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AMD Graphics Open Source News Linux

Open-Source 2D, 3D Drivers For ATI Radeon HD 5000 Series 245

Posted by Soulskill
from the following-through dept.
An anonymous reader writes "AMD has now rolled out open-source 2D and 3D drivers for their ATI Radeon HD 5000 series graphics processors. As described at length over at Phoronix, it's taken nearly a year to complete but there is now public code released that enables 2D, 3D, and video hardware-acceleration for this latest generation of ATI GPUs. For now this code is intended for developers and enthusiasts but with time it will make its way into stable Linux distribution updates. AMD's open-source developers are also beginning to work on ATI Radeon HD 6000 series support, which is hardware not to be released until late in the year."
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Open-Source 2D, 3D Drivers For ATI Radeon HD 5000 Series

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  • by MarkRose (820682) on Friday August 20, 2010 @08:21PM (#33320528) Homepage

    I would have had the first post, but I was waiting for my browser window to scroll.

  • nVidia (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Snaver (983382) on Friday August 20, 2010 @08:22PM (#33320534) Homepage
    I guess this is more than what nVidia has been doing.. Plus for AMD users.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Threni (635302)

      That's why I got an ati card for my ubuntu 10.04 64 bit. I didn't see any other choice!

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Grishnakh (216268)

      I guess my next video card will be an ATI card...

      • Re:nVidia (Score:4, Insightful)

        by pnewhook (788591) on Friday August 20, 2010 @10:11PM (#33321134)

        Why? Unless the resulting drivers are actually better which remains to be seen, just the fact that they are open source is meaningless.

        Now if someone can fix ATIs shitty OpenGL support, then I'd be all over it. But for right now this makes no difference.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Grishnakh (216268)

          The fact that they're open source means they'll soon be able to support kernel mode setting, and integrate better into Linux distributions than Nvidia's proprietary stuff.

          • The fact that they're open source means they'll soon be able to support kernel mode setting, and integrate better into Linux distributions than Nvidia's proprietary stuff.

            It's all good, but most people buying these kinds of cards want to run 3D-heavy apps (read: games), so the ability to do that fast and stable is still the primary measure of drivers' usefulness.

            If you just want desktop graphics to work, any Intel chip will do wonders in Linux today - very cheap, and no need to wait.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by TheRaven64 (641858)
            And security holes get fixed faster. nVidia has a bit of a history of leaving security holes wide open (including a remotely exploitable hole that let a malicious png execute arbitrary code in kernel space, which they left for two years). I was recently talking to one of the Noveau developers, and it seems that this hasn't changed recently - they still haven't fixed the hole that he reported to them a year ago.
        • Re:nVidia (Score:4, Funny)

          by tyrione (134248) on Friday August 20, 2010 @11:59PM (#33321594) Homepage

          Why? Unless the resulting drivers are actually better which remains to be seen, just the fact that they are open source is meaningless.

          Now if someone can fix ATIs shitty OpenGL support, then I'd be all over it. But for right now this makes no difference.

          They have phenomenal OpenGL support, just not for Linux.

        • Re:nVidia (Score:5, Informative)

          by ultranova (717540) on Saturday August 21, 2010 @04:39AM (#33322362)

          Why? Unless the resulting drivers are actually better which remains to be seen, just the fact that they are open source is meaningless.

          Says someone who's never had to try and update the latest version that supported his card by hand to make it compatible with the latest kernel. Linux doesn't have a stable driver/module interface, and that makes closed-source drivers an absolute pain.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by BLKMGK (34057)

        Until this can match the performance of the NVIDIA VDPAU I'm not interested. I need performance and functionality. So far ATI hasn't delivered that and while this is a step forward it's a bit late in the game. Wake me when they do something like the ION chipset that NVIDIA has done so I can have high performance video decoding and rendering on a low power CPU. If they had done this say two years ago or had better performing closed source drivers I might have chosen to use their stuff. They are way late to t

    • Re:nVidia (Score:4, Informative)

      by Trepidity (597) <.delirium-slashdot. .at. .hackish.org.> on Friday August 20, 2010 @10:11PM (#33321136)

      Traditionally, nVidia had high-quality but closed drivers for Linux, while ATI had a low-quality but open ones (they also had a closed one, but it was pretty bad too). The main change seems to be that ATI's released a lot more specs lately, and has devoted more attention to producing non-crappy Linux drivers.

