AMD/Radeon Has Continued Making Much Linux Graphics Progress
Written by Michael Larabel in Radeon on 28 December 2015 at 10:06 AM EST. 11 Comments
RADEON --
AMD's open-source graphics driver stack continued maturing in 2015 while Catalyst (now known as Radeon Software) releases were rare. AMD's open-source driver stack now supports OpenGL 4.1 for GCN GPUs and select pre-GCN graphics cards plus the other driver stack also matured in other ways this year.

On a related note to yesterday's The Mesmerizing Mesa Milestones Of 2015, this article is looking at the most popular AMD/Radeon content on Phoronix for this calendar year.

Much of the interest by Phoronix readers has been in the open-source driver stack while waiting for Catalyst / Radeon Software to switch over to the new driver model of being limited to a user-space blob that's riding off the AMDGPU kernel driver. Most recently, the Radeon Technologies Group announced the GPUOpen initiative. Sadly there, I'm still waiting to find out more Linux details about their plans for 2016... Last week we were finally scheduled to have a conference call to further discuss Linux/GPUOpen at their request. However, they canceled twice on me last week for the call and thus waiting until 2016 to find out more.

Anyhow, the ten most popular AMD/Radeon stories on Phoronix in 2015 were:

RadeonSI Gets OpenGL 4.5 Derivative Control Support
The latest OpenGL 4+ activity in Mesa this week is a Saturday commit landing another OpenGL 4.5 extension for AMD's RadeonSI Gallium3D driver for GCN graphics processors.

GL_AMD_pinned_memory Lands In Mesa
Support for the GL_AMD_pinned_memory OpenGL extension has landed within Mesa and is implemented for the R600g and RadeonSI Gallium3D drivers. This patch series also lands the Userptr support for the open-source AMD graphics drivers on the user-space side.

AMD Releases New "AMDGPU" Linux Kernel Driver & Mesa Support
At long last the source code to the new AMDGPU driver has been released! This is the new driver needed to support the Radeon R9 285 graphics card along with future GPUs/APUs like Carrizo. Compared to the existing Radeon DRM driver, the new AMDGPU code is needed for AMD's new unified Linux driver strategy whereby the new Catalyst driver will be isolated to being a user-space binary blob with both the full open-source driver and the Catalyst driver using this common AMDGPU kernel driver.

Improved OpenCL Support For Blender's Cycles Renderer
George Kyriazis of AMD has provided patches to the Blender project for vastly improving their OpenCL Cycles renderer support and allow for it to work with AMD GPUs.

OpenGL 4.1 Support Now Enabled In Mesa Git For AMD RadeonSI
The OpenGL 4.1 patches for RadeonSI have now landed in Mesa Git master!

Ubuntu 15.04 Receives Early Release Of Catalyst 15.3 Linux Driver
Early adopters of Ubuntu 15.04 Vivid Vervet can now use AMD's new Catalyst 15.3 Beta driver that's been packaged for Ubuntu and uploaded to the Vivid repository prior to its release on AMD.com.

AMD Starts Linux Enablement On Next-Gen "Zen" Architecture
While we're still waiting for AMD to release their new GPU kernel driver for supporting the existing R9 285 "Tonga" graphics card and their next-gen graphics cards coming out later this year, on the CPU side the AMD Linux developers have already started shipping patches to support their next-gen CPU architecture not expected for release until 2016~2017. Tux, meet the AMD Zen architecture.

AMDGPU PowerPlay Is Working Great So Far; Here's An Ubuntu PowerPlay Kernel
With AMD having published PowerPlay support for AMDGPU I've been busy today running tests on this new power management code that finally allows Tonga and Fiji GPUs to operate at their full-speed when using the open-source Linux graphics driver.

AMD Forms A Tiger Team For Catalyst Improvements, Including Linux
I've found out from various people in the know that AMD has assembled a "tiger team" to tackle outstanding Catalyst driver issues. This tiger team isn't Linux specific, but Linux driver issues will be fully evaluated and tackled by this new group of driver specialists.

AMDGPU Open-Source Driver Code Continues Maturing
Nearly one month ago AMD published the open-source code to their new "AMDGPU" kernel driver and the necessary user-space driver changes too. That code is continuing to mature for the Linux 4.2 kernel and for supporting the RadeonSI Gallium3D driver that code is continuing to be polished.

When it comes to featured articles and reviews, the most popular were:

22-Way Comparison Of NVIDIA & AMD Graphics Cards On SteamOS For Steam Linux Gaming
With Steam Machines set to begin shipping next month and SteamOS beginning to interest more gamers as an alternative to Windows for building a living room gaming PC, in this article I've carried out a twenty-two graphics card comparison with various NVIDIA GeForce and AMD Radeon GPUs while testing them on the Debian Linux-based SteamOS 2.0 "Brewmaster" operating system using a variety of Steam Linux games.

