Wednesday, January 28, 2009

More Grafix!!

Lusers are always screechin' that they could write kick-ass Linux drivers for hardware if the designers would just open their specs. Nowhere is this heard more than in the arena of graphics cards. For years, Linux zealots begged the big companies to release specs, and they would have kickass drivers written for them in no time.

Well, along comes Intel, who believes the hype and releases the source code for their graphics cards. It has mostly worked out, and there have been few issues (I have still heard people report Suspend issues with Intel cards). However, Intel GPUs have a reputation for being simple and not meant for high-end performance.

Well, that is just dandy. Now, AMD/ATI comes along and says, "well, if Intel is going to give in to a <1% markeshare os, then we will too!" They opened up a bunch of their docs and let the freetards loose on them. Some of these docs have been available since September 2007. Most of them have been available for nearly a year.

Let's check up on the progress, shall we?

Wow! Support for textures and pixel shaders is at best mostly done on R500 and later cards. Those are hardly necessary for modern games (or any 3d application), though. Are there any other problems?

The following subsystems have not been implemented yet or show some limitations:

  • 3D acceleration is only implemented on R5xx and RS6xx upto now. Also no XVideo on newer chips (needs 3D engine for scaling). Still, fullscreen video is working fluently with shadowfb for many users. An experimental 3D bringup tool is now available for testing.

  • No TV and Component connector support so far.

  • Suspend & Resume isn't completely tested, but works on a variety of hardware. Your mileage may vary. Note that typically you need some BIOS workarounds on the kernel command line, ask your distribution for that.

  • No powermanagement yet. Depending on your hardware, the fan might run at full speed. This turned out to be really tricky.

Well, the freetards have managed to create a little 3d acceleration, and they have not fully managed to fix the major problems with the fglrx drivers: bad ACPI support. It only took them 15 months to do it! I feel freer already!

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