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AMD Graphics Linux Business Software Hardware

AMD's OverDrive and CrossFire Come To Linux 82

Posted by timothy
from the first-they-laugh-then-they-create-drivers dept.
twljagflba writes "Since last year AMD has made ATI increasingly Linux friendly by releasing 3D programming guides and helping out the open-source community. At the same time they have been continuing to develop their binary Catalyst driver for the Linux platform and most recently they delivered same-day support for their new graphics cards. Today though they have released the Catalyst 8.8 Linux driver that adds two very important features: CrossFire and OverDrive support for Linux. Linux users are now able to use CrossFire to split the rendering workload between multiple GPUs and they're also able to overclock their graphics cards now using the binary-only driver. Phoronix has a complete run-down on both features — including benchmarks — in their AMD OverDrive on Linux and ATI Radeon CrossFire On Linux articles. Other features were also introduced in this update such as Linux 2.6.26 kernel support, Adaptive Anti-Aliasing, and other fixes."
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AMD's OverDrive and CrossFire Come To Linux

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  • Awesome! (Score:5, Funny)

    by PC and Sony Fanboy (1248258) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @03:17PM (#24679115) Journal
    GREAT! Now I can play ... uh ... well, someone can make some visually awesome (exclusive) games that I can play for linux!

    YOTLD FTW!
    • Re:Awesome! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by edlinfan (1131341) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @03:23PM (#24679205)

      Y'know, games aren't the only things that benefit from powerful video acceleration. I use my linux box for 3d modeling -- if I had crossfire-compliant cards, you can bet I would be downloading this software right now.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by QuantumRiff (120817)

      Id Games? I've been enjoying Enemy Territory: Quake Wars for a long time on Ubuntu. (although the newest Ubuntu 8.04's pulseaudio seems to have broken the Microphone part of the audio, not Id's fault)

      Besides, you can always right your own rendered 3d version of Soduko!

      • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Besides, you can always right your own rendered 3d version of Soduko!

        If he rights his own version of Soduko, then there would be nothing left to do!!

      • You say it's not id's fault that the microphone isn't working, but I have had a lot of trouble getting their games to work with ALSA. And for that, the blame goes squarely on id.
    • by mweather (1089505)
      If you're judging on exclusives only, Windows doesn't look all that attractive either.
      • by Kjella (173770)

        If you're judging on exclusives only, Windows doesn't look all that attractive either.

        An XB360 can never become a PS3 or vice versa. A Linux computer can always become a Windows computer (reboot). If I rephrase the grandparent as "games that can't already be played on this hardware" you're looking at a very slim list. That said, if you're running Linux it's of course much better to be able to play them under Linux without killing everything else you got running. On that note, I hope more games will be available through Steam and the like. It would seem many games whose only WINE problem is t

    • by jovetoo (629494)
      EVE? http://www.eve-online.com/ [eve-online.com]
    • by Grishnakh (216268)

      We already have awsome, exclusive games for Linux. Haven't you played TuxRacer yet?

  • by XanC (644172)

    I would snap up a 790GX-based board in no time flat for HTPC / big-screen gaming purposes, but it doesn't support more than 2-channel LPCM over the HDMI port!!

    • Wait, CrossFire between the 780G and HD4850 is supported? I thought that was CrossFireX related. =/

    • I'm starting to get tired of _hearing myself_ say this, but it is not getting any better. When are they going to support us in our efforts to decode HD video on a GPU? We need ridiculously powerful CPU in a Linux machine to even come close to what a low power MSFT machine can do with HD video. The reason is that MSFT can offload the work to the GPU.

      Seriously!!! What the heck is going on here? Why do the GPU makers want us to invest our money in CPUs instead of GPUs? Wouldn't ATI and nVidia rather get

  • And on Windows? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MBCook (132727) <foobarsoft@foobarsoft.com> on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @03:26PM (#24679263) Homepage

    I've got to say I'm disappointed they don't provide Crossfire numbers for the same hardware on Windows. It's nice that Crossfire can improve things in some situations and some games that are supported under Linux, but I'd like to know the relative benefit.

    That is, when going to Crossfire do both Windows and Linux gain 40 FPS? Or do they both go up 60%? Or does Windows go up by 70% to 100 FPS where Linux only goes up 40% to 80 FPS?

    How close are they? That's what I'd like to know.