The AMD Radeon R9 Fury Is Currently A Disaster On Linux
When AMD announced the Radeon R9 Fury line-up powered by the "Fiji" GPU with High Bandwidth Memory, I was genuinely very excited to get my hands on this graphics card. The tech sounded great and offered up a lot of potential, and once finally finding an R9 Fury in stock, shelled out nearly $600 for this graphics card. Unfortunately though, thanks to the current state of the Catalyst Linux driver, the R9 Fury on Linux is a gigantic waste for OpenGL workloads. The R9 Fury results only exemplifies the hideous state of AMD's OpenGL support for their Catalyst Linux driver with a NVIDIA graphics card costing $200 less consistently delivering better gaming performance.

Unreal Engine 4 Linux Tests With AMD & NVIDIA Graphics Drivers
This week there was a 22-way graphics card test of Metro Redux on Linux using GeForce and Radeon hardware with the latest AMD and NVIDIA proprietary drivers. Today the newest Linux gaming test candidate to look at is the AMD/NVIDIA Linux performance with the latest Unreal Engine 4 demos. In this article is a look at the UE4 Linux performance on AMD and NVIDIA graphics hardware running with Ubuntu.

22-Way AMD/NVIDIA OpenCL Linux Benchmarks To Start Off 2015
As it's been a while since last running any large OpenCL benchmark comparisons, here's some updated figures for a wide-range of AMD and NVIDIA graphics cards. In total twenty-two graphics cards were tested with the latest AMD and NVIDIA drivers to see the current OpenCL GPU performance.

How To Make CS:GO Run Much Faster On AMD Catalyst For Linux
Should you be using a Radeon graphics card with the AMD Catalyst Linux driver and are disappointed by the poor performance, there is a very easy workaround for gaining much better performance under Linux... In some cases a simple tweak will yield around 40% better performance!

AMD Linux Graphics: The Latest Open-Source RadeonSI Driver Moves On To Smacking Catalyst
Following this weekend's Radeon R9 Fury open-source Linux driver tests with the DRM-Next code to be merged into Linux 4.3, the latest Mesa 11.1-devel Git code, and LLVM 3.8 SVN for the AMDGPU compiler back-end, I proceeded to run some bleeding-edge open-source Radeon Gallium3D graphics versus AMD Catalyst Linux benchmarks on Ubuntu.

The New AMD GPU Open-Source Driver On Linux 4.2 Works, But Still A Lot Of Work Ahead
With the Linux 4.2 kernel settling down nicely and AMD developers having already sent in a few round of fixes for their new AMDGPU kernel DRM driver, I've started testing out this new kernel driver -- plus the new xf86-video-amdgpu DDX and the associated new Mesa/LibDRM code -- that is providing the open-source accelerated graphics support for Tonga and all new/future GPUs like Carrizo and Fiji.

22-Way AMD+NVIDIA Graphics Card Tests With Metro Redux On Steam For Linux
A few days back I wrote about being able to finally get the Metro Redux game benchmarks running in an automated manner under Linux to the point that we're now able to test it with the Phoronix Test Suite. With Metro 2033 Redux and Metro Last Light Redux now running well for our testing purposes, I've carried out performance tests of these two games with twenty-two AMD Radeon and NVIDIA GeForce graphics cards on Linux. Besides looking at the normal FPS result there's also frame latency metrics, power consumption data for each of these graphics cards, performance-per-Watt metrics, and GPU thermal results. If you're wondering what graphics card works best for your needs for OpenGL 4.x Linux gaming, here's an interesting look with the Metro Redux titles that premiered on Steam for Linux back in December.

4K AMD/NVIDIA High-End GPU Comparison On SteamOS Linux
Continuing on from Friday's article that was a 22-way comparison of AMD and NVIDIA graphics cards on SteamOS for Steam Linux gaming, which tested the hardware at the common TV resolution of 1080p, here are results for the higher-end Radeon and GeForce graphics cards at 4K.

CompuLab's Fitlet Is A Very Tiny, Fanless, Linux PC With AMD A10 Micro
Over the past few weeks I've been testing out the CompuLab Fitlet as a neat little Linux PC powered by an AMD A10 Micro-6700T APU with Radeon R6 Graphics. The model I've been testing features 4GB of RAM and a 64GB SSD with the mentioned A10 Micro APU all while being fanless and being smaller than an Intel NUC. The performance out of this tiny computer is quite impressive and reinforces that good things can come out of small packages.
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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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