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AMD Graphics Linux

XBMC Developers Criticize AMD's Linux Driver 212

An anonymous reader writes "It's not only the NVIDIA Linux driver that has been publicly slammed over lacking support; the AMD Catalyst driver is now facing scrutiny from developers of the XBMC media and entertainment software. The developers aren't happy with AMD due to not properly supporting video acceleration under Linux. The AMD Linux driver is even lacking support for MPEG2 video acceleration and newer levels of H.264. AMD reportedly has the support coded, but they're refusing to turn it on in their public Linux driver."
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XBMC Developers Criticize AMD's Linux Driver

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    To me, the most interesting part of the summary was:

    AMD reportedly has the support coded, but they're refusing to turn it on in their public Linux driver

    The relevant point from the article seems to be

    Our sources say that these features are implemented in fglrx since a long time, but simply not activated within the driver. Nobody seems to know why.

    Forgive me for being skeptical with Phoronix, but does anyone with more direct knowledge of these "sources" want to comment? I'd like to have a better view of the situation than just the words "Our sources."

    • by aitikin ( 909209 )
      I'm with you. Thanks for posting the part of the article that I have read (this is slashdot after all).
  • Nobody cares unless somebody drops an F-Bomb and gives the middle finger. Until then we should all just move along.
  • by forgottenusername ( 1495209 ) on Friday June 22, 2012 @01:28PM (#40413811)

    I usually don't pay too close of attention to ATI vs Nvidia war, but I had built out a slick HTPC machine to run xbmc on Linux, and videos had all sorts of problems on the ATI card.. especially with decent quality videos. Hitching, crashing, general instability despite trying different drivers and config combinations.

    Threw in a fanless nvidia, VDPAU works fine, totally different experience.

    So, I'll stick with Nvidia on Linux for anything more serious than web browsing; their closed source binary driver is a little obnoxious, but at least it works.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Yvanhoe ( 564877 )
      I think that my next one will have Intel graphics. They are not the top boys in terms of raw power, but their drivers are open source, and their linux support apparently complete. That makes them probably decent competitors to NVidia/ATI
  • by pathological liar ( 659969 ) on Friday June 22, 2012 @01:30PM (#40413837)

    What kind of piss-poor cpu can't decode mpeg2 in several times realtime?

    The article implies h.264 acceleration for levels less-than-or-equal-to 4.1 works fine as well. Scene rules for x264 releases say respect 4.1, and most hardware players top out at that as well... so who's clamoring for it, and why?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      That's not the point. Offloading to a GPU for built in HW decoding means low power CPUs can control full HD media without breaking into a sweat. You don't need a full HTPC when you can have a simple and 100x cheaper SoC. Scene isn't everything, 4.1 hasn't been the baselines for several years even if the spec itself covers what the scene release.

    • Re:Their wishlist (Score:5, Informative)

      by 0123456 ( 636235 ) on Friday June 22, 2012 @01:54PM (#40414149)

      What kind of piss-poor cpu can't decode mpeg2 in several times realtime?

      An Atom struggles to play 1080P MPEG-2, and you can forget 1080P H.264. Whereas my Xbmc box with an Atom and Nvidia Ion chipset has no problem with anything we've thrown at it.

      • by Rich0 ( 548339 )

        Wish I could say the same. I have no idea if it is myth, X11, the kernel, or what, but I keep getting artifacts when trying to use my ION to play HD video. It varies considerably based on where the stream came from, and what software I'm using to play it...

    • by Junta ( 36770 )

      1920x1080 MPEG2 is actually still challenging (e.g. ATSC content).

      'Scene' rules haven't stopped me from getting higher profiles on various pieces of content.

    • Because I get 6 hours on my netbook running an E350 playing 720p under Win 7 HP thanks to everything being offloaded? Not a Linux guy but i can understand why they wouldn't be happy, its a hell of a lot less power to use the dedicated GPU to do the rendering than the CPU and when you are building an HTPC you want it quiet. hell if all you are gonna use is the CPU anyway might as well just through in a cheap Phenom I or C2D and call it a day, because it sounds like the GPU ain't do anything anyway.
  • by SealBeater ( 143912 ) on Friday June 22, 2012 @01:39PM (#40413937) Homepage

    I'm currently using a mac mini with the Intel i910 driver and a broadcom crystalhd mini-pci-E card. 1920x1080, both CPUs run at about 30% decoding 1080p. Works very well for me.

  • If you've ever lurked Doom9, you'll realize that AMD/ATi cards are very narrow in the types of AVC files they will accelerate, when compared to nVidia. And this is on the well supported and well funded Windows side.