    I also find the "we had no problems except for some segfaults during Quake Wars, and they say that will be fixed in a month or two with the next version" a little worrying. A problem with a driver is a game looking off, or having slow frame rates. Segfaulting the system is not a problem, it's a BIG PROBLEM.

    • by ByOhTek (1181381)

      did it say the /OS/ segfaulted? I'm pretty sure I had apps segfault in Linux without taking the OS down with them. Admittedly it's been a while since I've used Linux (about a year?), so I can't remember for certain.

      • Yes segfaults affect the application only (unless the kernel itself segfaults, which never happened for me). Although if it's a driver that segfaults it may bring down the system, I think if it's built as a module and not compiled into the kernel it shouldn't
        • by repvik (96666)

          Being built as a module makes it no different from an in-kernel driver once it is loaded. A crashing driver would have the same effect whether it's a module or not.

        • by joe_cot (1011355)
          True, if the video driver segfaults, it'll only take down the display. You won't be able to see anything, but other than that, the system will be fine.
          • by ByOhTek (1181381)

            If you are logged in via kdm/gdm/xdm, it will also log out (at least in FreeBSD, the intel driver on my notebook has done that to me a couple of times in an older version of xorg).

            Still, that's annoying, not a system crash.

    • by ruinevil (852677)
      Gaming usually better on Windows, since DirectX actually uses the new features on the GPUs where as Linux's OpenGL hasn't evolved quite as much, since it is primarily used in proprietary 3D CAD programs, which requires a stable codebase. The huge differences in between major DirectX versions does tend to screw up everything though.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by binarylarry (1338699)

        That's completely wrong.

        OpenGL supports all the latest features of graphics hardware. Some of the features are ARB extensions and the like, but you can do anything in OpenGL that you could do in Direct3d.

        Do you honestly think id would be developing their next gen titles with OpenGL, if OpenGL was a crippled shadow of d3d might? No, OpenGL is comparable. OpenGL's main problem is that its really, really crufty because it supports every feature known to man, things Direct3d doesn't. Unfortunately, most of thes

        • by walshy007 (906710)
          mod parent up
        • by Yfrwlf (998822)
          That was my question that I never saw answered there, what was so important about extensions being "moved to core". If they still worked, but aren't completely "official" as part of the "official" specs and packages, so what? As long as the API is stable, the only issue I can think of would be possible issues with those extensions not being installed on the user's computer? DirectX gets around this partially by providing the most recent versions of DX along with the programs any way, so until the extensi
      • ... Linux's OpenGL hasn't evolved quite as much ...

        I don't know what you mean. OpenGL isn't a Linux thing; it has implementations everywhere, including Windows. Also it's not a part of Linux. The drivers from nVidia, ATI, or Intel implement the OpenGL interface. There is Mesa, an implementation in software, but that doesn't really count since it's too slow to do any good.

        OpenGL isn't stagnant either. There was a new revision recently, OpenGL 3.0.

        Also I started writing this a couple of hours ago but kept getting interrupted. Maybe everything has chang

    • Re: Segfaulting, in the commercial market, such a release would be called "premature" and derided by gamers everywhere, but in a world where you can see the source, it could be an invitation to get involved by finding and crushing bugs.

      • by MBCook (132727)
        Right. But you can't see the source. Crossfire is only available with their binary blob driver. Whether that is temporary or permanent wasn't mentioned in the article.
    • I really hate when whiny posts like yours get modded insightful.

      If you want a comparison between linux and windows with this on/off, THEN GO DO IT YOURSELF. who the hell should do the work you're interested in except you?

      For everyone else than you this is a great step forward in getting compatibility and options for linux. I think it's great, and applaud it.

      • by initdeep (1073290)

        I really hate when whiny posts like yours get modded insightful.

        Maybe his post was modded insightful because he's not the only person wondering this?

        Most "Gamers" are looking for the highest frame rates, and knowing if there is a large difference between the Windows frame rates and the Linux frame rates for the same games and same setup would be something most of them are VERY interested in.

  • Nice (Score:4, Informative)

    by ByOhTek (1181381) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @03:26PM (#24679269) Journal

    It's nice to see they are providing both their own driver implementation AND the specs for OSS drivers.

    Once the OSS drivers are done, then even within the realm AMD cards, users will still have some choice.

    At least in Linux. Us FreeBSD users will have the OSS only...

