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ATI has different priorities than eyecandy for fanboys. The Linux desktop market is miniscule and any responsible business has priorties. This was all discussed on a recent interview over at Rage3d.com. At this point, it might not even make sense for them to work on RENDER in their drivers and just go ahead and improve the OpenGL performance on linux.
My mediocre 9600 (tweaked a bit) plays FarCry on windows at 1024x768 with lots of extra eyecandy with nice framerates. The transistors are there, just not the drivers.