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AMD Graphics Open Source Hardware Linux

AMD Develops New Linux Open-Source Driver Model 142

An anonymous reader writes "AMD privately shared with Phoronix during GDC2014 that they're developing a new Linux driver model. While there will still be an open (Gallium3D) and closed-source (Catalyst) driver, the Catalyst driver will be much smaller. AMD developers are trying to isolate the closed-source portion of the driver to just user-space while the kernel driver that's in the mainline Linux kernel would also be used by Catalyst. It's not clear if this will ultimately work but they hope it will for reducing code duplication, eliminating fragmentation with different kernels, and allowing open and closed-source driver developers to better collaborate over the AMD Radeon Linux kernel driver."
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AMD Develops New Linux Open-Source Driver Model

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  • Better integrated GPUs in lower-cost CPUs. Why choose Intel?

    • Intel (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Lower power consumption in better CPUs. Why choose AMD?

      • Re:Intel (Score:5, Informative)

        by Rich0 ( 548339 ) on Saturday March 22, 2014 @05:23PM (#46553763) Homepage

        Lower power consumption in better CPUs. Why choose AMD?

        The most recent generation of chips definitely has power issues, but it seems like you get a lot more bang for your buck with AMD. What can you get that is decent from Intel for $120? You can get a fairly decent chip from AMD for that.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by ArcadeMan ( 2766669 )

          Hell, a 40$ APU from AMD beats anything Intel has to offer for almost twice as much, not to mention that even at that price the AMD has a decent GPU while the Intel has none at all.

          • Re:Intel (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Rich0 ( 548339 ) on Saturday March 22, 2014 @05:43PM (#46553869) Homepage

            Hell, a 40$ APU from AMD beats anything Intel has to offer for almost twice as much, not to mention that even at that price the AMD has a decent GPU while the Intel has none at all.

            This is why I think AMD tends to be represented more in the DIY arena. Companies like Dell don't want to sell you a $150 CPU+motherboard upgrade. They want to sell you a $1200 PC. If you're going to throw away your old case, PSU, video card, RAM, hard drive, DVD drive, etc - then you might as well spend an extra $200 on the CPU.

            On the other hand, if you're only upgrading CPU+MB, and maybe RAM, then AMD makes a lot more sense. If my options are to spend $500 every 6 years on an Intel CPU+MB, or $150 every other year on an AMD CPU+MB, then I'll take the latter. I'll actually spend less money, and for most of the time I'll have a better system. Sure, the Intel system will outperform the AMD system in years 1-2, but the AMD system will outperform in years 3-6, and by a huge margin in the last two years. A CPU is a rapidly-depreciating asset, so it doesn't make a lot of sense to spend a lot of money going high-end - you're far better off buying something moderate and replacing it more often. Then Moore's Law will work for you, and not against you.

            • by Kjella ( 173770 )

              If my options are to spend $500 every 6 years on an Intel CPU+MB, or $150 every other year on an AMD CPU+MB, then I'll take the latter. I'll actually spend less money, and for most of the time I'll have a better system. Sure, the Intel system will outperform the AMD system in years 1-2, but the AMD system will outperform in years 3-6, and by a huge margin in the last two years. A CPU is a rapidly-depreciating asset

              Not really. I'm still using an i7-860 from 2009, if you compare [anandtech.com] them to an FX-8350 they're trading blows, the Intel wins 9 of these benchmarks and AMD 4. Granted the FX-8350 was released in 2012, but AMD doesn't have anything newer while Intel does. In terms of "what would be an upgrade for me?" it's not even close, I was considering the i7-4770K but while clearly superior to my processor it's still not compelling enough. Personally I'm looking at possibly buying a Haswell-E/X99 combo, because despite the h

              • Re:Intel (Score:5, Insightful)

                by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <bassbeast1968@@@gmail...com> on Saturday March 22, 2014 @10:17PM (#46555145) Journal

                What you fail to mention is the fact you could have probably built most if not all of an AMD 6 core system for the cost of the i7-860 alone, and if one were to go one notch down to the quads (which lets face it software just hasn't kept up with hardware and even more triple cores spend more time at idle than under load) then one could have easily built the entire system. The 8 cores were built just to say they could and frankly have never been priced competitively, no different than those 5Ghz chips they released not too long ago.