  • Kudos to them for finally taking this step. I have no doubt that with at least this start point, these drivers should achieve feature parity with the closed source Nvidia drivers before too long. Truthfully right now if they can just get a good VDPAU implementation I'll be happy. Aside from that the only use for my card on Linux is Compiz. With the rumours of Steam coming to Linux eventually though, it could definitely get interesting.

    • by RAMMS+EIN (578166)

      ``Kudos to them for finally taking this step. I have no doubt that with at least this start point, these drivers should achieve feature parity with the closed source Nvidia drivers before too long.''

      I wouldn't hold my breath. R600 and R700 documentation has been out for quite a while now, and the open-source driver has been under development for years, but it's definitely not on par with the Nvidia closed-source driver. The R300 driver is, as far as I know, one of the best open-source drivers ever developed

    • Re:Excellent (Score:4, Interesting)

      by jonwil (467024) on Saturday August 21, 2010 @05:33AM (#33322484)

      Good luck getting VDPAU in the open source drivers.
      Apparently, releasing the specs required to support the hardware video decoding in the ATI chips would compromise Windows based DRM (i.e. where the app decrypts the video file and sends decrypted but compressed video data to the video card, the specs for the video decode part would let you build a program to intercept the compressed video data before it gets sent to the card)

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Kjella (173770)

        Unfortunately, those specific bits are only part of the impact that DRM has. They also have to protect all the underlying systems too, like memory management. They can't release an implementation that would easily let people find:

        1. Allocating memory for compressed frame
        2. [magic loading frame]
        3. Allocating memory for uncompressed frame
        4. [magic decoding frame]

        If they did, people could easily grab those from GPU memory. Also, part is not handled by UVD hardware but rather by shaders, so while we have the in

  • by aussersterne (212916) on Friday August 20, 2010 @08:24PM (#33320546) Homepage

    After years of being a die-hard Nvidia-on-Linux user, I took a risk and went with a laptop that had integrated ATI graphics when I made my most recent upgrade.

    Nothing but instability, incompatibility, artifacting, underperformance, a mess. I regret it. I finally got an IBM Advanced Mini-Dock and put an Nvidia PCI-Express 8600GT in it (needed something low power enough to draw from the slot alone, small enough to fit in the tiny mini-dock space).

    Installed the Nvidia drivers and away I went, stable and fast.

    Meanwhile, on Windows nobody (neither IBM nor Lenovo nor ATI) have managed to release updated, much less Windows 7-compatible, drivers for the integrated ATI graphics in my Thinkpad. The machine is only two years old but it's all EOL as far as ATI is concerned.

    This is a good move by ATI, I suppose, but it's woefully late, and it doesn't do anything about existing hardware on any platform. ATI's hardware might be okay, I have no idea, but their driver support on every platform sucks ass.

    • by Cyberax (705495) on Friday August 20, 2010 @08:38PM (#33320640)

      Uhm. ATI has OpenSource drivers for _all_ hardware starting from r100 for Linux. And all their drivers support KMS.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Minwee (522556)

        I don't think that's what 'older' means. It may be hard to believe, but there are still systems out there with video chipsets older than the r100, and support for some of them can be a little shaky.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by MBGMorden (803437)

          I have no qualms with the second half of your statement, but there's no denying that the R100 is old. Really old in computing terms. Just because there exist EVEN OLDER chipsets still in use doesn't negate that fact. It'd be like saying that a 486 isn't slow because you can find a 286 still in use. It might be slowER, but the 486 is still slow too.

