AMD Linux 2008 Year in Review
Written by Michael Larabel in Display Drivers on 15 December 2008. Page 11 of 11. 27 Comments

While many users continue to have hardship over AMD on Linux, 2008 was another significant year for this company on Linux. This year AMD Linux customers were presented with CrossFire, OverDrive, Catalyst AI, Stream Computing, new anti-aliasing functions, MultiView, SurroundView, and the list goes on. Perhaps though the most significant change this year is now AMD's decision to ensure that when new GPUs ship there will be an available Linux driver. With every graphics card we have tested since June, this has been the case and we look forward to it remaining this way. It was despicable having to wait many months for any level of R500 and R600 support on Linux, but now Advanced Micro Devices is finally treating its Linux users as first-rate customers. Not only is there same-day support, but from all of our testing done over the past six months, this initial support has been dependable and works very well. The new features introduced this year like CrossFire and OverDrive have also functioned well and just have not been hacked together and pushed out in a beta form.

When AMD had made the evolutionary step in ensuring equal Linux features and support, we were told by multiple AMD representatives -- even when in person at their launch event -- that some AIB partners would ship the Linux driver on their product CD and showcase Tux on the product packaging. It has been over six months and we have yet to see a single product that has either of these attributes. Hopefully this will come to fruition in 2009, as it's becoming apparent from our work and communications that more of AMD's partners are concerning themselves with Linux.

Looking at our benchmarks of the Catalyst 8.1 through 8.12 releases, overall the performance has evolved quite well. When AMD introduced their new OpenGL driver last year we finally had a modest level of performance within Linux games, but this continues to be improved with each new driver release. Where AMD needs to spend more time optimizing their drivers is with WINE as is very evident from our tests. Besides that, there still could be some 2D / X Render improvements, but overall the performance of the Catalyst Linux driver is in great shape.

In 2009 we will hopefully see these few shortcomings be addressed as well as officially introducing X-Video Bitstream Acceleration. If AMD hopes to compete strongly against NVIDIA's VDPAU (their already released equivalent), they will need to release a reliable implementation of XvBA sooner rather than later.

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Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com 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 OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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