                My oldest boy has an AMD hexacore, 8Gb of RAM, a 1Tb HDD and an HD7750, the whole system ended up costing something like $375 after MIRs. It kicks ass at gaming, transcoding, hell it'll do anything your average user will be able to think up for a PC to do and do so quite well and cost a grand total of $70 more than your i7-860 BY ITSELF without so much as a stick of RAM or anything according to Intel. [intel.com]

                So if you want to sit here and argue that you are one of the 1% that actually NEED every MHz of speed you can get, which until we see benches done that are compiled with GCC I wouldn't trust the benches BTW but that is a different story, then fine, do so. But the bang for the buck is so far in AMD's camp right now it isn't even funny, you can choose from several quad cores including fully unlocked for less than a Pentium Dual, and if all you care about is power the AMD Jaguars spank the Intel Atoms on performance while using less than 25w for a quad. AMD is just a crazy deal ATM which is why I've had no complaints when it comes to being AMD exclusive, the customers get great performance at a great price.

                • by Anonymous Coward
                  The problem is though that AMD's single core performance is not just lacking, it is appalling. a quad core i7 will easily outperform a hexacore AMD on multi threaded loads and it will absolutely cream it on single threaded/sequencial loads. AMD has it's advantages, but performance an longevity aint it. If you are trying to save a few dollars and bang for buck is most important than AMD does well. But if you want performance then AMD aren't even playing in the same league.
                  • by Mashdar ( 876825 )

                    I would say AMD generally prices their parts competatively. If you are talking about >$300 Intel parts, you are correct that AMD has nothing to offer (I don't count 220W parts as viable, as I'm not in the market for a desk-side-vacuum-cleaner). But at $180 an FX-8350 looks pretty competative vs a $200 i5-4570:
                    http://www.tomshardware.com/ch... [tomshardware.com]
                    If you are using efficiently multi-process applications (e.g. video compression), AMD is the clear winner. If you are using mostly-single-process applications (Blizz

                    • by Bengie ( 1121981 )
                      Except AMD's "TDP" is what you should see in the real world and Intel's "TDP" is worst case and should almost never see. Almost every comaprison that I have seen of AMD's CPUs from the past 3 years have all consumed about 2x the power for the same amount of work, no matter the performance.

                      On idle vs load, AMD is running about 25watts per hour more idle and about 60watts per hour more under load. Assuming 22 hours per day idle and 2 hours full load, that's about an extra 244 KWHs per year extra for AMD. Fo
                    • Sorry but I have to call bull. I have an AMD hexa (Phenom II 1035T if it matters) and idling according to IES (the Asrock OCing tool) my board is using around 8-16w simply depending on when little background tasks kick up one of the cores and under full bore I have yet to be able to hit 80w and that was with a 6 core WMV to AVI video transcode which is pretty damned CPU intensive if you have ever worked with WMV files.

                      And where do you get $50 in computer costs? as I said I built a complete hexacore system f

              • Funny, but I changed from an i7-860 to an FX-8350 last year... It was because the motherboard went bad, not because it was too slow... I find that the 8350 does a lot better for the work I do (web application dev, generally with a couple of different DBs in the background) I have 32GB of ram, but it's only seeing 24 for some reason... next time I wipe and re-install, will probably update the bios. That said, it is still leaps and bounds better than the i7 for me. I cannot attest to gaming, as I don't rea
                • by laffer1 ( 701823 )

                  Funny, but I changed from an AMD Phenom II X6 1090t to an Intel Core i7 4770 because the motherboard went bad. I find that the Intel does a lot better for the work I do, web app development, operating system development and gaming.

                  The real point is that AMD has nothing for power users. If you want to be cheap and go sub $200 for your CPU, AMD is great. If you want real power, AMD can't help you. They just don't care about power users anymore. The only line I can even look at on the desktop side is the FX

                  • Genuinely curious here.. what kind of salary range do you think is appropriate for a person to be spending $200+ on CPU alone?

              • Re:Intel (Score:5, Informative)

                by Rockoon ( 1252108 ) on Sunday March 23, 2014 @02:33AM (#46555965)
                A comparison amongst users in typical rigs, rather than in review-site benchmark rigs. [cpubenchmark.net]
                i7-860 1217 / 5110 (812 samples, single threaded / overall)
                FX-8350 1512 / 9049 (3149 samples, single threaded / overall)

                The AMD in question is winning against the Intel in question in single threaded, and winning greatly in multi-threaded. However this AMD chip, at $200, is not really what the GP was talking about. He was talking about ~$150 APU's that also saves him money on a video card.