        • r100 is pretty old. I have an r200, and it's been sitting in an antistatic bag unused for several years because I don't have any use for it (although last time I did use it, it was well supported under FreeBSD by the DRI drivers). R100 was the first generation of the Radeon brand - the first ATi chips to include transform and lighting. I also own a card from the previous generation, the Rage 128. This only accelerated texturing and mine got about the same performance as my VooDoo 2. On a relatively rec

      • And they suck. (Score:3, Interesting)

        by aussersterne (212916)

        This is on Fedoras 11, 12, and 13 with a Mobility X1400. I've tried both radeon and radeonhd. I tried dozens of options and no options.

        Crashes. Freezes. Panics. Unpredictable behavior (woah, garbage screen, hit CTRL-ALT-BKSP to restart server, hey, now it works, but two hours later, woah, garbage again!).

        I gave up on the 3D support but even had trouble and unpredictable behavior with the 2D support, especially with Xrandr and dual monitors.

        Thought for a moment that it might be worth it to try the closed-sou

        • Interesting.

          Isn't there something wrong with this paragraph?

          "Seriously, before simply docking the laptop and running Nvidia, I was crawling through bugzilla applying patches to the source RPM for the Xorg nvidia driver to fix things as basic as icon corruption."

          Did you mean "Xorg ATI driver"? Otherwise, I got lost somewhere.
        • by BLKMGK (34057)

          Oh great - as I was reading this I was recalling that the ONE machine I have with ATI is my primary laptop. It's a bit long in the tooth being all of about 2-3 years old I think. It currently runs XP Pro and I've pondered Ubuntu on it. I read a bit further along and gee - it's the same T60 model YOU currently have. I guess that answers that question - and here I thought it was just the audio I'd have issues with

      • by esocid (946821)
        Tell that to my lappy, which has a 7500M card. I had to use the vesa driver, because not a single ATi driver worked for it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Draek (916851)

      Did the problems you experienced with ATI cards on Linux occur with the Open Source driver, or did you (oh-so-mistakenly) believe "propietary = better" and tried the steaming pile of trash that's the Closed Source ones?

      • by aanantha (186040)

        The closed source drivers haven't supported the X1400 in a while. The old versions that do don't run on any recent distros because of kernel incompatibilities.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by whoever57 (658626)

      In my household, we have 3 Thinkpads with ATI graphics, all now running Ubuntu 10.04 and have not seen any of the issues you describe. At work, we also have Thinkpads with ATI graphics running Ubuntu 10.04 and have not seen these issues. I have been running a desktop with nVidia chipset and ATI graphics under Gentoo Linux and it is rock solid.

      Perhaps you got some bad hardware?

      • T60 2007-GBU (Score:3, Informative)

        by aussersterne (212916)

        The ATI X1400 works fine in Windows (can even game for hours some weekends without trouble), though the driver support files had to be edited to make the driver installable, given that ATI no longer supports the chipset, so no Windows 7 drivers.

        That's 2D + 3D, rock solid.

        In Linux, even in 2D (no 3D) with KMS disabled on an unpatched radeon driver (both in F12 and F13), I get icon corruption, cursor corruption and tearing, and risky Xrandr operations. All gets much, much worse if you start to try to use exte

  • by Fallen Kell (165468) on Friday August 20, 2010 @08:29PM (#33320574)
    Since the 5x00 series cards also included built in audio for the HDMI connection, did ATI also make drivers which support the full functionality? Or is this just video only?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 20, 2010 @08:49PM (#33320704)

    These days, I pretty much only buy motherboards with intel graphics, simply because I don't want to have to deal with the hassle of installing NVidia's closed drivers, and for the life of me I can't figure out what I am supposed to do with an ATI card. There seems to be half a dozen open source driver projects always on the go, with no clear indication of what cards work and what cards don't. Add to that the constant complaints I see over their own closed source drivers, and that's another brand I simply won't consider. Someone tell me I'm wrong and point me to something that can clarify the situation.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by mobets (101759)

      My last NVIDIA card was a 6800 (not exactly new). Up through this card, NVIDIA's Linux support has been rock solid. I'm always confused when people complain about the lack of open source drivers when the proprietary drivers are so good.

