AMDGPU-PRO 16.50 Rolls Out With Southern Islands Support, FreeSync

Written by Michael Larabel in Display Drivers on 8 December 2016 at 09:00 AM EST. Page 1 of 4. 95 Comments.

The embargo has just expired on the Radeon Software Crimson ReLive Edition release, which had leaked out a few days ago elsewhere. While Crimson ReLive Edition is a big update for AMD Windows users, on the Linux side there's less to talk about but it's still a rather big release. I've been testing the AMDGPU-PRO 16.50 release the past two weeks and overall it's a sizable update for those using this hybrid AMD Linux driver.

The Radeon Software Crimson ReLive Edition release brings VR improvements, a video capturing tool, a power-saving feature called Radeon Chill, and more. Highlights of today's AMDGPU-PRO 16.50 release for Linux users include:

FreeSync 1.0: The AMD Linux stack finally supports FreeSync! You read that right, FreeSync is finally available for those using the hybrid AMD Linux driver stack and have a supported GCN GPU with capable FreeSync display. FreeSync is AMD's adaptive synchronization technology for dynamically changing the refresh rate of the display to reduce tearing. FreeSync is AMD's alternative to NVIDIA G-SYNC, which has already been supported under Linux. I wasn't briefed by AMD on when they will open-source their FreeSync code, but blocking that anyways is first needing to mainline the DAL/DC code, which isn't coming until Linux 4.11 at the earliest. Thus it's still going to be some months at a minimum before seeing FreeSync in the open-source AMDGPU DRM kernel driver.

GCN 1.0 / Southern Islands Support: With Linux 4.9 the AMDGPU DRM driver added experimental GCN 1.0 / Southern Islands support, which is disabled by default at the kernel's build time. With the AMDGPU-PRO 16.50 release, its DKMS kernel module ships with the GCN 1.0 support enabled along with a supported user-space stack. Indeed, now with the Radeon HD 7000 series GPUs and other GCN 1.0 GPUs tested, there is OpenGL 4.5 and OpenCL atop the hybrid driver stack. Unfortunately, it wasn't stable at all. I was unable to get any GCN 1.0 benchmarks to share today as it was consistently hanging while running graphics tests, sometimes even when just launching Steam. But when popping in newer GCN hardware, those problems didn't appear atop this AMDGPU-PRO stack. So while the GCN 1.0 support is there for AMDGPU-PRO, your mileage may vary upon how usable it is. It's also possible AMD has corrected some GCN 1.0 regressions since they spun their Linux "press" driver for me.

DirectGMA: DirectGMA is now supported by AMDGPU-PRO with FirePro graphics cards. The Direct Graphics Memory Access feature exposes a portion of the graphics card's memory and makes it accessible to other devices on the bus, such as for sharing memory between FirePro GPUs or doing peer-to-peer transfers between multiple graphics cards. Those wanting to learn more about DirectGMA in general can see this page.

Performance: AMD's press briefing did mention of "performance" for this updated Linux driver. I have included some benchmarks of the AMDGPU-PRO 16.50 driver stack, but long story short, didn't really see the performance change much compared to the 16.40 series.

RHEL/CentOS: AMD is now officially supported Vulkan on RHEL/CentOS. Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.3 is also now officially supported.

One other disappointing part to share before some users go try to download this updated hybrid driver release: the AMDGPU-PRO 16.50 release doesn't appear to yet be compatible with newer 4.7+ kernel releases. Thus Ubuntu 16.10 still isn't officially supported yet and trying to run AMDGPU-PRO 16.50 on a newer kernel may run into some performance troubles as previously talked about.

That about covers AMDGPU-PRO 16.50. There isn't anything to pass along this morning about the Radeon Settings panel being ported to Linux or any other big new features coming to this hybrid driver, certainly the big features are FreeSync and GCN 1.0 support while DirectGMA for FirePro users.

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