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by larry bagina (561269)
      It's funny, isn't it... all the GPL/GNU zealots talk shit about Freedom, but it's the BSD folks that quietly have the principles.
      • by DirkGently (32794)

        ...along with 3D acceleration and driver support thats even worse than what we Linux zealots have to put up with.

        Personally, I traded in my indignity for usable drivers on nVidia chips. I'd do the same thing with my Via CX700M if I thought Via were compentant enough to write them.

        • by eldepeche (854916)
          Personally, I traded in my indignity for usable drivers on nVidia chips.

          You still sound pretty indignant to me.
      • by MrHanky (141717)

        Lack of third party support is principles? Sounds like a crap principle.

      • Re:Nice (Score:4, Insightful)

        by neuro88 (674248) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @04:01PM (#24679991)

        It's funny, isn't it... all the GPL/GNU zealots talk shit about Freedom, but it's the BSD folks that quietly have the principles.

        What? You're saying this because there are no proprietary radeon drivers for BSD? What about the closed source nvidia drivers? There aren't any proprietary radeon drivers for BSD, because AMD/ATI feel BSD doesn't have enough users to be important, not because of the principles of the BSD folks.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by fostware (551290)
        Yeah, and look who's principled code accounts for a metric truckload of commercial code.

        Windows 2000's TCP stack became reliable once they inserted large chunks of BSD code to get things done. And all BSD gets back is FUD.
        • by dook43 (660162)
          Um, no. You're spreading FUD. There are no BSD code snippets within the MS TCP stack, just userland utilities. http://www.kuro5hin.org/?op=displaystory;sid=2001/6/19/05641/7357 [kuro5hin.org]

          Eventually the new, from scratch TCP/IP stack was done and shipped with NT 3.5 (the second version, despite the number) in late 1994. The same stack was also included with Windows 95. However, it looks like some of those Unix utilities were never rewritten. If you look at the executables, you can still see the copyright notice fr

  • great (Score:3, Funny)

    by extirpater (132500) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @03:32PM (#24679411)

    my shell will run a lot faster! i'm wondering my "ls" performance.

  • No matter how hard AMD tries, ATI will be a second choice for linux-box builders for years at least. The Nvidia drivers are currently much more reliable than their ATI counterparts, and forcing Nvidia's reputation for greatness to disappear will be very tough for ATI, unless Nvidia screws up big-time. It's nice to see that they're trying, though.
    • Re:Second choice (Score:4, Informative)

      by wild_berry (448019) * on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @05:36PM (#24681825) Journal

      2005 called and asked for their gripe back. The reputation of the most recent ATI drivers is much enhanced from what it was. And whether someone will buy nVidia, Intel or ATI graphics for Linux depends upon their preference for powerful but proprietary binaries, free software compositing and low power consumption or the choice of reasonable performance in ATI's binaries or high-performance free software from the X.Org drivers.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by h4rm0ny (722443)

        You're joking? I got a HD2600Pro at the end of last year. 3D was still problematic back then, but the 2D ran very well. By this point, it has excellent support. The turn around this year so far has been enormous. I'd definitely recommend ATI cards as having the best support in Linux now because as well as a good (and regular) update program, you have the OSS projects running in parallel. They are also the most OSS friendly graphics card company and I bought ATI rather than NVIDIA for that reason, likewise
        • No facts == fail. (Score:1, Flamebait)

          by wild_berry (448019) *

          Just WTF did you think I said? I'd buy ATI tech today because of the free drivers. As I understand it, the performance of the ATI Linux blobs doesn't completely match that of their Windows ones, where the nVidia drivers pretty much do. Can you educate me with a link to facts?

      • correction: Intel has open-source drivers

        • You've parsed the text wrong. Watch how the list matches up when you examine what I really wrote: "nVidia[1], Intel[2] or ATI[3] graphics for Linux depends upon their preference for powerful but proprietary binaries[1], free software compositing and low power consumption[2] or the choice of reasonable performance in ATI's binaries or high-performance free software from the X.Org drivers[3]."

          Unless you're nitpicking about free software/open source, what did you mean? (And if you're on that trip, the Intel

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by LWATCDR (28044)

      You are so out of date.
      ATI has made great progress and is not working with the FOSS community to produce "Free" drivers that will make even the biggest FOSS fan happy.
      I used to stick with Nvidia because of their Linux support. My next box is probably going to have ATI all the way.