      Also the install isn't hard:
      Download the installer and run it.
      On gentoo (great mythtv support): emerge nvidia-drivers.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by imroy (755)

      ...for the life of me I can't figure out what I am supposed to do with an ATI card.

      Here:

      apt-get install xserver-xorg-video-radeon firmware-linux-nonfree

      I recently upgraded my ancient Athlon XP desktop system with an AMD 785G-based motherboard and an Athlon II x2 250 processor. The on-board RS880 (HD 4200 equivalent) graphics works pretty well (I don't need much). It took me a little hunting to figure out which X.org driver to use (the "radeonhd" driver is older and now unmaintained). It was also sluggish

  • Now for your part (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bruce Perens (3872) <bruce@perens.com> on Friday August 20, 2010 @08:52PM (#33320730) Homepage Journal

    Go out and buy some. And then help to make the driver rock-solid, if you're capable.

    We've got to reward the companies that do this.

    Bruce

    • As long as they have a competitive card for the money, I'll buy from them if it fits my needs. It's nice knowing that in about a year we'll have a solid Linux experience if you're using ATI.

    • Go out and buy some. And then help to make the driver rock-solid, if you're capable.

      We've got to reward the companies that do this.

      Bruce

      That seems like a fair enough strategy and I won't debate that. I have to stick with the closed source nVidia drivers though because I think that they currently offer a better experience on Linux and I don't have the time to mess with the source code of ATI drivers at this point in my life. I'm in favour of "rewarding" ATI for this, it's just that I can't :(

    • Re:Now for your part (Score:4, Interesting)

      by whoever57 (658626) on Friday August 20, 2010 @10:58PM (#33321366) Journal

      We've got to reward the companies that do this.

      But how does ATI know that you bought an ATI card because of the open-source drivers?

      Perhaps an alternative (and cheaper approach) is to go and download the drivers from ATI's website while using a browser that sends a user agent that is clearly identifiable as a Linux system.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        But how does ATI know that you bought an ATI card because of the open-source drivers?

        Because of the email I will send them telling them why. The same way banks I chose not to use for this reason heard about it that way when most bank websites still couldn't be accessed from linux.

    • by kimvette (919543)

      I try buy hardware that works. In the case of video cards on non-Xen kernels, Nvidia always works. Sure, there is the annoying issue of having to recompile the modules when updating the kernel, but they otherwise work perfectly on video cards I have in various machines dating all the way back to 1998, and brand-new models (quadro on my notebook and in some appliance PCs, GTxxx cards, etc.) and everything in between.

      ATI sunsets drivers a lot quicker than nVidia.

      I try to go open source where and when possible

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by symbolset (646467)

      I'm in favor of this, so let's give AMD some proper recognition. I deal a lot with AMD servers and bladeservers as well as the Intel ones. The memory architecture of recent AMD servers is four channels rather than Intel's three. This allows for configurations of memory that are in the more familiar powers of two, as well as providing 1/3 more memory bandwidth. In some cases the AMD servers offer more net memory. In addition it allows more special things, like 256GB on a two processor server, which Inte

  • Can anyone recommend a new-ish video card (released last 3-5 years) that works well with open source 2D and 3D drivers? I'm looking to upgrade, but not sure what is out there that works well. It doesn't have to be super-fast 3D for the latest games, just something that will run google earth and quake would be cool. For 2D, it would be cool if it could do 1080p video scaling well.

