It Looks Like HDMI FreeSync/VRR For Linux + Wayland Support Will Eventually Come For AMD
Written by Michael Larabel in AMD on 4 October 2019 at 12:57 PM EDT. 23 Comments
AMD --
AMD provided an update on their Linux FreeSync/Adaptive-Sync support at this week's X.Org Developers Conference event in Montreal. There's good news both for HDMI and Wayland Linux users with Radeon graphics.

Harry Wentland, a longtime member of the AMD driver team and patch wrangler around the DC display code, was the presenter at XDC2019. One of the big complaints of the AMD FreeSync/Adaptive-Sync Linux support to date has been the lack of supporting HDMI outputs... Wentland explained that on Windows, AMD uses a proprietary AMD-developed protocol for enabling FreeSync on HDMI. Obviously that won't fly for the open-source AMDGPU kernel driver. But as for the formal HDMI Variable Rate Refresh (VRR) support, they note it's "pending" but held up by a HDMI VRR conformance test suite being released. So hopefully once that CTS is available, HDMI VRR will be flipped on for Linux users wishing to enjoy Adaptive-Sync/VRR functionality for HDMI displays.

On the user-space side, RadeonSI OpenGL, Orace (proprietary AMDGPU-PRO driver) OpenGL support, and RADV Vulkan driver support. No comments were made on whether they intend to support FreeSync/VRR with their open-source AMDVLK Vulkan driver.

The other notable limitation to the AMD variable rate refresh support right now is that it's only supported on X11/X.Org desktops. There isn't VRR Wayland support at this time but it was mentioned among the "next steps" with possible VRR support for Wayland's Weston / KDE Plasma / GNOME Shell and even potentially ChromeOS. Other next steps include working on FreeSync support for Linux video playback, other power savings possibilities, and potentially exposing a more explicit interface for enabling other future use-cases around the technology.

Those curious about more details on the current AMD FreeSync Linux support can see the PDF slide deck from XDC2019.
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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 10,000 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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