    They might have some support in the drivers, but Linux video acceleration is a clusterfuck, some really convoluted setup that makes PulseAudio/ALSA look like a sane design.

    In Windows, video players will simply drop to software decoding if it can hardware decode, but in Linux, the video pla
  • Blame DRM (Score:3, Informative)

    by CityZen ( 464761 ) on Friday June 22, 2012 @01:46PM (#40414027) Homepage

    Their video acceleration hardware has DRM built into it. The reason they can't release the specs is most likely because their lawyers said not to, for fear of breaking some DRM-related legal contract(s).

    • by fa2k ( 881632 )

      The reason they can't release the specs is most likely because their lawyers said not to, for fear of breaking some DRM-related legal contract(s).

      I can't imagine how that would be a problem though. DRM relies on having some system that the content publisher can trust, which the user doesn't have control over or visibility into. The Linux video acceleration APIs probably allow a separate process to read the final frames from the video framebuffer, so the opensource driver can't decode any DRM'ed content on Linux. That's fine. Why is it then a problem to allow decoding of non-encumbered content? The only way I can imagine it would be a problem is if th

  • Switchable Grpahics (Score:5, Interesting)

    by PerlJedi ( 2406408 ) Works for Slashdot on Friday June 22, 2012 @01:52PM (#40414119) Homepage Journal
    The video codecs are the least of my problems with linux support from both NVidia and AMD. Neither of them off any kind of support for switchable graphics under linux. I have laptops with modern graphics cards from each of these guys, and in both cases it has been a long up hill battle getting the graphics cards to work correctly.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 22, 2012 @02:32PM (#40414677)

      The big problem there is that X itself doesn't have infrastructure to support switchable graphics sanely. There is some work being done to provide a Hot-Swap API into X11 to address this problem so at least then there will be a way to at least start to get this working in X.

      The other big factor is that most of these switchable graphics solutions are proprietary per laptop. Some use a physical mux to switch the display back and forth between integrated and discrete cards. Some don't and use a purely SW solution where the discrete card renders offscreen, then has its output copied into system memory for compositing by the integrated card. Windows 7 sort of supports this now in their driver model with their WDDM compositor.

      I'm sure something could eventually be worked on in Linux but there isn't any standard X driver model really created to make this work. I don't blame either company for not spending that much effort to get this working given the current marketshare of linux on laptops (which I think is pretty close to 0% as sold by OEMs). It makes me a bit sad, but until X gets support to make this whole switchable graphics thing a first class citizen I doubt either company will have much official support for this.

      If Linux laptops were a big market segment and the manufacturers were clamoring for switchable Linux graphics because end users were willing to pay for it then you'd probably see this feature emerge. Sadly the market probably doesn't appear large enough to justify major investment.

      Also do the open source AMD driver or Noveua support any sane form of switchable graphics? Or are they also stuck on X11's lack of a good API for this?

  • For me, out of nVidia and ATI proprietary drivers under linux, ATI's were always more problematic, especially under 64 bit Ubuntu.
    Every couple years I try to get an ATI card and make linux work with it and every time I get very frustrated (last one was 5830 card in 2010 []). Yes, I don't have much expertise in kernel hacking, but I don't expect that I have to do that much tweaking to install a freaking driver. So far nVidia never presented a problem under Ubuntu. It might re-compile itself, but that's as bad a

  • by tlambert ( 566799 ) on Friday June 22, 2012 @02:34PM (#40414703)

    H.264 patent: The last expiration is US 7826532 on 29 nov 2027
    MPEG-2 patent: The last expiration is US 7334248 in 2026 (but if 6181712 is held to be prior art, move that up to 2018)

    Otherwise there are per unit royalties without a Microsoft to pre-pay them for you so the OS itself pays no royalties for the driver (or you pay for the driver, or you drive the chip cost up relative to Intel, for whom Microsoft also pays the royalty).

    -- Terry

  • by tyrione ( 134248 ) on Friday June 22, 2012 @04:38PM (#40416287) Homepage
    If you ever read the LLVM/Clang Dev Lists you'd know they are releasing the stack for their Linux Community Drivers with OpenCL 1.x full support. They are cleaning up the code and the dump will soon begin.
  • by Clueless Nick ( 883532 ) on Saturday June 23, 2012 @01:08AM (#40419031) Journal

    I chose an HTPC with AMD processor and graphics over the one with Intel/nVIDIA, thinking it would have better Linux support, and an nVIDIA based Android tablet thinking it will get good OEM and driver support. Turns out that now I am stuck with both.

"Hey Ivan, check your six." -- Sidewinder missile jacket patch, showing a Sidewinder driving up the tail of a Russian Su-27