    Thanks for any info you can offer.
    -molo

    • by Suiggy (1544213) on Friday August 20, 2010 @09:21PM (#33320898)
      ATI HD5770 or nVidia GTX260 or GTX460. If you want to be able to use the latest in OpenGL 4.x and OpenCL, you'll want to go with ATI HD5770 or GTX460.
      • by Narishma (822073)

        Those are too overpowered and expensive for what he needs. Any Intel chip should be able to run Google Earth and Quake 3 and do 1080p video. And if he wanted a card instead, both AMD and nVidia have a lot cheaper cards than those that would work very well.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by the Hewster (734122)

        ATI HD5770 or nVidia GTX260 or GTX460. If you want to be able to use the latest in OpenGL 4.x and OpenCL, you'll want to go with ATI HD5770 or GTX460.

        This reply post contains many errors and is not at all informative. The grandparent asked for video cards that work well with open source 2D/3D drivers, the ATI card he cites only has experimental support only, and will probably not be functionnal for a while, and those 2 nVidia cards he cites have no working 3D driver AT ALL. Please mod that post down to th

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Nysul (1816168)
      You probably don't need a 5770, you can get a 4770 for about $30-60 cheaper and it will likely be more than enough. I can play any game out there right now on high settings at 1680x1050. If you run a higher resolution you do probably want the 5770. In
  • How are these drivers with 3D stuff like in games? Are they fast as NVIDIA's closed binary drivers?

    • by RAMMS+EIN (578166)

      ``How are these drivers with 3D stuff like in games? Are they fast as NVIDIA's closed binary drivers?''

      Without actually having tested the new R800 driver (I don't have an R800-based card), I feel confident to say: no.

      If, like the story claims, they are about on par with the R600/R700 driver, that means you get working 2D, and 3D working with some glitches and with very low performance. I have an R730-based card, and it gets about 10 fps in Flightgear. I am sure the hardware can do better than that. :-)

  • by yacwroy (1558349) on Friday August 20, 2010 @09:46PM (#33321022)

    There are many issues in the world that can best be solved by people being nothing like you.

    Simply put: If the consumer doesn't reward good deeds, business (with it's legal obligation to maximize profit) won't do as many good deeds.

    In this case, your pragmatism, along with that of millions of others, is partly to blame for closed source drivers are so common. You yourself probably have lower quality graphics or operating system functionality due to this.

    While it's fine to be pragmatic in many circumstances, your stance that buying on principle isn't morally above buying through total pragmatism is, IMO, ultimately harmful.

    Blood diamonds are an extreme example of what comes from mass pragmatism. Would you knowingly buy one it it was better value?

  • But could they have been any worse? I always loved the way I hacked around for weeks trying to get 3D working after the drivers finally installed correctly and were apparently working correctly... all but 3D... and then to find out on some obscure link on google that the driver did not support it... but no mention to be found on ATI's site. But now that they are opensource these things can change! (Or at least be fscking documented correctly)

  • At work we have at least five different computers with nvidia cards running the closed-source drivers because that's the only way we can fully exploit the hardware for GPGPU. (nouveau does not support CUDA nor OpenCL yet). Do these open source drivers have support for the OpenCL/FireStream coding?
    • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Saturday August 21, 2010 @05:19AM (#33322442) Journal

      nouveau does not support CUDA nor OpenCL yet

      One of the projects I've recently been involved with is a GPGPU compiler for nVidia cards using a friendly fork of Nouveau. The interfaces to the compute units have been reverse engineered, as have the instruction sets for the compute shaders. This means that we are currently able to load and run GPGPU programs compiled without any nVidia code. So, there is enough information available to implement OpenCL for nVidia cards, meaning it's likely to appear in the next few months.

  • I too tried to buy a new ATI card, but after a little 5830 64-bit ubuntu driver fiasco [hyperom.com] I gave up and went with nVidia.
    It's really sad when open driver is slow, and proprietary is buggy to the point of being not worth the time to install, and explanations going around the lines of "well, 3D graphics is much faster, but 2D kinda suffers".
    While nVidia drivers are closed, so far I was more lucky with them under linux, and they pretty much 'just work'.

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