Linked by David Adams on Thu 18th Aug 2011 19:09 UTC, submitted by Michael
Graphics, User Interfaces While the BFS scheduler is getting ready to celebrate its second birthday, in just three weeks AMD's open-source Radeon graphics driver strategy for Linux will be turning four years old . . . which has ended up being a game-changer in the Linux world. AMD continues to support open-source hardware enablement on their latest graphics processors and recently even hired more developers to work on the code and documentation. How far have they come though in four years?
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If you need all features of the hardware and well performing drivers you still have to choose the NVidia closed source drivers.

Your statement is under serious challenge right now.

The closed source drivers (either those from nVidia or fglrx from AMD/ATI) do not implement either Kernel Mode Setting (KMS) or graphics memory management in the kernel. This precludes them from working with Wayland.

Then of course there is the perennial problem that proprietary drivers do not update with kernel updates, so a new kernel breaks these drivers.

The features currently covered by open source radeon drivers (for AMD/ATI GPUs) are tracked on this page:

This is updating rapidly. Even video decode is happening, even though AMD/ATI did not release programming specifications for UVD, so the drivers are using the 3D engine instead. This will bring video decode acceleration even to AMD GPUs which do not have a dedicated hardware video decode capability.

BTW, there is a Google Summer of Code project to implement a hardware video decoder for WebM using the 3D engine. This project will bring hardware video decoding for WebM video even to GPUs which do not have a dedicated hardware decoder for that codec.

Tuning for for performance of the open source drivers has not really been undertaken in earnest yet, as the final pieces of functionality are still being worked on. Even so, if you had looked into it a few months ago, you would have seen that performance was about 60% of that of the closed source driver (fglrx). Right now it is perhaps 80%. In a few months time ...

In a few months time it is likely that the radeon open source Gallium3D drivers will overtake the closed source driver fglrx for performance. OpenGL 3 compliance will be reached, and OgpenGL 4.x work will be underway. The open source radeon driver is a part of the kernel, and it updates automatically and seamlessly with Xserver updates and kernel updates. Running the new Wayland graphics server is not a problem at all.

When this all occurs, IMO your statement will be well and truly overtaken by events.

Edited 2011-08-19 00:51 UTC

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