to be used under Linux via the XvBA (X-Video Bitstream Acceleration) library and the VA-API front-end interfacing with the multi-media applications. Unfortunately, XvBA still is not as good as NVIDIA's VDPAU, the Video Decode and Presentation API for Unix.
The AMD A8-3850 was tested with the Gigabyte GA-A75M-UD2H motherboard with 4GB of RAM and a 60GB OCZ Vertex 2 SSD. Beyond testing the integrated Radeon HD 6550D graphics with 512MB of system memory, the following discrete graphics cards were also benchmarked for comparison purposes: Radeon HD 4650, Radeon HD 5450, Radeon HD 5750, Radeon HD 6570, GeForce GT 240, and GeForce GT 520. The ATI/AMD Radeon graphics cards were benchmarked using the Catalyst 11.6 (fglrx 8.86.5) proprietary driver while the NVIDIA GeForce graphics cards had the 280.11 Beta. Ubuntu 11.04 was the base operating system with the 64-bit Linux 2.6.38 kernel, X.Org Server 1.10.1, an EXT4 file-system, GCC 4.5.2, and LLVM 2.8.
The assortment of Linux-native OpenGL benchmarks included Nexuiz, Warsow, Lightsmark, VDrift, Unigine Sanctuary, Unigine Tropics, and Unigine Heaven. Testing was, of course, facilitated by the Phoronix Test Suite. Results are also available via the Phoronix-owned OpenBenchmarking.org.