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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ati ± linux, catalyst

Latest Thread Comments (29 total)
Posted by Geo on Friday, 07-Sep-07 14:23:28 UTC

Posted by Kaotik on Wednesday, 12-Sep-07 20:34:08 UTC
First specs out:

Posted by Dave Baumann on Thursday, 13-Sep-07 12:40:35 UTC

8.41 went up yesterday.

Posted by B3D News AMD releases highly anticipated Linux driver for HD 2xxx series on Thursday, 13-Sep-07 13:58:35 UTC
For the last week, AMD has been sending tremors through the Linux community. Yesterday we reported on one of their promises coming to pass when documention of the internals of the RV530 interfaces showed up on the web. Today, we can add that the new Linux driver for the HD 2xxx series is also availble. Early reports on this driver core suggest that performance gains of 40-90% may be seen in OpenGL games like Doom 3 and Quake 4 for older Radeon GPUs. For those of you with long memories, this would be the fruits of the fabled "OpenGL rewrite" slowly coming to pass. Read the full news item (

Posted by Tim Murray on Thursday, 13-Sep-07 14:02:49 UTC
The story thus far:

1. This is the first Linux driver with Orca built-in.
2. R6xx has always been using Orca, which is apparently why it took until now to get drivers for it.
3. This puts the Linux and Windows OpenGL teams in sync for the first time in a long time, so you'll see gains carrying over between platforms.
4. If you remember Cat 7.1, the first Orca driver, it was a disaster in terms of stability and performance. I expect that this is similarly untested on non-R600 cards, although who knows at this point.

Posted by Miksu on Thursday, 13-Sep-07 15:32:36 UTC
Quoting Geo
Hope someone does a thorough review of it...
How about Beyond3D?

Posted by Geo on Thursday, 13-Sep-07 15:53:32 UTC
We're really not setup to do Linux reviews at the current time, tho we've discussed the possibility of adding that. The other problem is, what I was pointing at with that comment, re the performance increases for older Radeons, is still non-reccomended usage by ATI at the current time.

Posted by Fox5 on Friday, 21-Sep-07 18:20:12 UTC
Quoting Nite_Hawk
There are a non-insignificant number of people who play WoW under linux using wine. If this increases WoW opengl performance under wine it'll be a big hit for a lot of people. Especially if it brings performance anywhere close to running it using D3D under windows.

I think WoW under wine actually runs better in D3d mode than OpenGL.

Posted by Nite_Hawk on Friday, 21-Sep-07 19:01:38 UTC
Quoting Fox5
I think WoW under wine actually runs better in D3d mode than OpenGL.
It's been a while since I tried using D3D mode (it used to be broken). I'll have to try it again, thanks! :)Nite_Hawk

Posted by Fox5 on Friday, 21-Sep-07 20:10:54 UTC
Quoting Nite_Hawk
It's been a while since I tried using D3D mode (it used to be broken). I'll have to try it again, thanks! :)

I think it varies from version to version, patch to patch, but I do think it's working more than it isn't now.
I could be confusing it with cedega though.

Either way, I believe the reason the d3d mode runs better is on WoW's side of things and not wine's (I think the opengl version is slower and more problematic than the directx version even in windows).

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