      • by imbaczek (690596)
        mine already has. nvidia has terrible issues with 2d performance, compiz was next to unusable for me (6600gt was sooo much slower than an integrated intel 945 on a freaking laptop!) not to mention running games in compiz made them run at 1 fps.

        haven't installed linux yet though, so I can't speak from experience how ATI fares.
        • by Locomorto (925016)
          Did you install the NVIDIA binary drivers? Also, make sure you don't use XGL because then that is the only app that can control the 3D card. I can't remember off the top of my head what the alternative is. One thing is for sure though, ATI are worse then NVIDIA at this, or atleast, where the last time I looked (~6 months ago last time). I've used XGL and its descendants since their inception. First I used a 9600 Mobility Pro, which had reasonable support in the driver (performance wise). Never chips had _h
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by siride (974284)
        Thank you. I have an x300 in a Thinkpad T43 and while the first year was rough, the OSS drivers have improved markedly. 2d performance is nearly on par with Windows, and is actually quite snappy with xcompmgr running. Compiz is also fairly fast these days, although still slower than a plain old desktop. X is rock solid stable, even using git for the entire X setup (I haven't had a random server crash once). And every week or so, I see a new set of commits that improve performance for r300 or EXA. It j
        • by Yfrwlf (998822)
          Now if Linux could just get a hold of some more games, like the porting of a bunch of the games available through Steam for example (something that was hinted at), Linux users would have more of a reason to care about buying faster hardware. Right now I'm still running a Radeon 9800 along with an AMD Athlon 64, and really love it how it's way more than enough for Linux which is one reason Linux is awesome, but without some more high end games hitting it, and ones that I'm actually interested in playing (wh
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by j3tt (859525)
      I used to have problems with a mobility Radeon on my Thinkpad T40 a couple of years ago but things may have changed ... I currently have Ubuntu Hardy on a Thinkpad T60 with an ATI x1300. compiz ran out of the box. Have not had issues so far.
  • Really? (Score:4, Funny)

    by jgtg32a (1173373) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @03:52PM (#24679799)
    I just went through hell and back getting my 1950pro to work last week end.

    Moral of the story hard work is never rewarded only procrastination is
  • Since last year AMD has made ATI increasingly Linux friendly...

    On average, my experience with ATI's drivers kind of go like this:

    • Maybe get the driver to compile, the first time. Probably not, so I spend an hour browsing help forums looking for similar problems.
    • Get X configured. Go through a few hundred "black screen of deaths" that locks up the whole damned system, NOT just X Windows. This happens every time you try to restart X Windows with Ctrl-Alt-Backspace, run 'X -configure' or a click a logout button in your Window Manager.
    • Hard reset the system. Because the d
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by IBBoard (1128019)

      Strange. On average I've had two Linux and ATI experiences:

      1) Download pre-built RPMs from Livna. Install using package manager. Restart and go.

      2) Give up on waiting for Livna to make new releases. Download drivers from ATI. Compile using built-in "Fedora X" version. Install RPMs. Let RPMs reconfigure my XOrg.conf properly (or just change "radeon" to "fglrx" by hand, because that's all it seems to need). Run with graphical acceleration without a problem.

      The only time I've had a problem is with Fedora 9, and

    • by initdeep (1073290)

      try installing using an nVidia 6150 onboard chip and then try to figure out where the mouse pointer is......

      i abandoned Linux on one computer over this issue.
      It wasn't worth the time to maintain on every new install.

      switching to a computer with an ATI 2400 works nearly flawlessly.

  • Now can ATI submit a kernel patch so we can use our FPU in cuda like fashion for all tasks? That would be nice. Can we also get a kernel patch that can automagically detect other local computers and automagically use their CPUs/FPUs real time in addition to the local terminal like a beowulf cluster?

    These are things that should've already happened a couple years back.

    "Yes, my cell phone is slow, but when I'm on my wifi-N network, it has the power of my desktop quad 4 extreme, and I can even play farcry 2 a

  • Does that mean we now have h.264 and/or Blu-ray support under Linux?

    And I don't mean "I can play my 1080p Batman Begins just fine on my 2.6 GHz Quad Core" crap. I mean something that allows me to build a low power HTPC running Linux with hardware decoding.

Testing can show the presense of bugs, but not their absence. -- Dijkstra

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