An Outcry For Improved ATI Linux Drivers
Written by Hakan Bayindir in Display Drivers on 14 April 2007. Page 2 of 5. 7 Comments

Cards Run Hotter & Louder Than Windows

To be honest, if somebody told me this, I'd just laugh hard. Really hard. However, after upgrading to the ATI Radeon X1650XT I experienced this in a very bitter way. I'm using a tight setup because of my awful slot positioning on the Abit AN8 Ultra. The video card has little space for ventilation thanks to my Audigy 2 ZS. Like my X1650XT, my older X1600 has a thermally regulated fan and it was just screaming after 10 minutes of operation. Since the batch of X1600Pros I bought had an infamous thermal paste issue, changing the thermal paste silenced it as a cat. I had done the same to my newer card but it didn't calm down. To measure its temperature, I fired up Windows and I was faced with the truth. The new card was more silent than X1600 under windows with a temperature of 65 degrees Celsius. I pushed it with ATI tools to a peak of 84 degrees. This was the same temperature band with the older card and it was plain confusing. My older card burned my fingers once under Linux too but I thought it was because of the slow fan speed and the nature of the core but apparently, this is not the case. Under Linux, ATI cards really run hotter and this issue results in noise spikes in computer and a overall noisier PC since all my fans are thermally regulated.

OpenGL Performance Is Slow

This is the most visible problem with the AMD/ATI Linux drivers. The problem is that the driver is not performing as good as the Windows counterpart. While you may not notice these differences when you play Armagetron Advanced or X-Moto, you'll probably suffer if you want to play some serious games like Doom 3 or Quake 4 under Linux or you want to do some serious OpenGL work.

While nobody is revealing the details of either the problem or the driver, I think that their old driver architecture may not be playing or scaling well with their new cards or the work required to optimize these drivers are not feasible and as a result their cards overheat, spend cycles with unnecessary instructions and so-on but I'm not and cannot be 100% sure about this issue. Since they are trying to move to a new architecture, which is written from scratch, these problems are likely to disappear if they'll pay attention and work really from their heart on the Linux driver [Editor's Note: see this thread about the rumored new driver].


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