AMD A8-3850 With Radeon HD 6550D Running On Linux
Written by Michael Larabel in Graphics Cards on 27 July 2011. Page 2 of 6. 23 Comments

The Gigabyte E-Series Fusion motherboard also supports AMD Dual/Hybrid Graphics for taking advantage of the Fusion-based graphics as well as a discrete Radeon HD 6000 series graphics card. Unfortunately for Linux users, CrossFireX and Dual Graphics aren't too useful due to the lack of demanding OpenGL games compared to Windows. Simply having one very high-end Radeon HD graphics card is more than powerful enough to handle modern Linux games.

The A75M-UD2H experienced no problems when installing Ubuntu 11.04 (x86_64) to the system with the Linux 2.6.38 kernel -- including network and audio. Of course, there's a caveat when it comes to graphics, but that's what we're about to talk about. More information regarding the specifics of the Gigabyte A75M-UD2H will be talked about in the other upcoming Llano articles.

When installing Ubuntu 11.04 with the AMD A8-3850 and using the integrated Radeon HD 6550D graphics, the VESA driver is used. The Llano kernel mode-setting support didn't land in the mainline kernel until the Linux 3.0 release. At the end of May, they also released the Mesa / Gallium3D support along with the xf86-video-ati DDX support to match the Radeon DRM/KMS driver. When Ubuntu 11.04 is installed or any other distributions not shipping with the very latest support "out of the box", the option is either to then upgrade the Linux kernel / Mesa / DDX or install the Catalyst driver.

The original aim of this article was to compare the Llano Fusion Gallium3D driver performance developed by AMD's open-source team and the Linux community to that of the official but proprietary Catalyst driver. Unfortunately, while the Llano code is currently out there, for the configuration that was tested it was broken. When the Radeon DRM driver initialized the Radeon HD 6550D with any of the outputs, the display was black and there was just some static corruption along the top or bottom of the screen. It's faintly reminiscent of some voltage control and memory problems from the open-source Linux driver in the past, but due to being short on time due to Norway and the Berlin Desktop Summit, there wasn't time to investigate further or attempt to fix the issue.

The drm-next tree of David Airlie's as of 24 July was also tested, which includes the code that will shortly be pulled into the Linux 3.1 kernel, but that Radeon DRM driver also had the same set of issues. There wasn't anything noteworthy being reported from the dmesg output on either the 3.0 or 3.1 kernel. Without even being able to properly drive any display, the open-source Mesa / Gallium3D driver for Llano couldn't be tested at all.



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