AMD Moves Forward With Unified Linux Driver Strategy, New Kernel Driver

Written by Michael Larabel in Display Drivers on 8 October 2014 at 09:45 AM EDT. Page 3 of 3. 57 Comments.

In order for this strategy to really work, AMD will need to (if it hasn't quietly done so already) increase its open-source investment. Now with Catalyst also depending upon the future DRM driver, they need to get their new hardware enablement done publicly well in advance of future hardware launches -- so that the code can be aligned for hitting a stable Linux kernel release in time of the hardware's general availability. Up to now their open-source Radeon DRM support for new hardware has generally come post-launch and then it takes a number of weeks before reaching a stable kernel. Perhaps the new Catalyst driver will also ship with updated open-source DRM code of the new kernel driver in a DKMS-friendly manner? We'll see. They will also need to do something about the slow-moving enterprise kernels of SUSE Linux Enterprise, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, etc, so I wouldn't be surprised if the new Catalyst Linux driver also included an open-source DKMS-compatible snapshot of their new kernel driver to apply to older kernels, but none of that information has been confirmed.

AMD Radeon R9 290 open-source fans are still waiting on driver improvements... See AMD Radeon R9 290: Gallium3D vs. Catalyst Drivers.

AMD will also need to step up the game in general considering AMD R9 290 open-source support only recently started working but even there for these top-end AMD GPUs the re-clocking code doesn't always seem to work right given its poor performance numbers. The sad thing is that the Radeon R9 290 series is now one year old, so let's certainly hope this new unified driver strategy will lead to more hands touching this new AMD DRM kernel driver. Times are certainly interesting to say the least!

When the new AMD Linux kernel driver does come, you can know for sure it will be benchmarked at Phoronix.

Stay tuned to Phoronix for more details on AMD's evolving Linux driver strategy soon as we have more details along with our other coverage of sessions from this week's XDC2014 Bordeaux conference. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ for the latest Linux hardware news. If you like all our Linux work and often exclusive news, subscribe to Phoronix Premium.

Update (12:00PM CST): I've received a copy the of the "AMDGPU" Linux slide deck to share.

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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