AMD opens up to Linux; Better support and open source drivers promised

Wednesday 05th September 2007, 07:07:00 PM, written by Farid

AMD just announced that its upcoming Catalyst 7.9 drivers for Linux will not only finally provide support to HD 2000 series on the OS, but it is also claimed to host the most significant series of enhancements ever for Linux users. As far as AMD graphics drivers are concerned, that is. AMD decided to please Open Source supporters today as well, as one of their representatives publicly discussed releasing an Open Source version of their graphics drivers.

With the September release of Catalyst 7.9 drivers (fglrx 8.41), Linux users will be able to harness the 3D acceleration capabilities of their latest Radeon HD 2000 series card. Phoronix was given the chance to preview this new and promising display driver, and judging from their primarily game benchmarks, it seems that AMD delivered nicely on that front. The driver still does not support Accelerated Indirect GLX (AIGLX), which is used to deliver 3D accelerated desktop, but AMD expects to include support for it during Q4 2007.

The good news from AMD for Open Source proponents out there is not stopping with an announcement of a stonger commitment from the company to release better drivers for the Linux platform. Indeed, reports that AMD’s spokesperson at the Linux kernel summit 07 said the company planned to release specifications and source code for a basic driver for all its graphics processors from the R500 (X1000 series) and forward. A 2D Open Source driver is expected as soon as the end of the year. This news will make the lives of the developers who work on unsupported Open Source drivers for AMD graphics chips much easier. With the specifications and a basic skeleton of a driver to work with, they will not have to rely only on reverse engineering anymore to write their code.

ATI graphics cards have never been famous for the great quality of their Linux/GNU drivers, to say the least. But with the recent buyout of the company by CPU giant AMD, it seems that Open Source became a more important factor for the company’s graphics activities, as today’s announcements can attest.
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