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AMD Linux

AMD Publishes Open-Source "ATI Evergreen" Driver 159

Several readers have written to tell us that AMD has published their code to support the Radeon HD 5000 "Evergreen" graphics cards on Linux in an open-source driver. Unfortunately the driver isn't quite as complete as some might hope. The current offering doesn't promise 2D (EXA) acceleration or 3D support. "The DDX driver supports mode-setting on the Evergreen/R800 series GPUs with VGA and DVI connectors while the DisplayPort connectivity is still not working right, according to AMD's Alex Deucher who had written most of this code. These new AMD graphics cards have been around since September while there was no open-source support at that time. In December just before Christmas there was Evergreen Shader documentation that was made publicly available and around that time it was confirmed via our forums that initial VGA mode-setting was working with Evergreen internally on unreleased code. Since then the digital connector support has been added in and this code has finally cleared AMD's legal review. The revised target was to publish this code by FOSDEM, which is this weekend so AMD did hit the target this time."
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AMD Publishes Open-Source "ATI Evergreen" Driver

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  • Nightmare (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 01, 2010 @07:46PM (#30989302)
    There is some amount of ridiculousness here - perhaps I don't understand something but explain to me if you will, how this works - Every time a new GPU is released, a shit load of new driver code is required to just get it working. And then there a a truck load more of code required to get 2D acceleration working. And then the same for 3D. How come the GPU vendors do not have a freaking portion of their hardware always work the same way, with same driver code - it just does mode setting and sets up the GPU for decent level of 2D acceleration. The you write a per GPU, dynamically loadable module that will deal with that particular family of GPU. I mean there is not a whole lot you can do with modesetting and 2D - no one cares of 2D accel anymore - it should just work the same way with same driver code for all series of GPUs for a particular vendor. NVidia has to drop support for older chips, fork the driver and have it only support newer chips because of bloat that it becomes having to support different families of GPUs each requiring lots of code.
  • Re:Baby Steps (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 01, 2010 @07:46PM (#30989306)

    For the last decade (almost), it was always "free the specs and the community developers can do it". It's interesting that now it's "You've freed the specs, but now you need to hire the devs".

    The community is no closer to having community maintained drivers. If the IHVs move out of supporting the drivers, where will that leave the community? The specs are there for Intel and AMD, but there doesn't seem to be a large non-vendor set of developers out there.

    Sure there are a set of core developers (airlied, ajax, MostAwesomeDude, etc), but they will always be undermanned, no matter über their code-fu is.

  • by Darkness404 ( 1287218 ) on Monday February 01, 2010 @07:49PM (#30989354)
    It doesn't matter. Drivers should be -standard- unless I'm screwing with something seriously experimental, drivers should be expected. The 5000 series has been out since last year, so drivers should be standard on the day they ship.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 01, 2010 @08:01PM (#30989488)
    Dynamic power management still sucks for laptop users though. I have a laptop with a HD3650 GPU and it runs terribly hot with the default Fedora 12 and Ubuntu 10.04 Alpha drivers. If I use the "ForceLowPowerMode" it runs cooler, but the radeon driver will corrupt the cursor and radeonhd will slow down. With the Windows 7 driver it never runs hot.
  • by drizek ( 1481461 ) on Monday February 01, 2010 @08:36PM (#30989864)

    Then explain why my printer doesn't work on Windows 7, when it works in XP, VIsta, OSX and Ubuntu? Out of the box in two of those four(I'll let you guess which).

    I would also like you to explain why my 4 year old Dell laptop doesn't let me pick the appropraite resolution in Windows 7, when it will in XP, Vista and Ubuntu.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 01, 2010 @09:16PM (#30990220)

    Why should drivers be standard for Linux? Considering that it represents a pretty minuscule percentage of their market it seems to me they are going above and beyond by supporting it at all. On top of that they have "standard" drivers for previous cards.

    Seems to me they are doing the right thing.

    Well, I work in a public organization (no, not in the USA) and when all we buy is specified according to the national laws and internal standards.
    As standard, any computer bought _must_ be supported by Linux (GNU/Linux if you prefer) with FOSS drivers or, if there's no such hardware, by closed source drivers. It doesn't matter which OS will be used, it must support Linux so the hardware won't be an obstacle when the migration occurs.

    Most of the machines run Windows XP currently (the migration has been slow-paced), but the spent money went to the ones that support Linux.

  • by Schraegstrichpunkt ( 931443 ) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @12:14AM (#30991470) Homepage
    I'll run closed code, but it's bloody well not going to be something as crucial as my video drivers. I've done it before, and I'll never do it again on my main computer.

    How many years did it take for nVidia to add DRI support to their driver? Xinerama support? Not-corrupting-the-virtual-console-when-running-more-than-one-instance-of-X support? Do they support XRandR 1.3 yet? (That last question isn't rhetorical---I've stopped following the status of nVidia's proprietary drivers.)

    The last time I used them, the nVidia drivers exhibited a severe case of Not-Invented-Here syndrome, and they weren't particularly stable.

    I really don't know where all these people come from who say "nVidia's drivers just work". I suspect it's just a lack of experience with *actual* stable drivers. The best X driver experience I've had is with free drivers for hardware that's a few generations old. Super stable and everything *really* just works.

  • Re:Baby Steps (Score:2, Interesting)

    by zill ( 1690130 ) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @01:24AM (#30991844)

    I mean, it's kinda like GM dumping a crate of parts in your driveway and calling it a car, but really, would your rather build it yourself, or have some wage-slashed government worker do it?

    I'd file a police report against GM for trespassing and then report them to the city hall for illegal dumping. Then I'd go and buy a real car.

    Unfortunately that alternative does not exist in the graphics world because Nvidia's Fermi won't show up for a few more months. None of Nvidia's current offerings can stand up to the Radeon R800 series. Even if Fermi shows up it'll be useless for me personally because it will not support triple displays, just like all other Nvidia cards (not counting dual GPU cards).

  • by Exter-C ( 310390 ) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @02:42AM (#30992190) Homepage

    Its great to see some hardware companies coming out with open source drivers for their technology. Even if the driver is so far incomplete its at least a good starting point which will hopefully be improved on. I feel that by providing this sort of information AMD may have a repreive which will help it have a fighting chance in the future. Its such a shame that Via have not been doing more with their graphics drivers in Linux. I really wish that openchrome had more support given that so many cheap nettop/netbook style systems have via chipsets (at least in asia).

  • by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <> on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @11:51AM (#30996194) Homepage Journal

    I think you got modded troll because there is no 'wrong' mod. The specs that they have released have been as complete as you could ever realistically hope for.

    The specs that they have released have been consistently late. Instead of providing them in advance of the release of the hardware they are continually released well afterwards (if the continual bitching about same from ATI owners is any indication) forcing strict FOSS users to buy last year's card at best if they want the full functionality of their hardware, which still does not work for many older cards (esp. regarding acceleration and TV out) for many users who have otherwise-supported hardware.

    Believe me, I don't want to give nVidia too much credit; their driver doesn't support my shiny new video card, a GTS 240 that I bought for its decent performance and low power consumption. Or maybe it does now, I'm out of town so I haven't been checking. Two beta drivers released after the release driver I'm using (which incorrectly identifies the card) caused spontaneous reboots sometimes, and X to consume all system resources at other times. But the card is working with that release driver, and my system is stable. I've never had this result with any ATI hardware and any ATI driver on any operating system; again, I've suffered with every ATI video chip since the Mach32.

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