                Comparison of the i7-860 vs the A10-6800K [cpubenchmark.net]

                i7-860 1217 / 5110 (812 samples, single threaded / overall)
                A10-6800K 1555 / 5006 (205 samples, single threaded / overall)
                • by Kjella ( 173770 )

                  Humm... a site that offers absolutely no actual benchmarks just a mysterious performance number (check their FAQ [passmark.com]) with zero ability to reproduce or verify, submitted by users with all kinds of overclocked rigs that's credible. For example it claims the FX-8350 has much better single thread performance (1,512) vs (1,217) which is not supported by any serious review I can find. So either the whole world is in a conspiracy against Passmark, or these numbers are a joke. I wonder how much AMD paid them to invent

                  • As opposed to all the "official" benchmarks that have been compiled to give Intel an edge against AMD?

                  • For example it claims the FX-8350 has much better single thread performance (1,512) vs (1,217) which is not supported by any serious review I can find.

                    Its supported by the one you linked to, whose results you either clearly misunderstood or completely misrepresented on purpose.

                    You claimed that the Intel won 9 benchmarks while the AMD only won 4, but in actuality when someone carefully looks at the results its the Intel that only won a single benchmark, not the 9 you claimed, while the AMD won the other 12. Note where it says "lower is better" and "higher is better" you are supposed to use your brain in order to interpret the results rather than misrepr

          • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

            And a midrange i5 CPU will beat AMD's top of the line FX-8350, so what is your point? Both of those cost the same.

          • Look like you've missed the last two generations of Intel HD video. An Intel HD 5000 is a VERY GOOD video card, even for some gaming (though not sure about last-gen gaming).

        • With Intel I get 12hs out of my laptop (MacBook Air 2013). I'd never go AMD on a laptop.

          Then again, you're right that you get more bang for buck: my desktop is AMD. Eight 3.0Ghz cores for a very low price. But price isn't always the only factor.

      • Why choose AMD?

        Because they're trying to wean us off this IBM PC/x86 nonsense?

        • by epyT-R ( 613989 )

          To be fair, intel did try this, too (ia64). It was amd that extended x86 to 64 bit land.

      • I chose AMD because Intel is very aggressive about market segmentation. I wanted a MiniITX board with a low-power CPU and (at least) 4 SATA ports (so I could have RAID-Z and an optical drive). Intel Atom boards all restricted the number of SATA ports (a quick look now seems to show that they all come with 2 ports). If I wanted Intel and 4 SATA ports, I was pushed to the more expensive i3 range.
    • by epyT-R ( 613989 )

      Why choose intel?
      1. better performance in just about everything
      2. lower power consumption
      3. more overclocking headroom
      4. chipsets 'just work' and don't tend to have bizarre compatibility problems.

      • For *most* people, I would go with AMD, imho for general purpose at the mid-range, you get a lot for the money with AMD.. so for my parents, grandparents, and the like I would use AMD. Same goes for a starter kids system... you can start with the integrated APU and throw in a dedicated GPU a year or two later. AMD sockets tend to stick around forever, and can generally get an upgrade in.

        On the higher end it really depends. If you are doing software development, then the multi-core support of an 8350 m
      • Why choose intel?
        1. better performance in just about everything

        If you're willing to pay. Not everyone need the top performing CPU on the market.

        2. lower power consumption

        A very valid point, but irrelevant on the desktop area (unless you live somewhere where electricity is expensive, maybe?). Quite valid for laptops though.

        3. more overclocking headroom

        Really? You think that will make people choose Intel? 90+% of the people don't even know what overclocking is.

        4. chipsets 'just work' and don't tend to have bizarre compatibility problems.

        As do AMD's.

        Sure, there's plenty of scenarios where Intel is a better choice. But there's plenty of others where AMD is the best choice.

    • And better beeetcoin mining .. zzz just kidding .. but nvidia sucks at bitcoin
    • This is good news indeed. The more open source drivers we use, the better. At least it is then possible to inspect and improve in principle, whereas with proprietory drivers, it's practically impossible.

      Thank you, AMD, for trying to make the world a better place!

  • Good for them (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ynot_82 ( 1023749 ) on Saturday March 22, 2014 @05:17PM (#46553713)

    Seems AMD have taken on-board what Nvidia chose to ignore.
    Being the advice offered by the Kernel devs

    http://lists.linux-foundation.... [linux-foundation.org]

  • Ever since I read this [gurufocus.com] article, I have been taking a closer look at AMD. What I find is that this is a company in trouble. When I visit computer shops, I do not see anything equivelent to AMD Inside!

    Question is: Does AMD still matter?

    • Well, both of the high-performance current-gen game consoles use AMD. On that basis alone, they're quite unlikely to go anywhere.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        You might have said the same thing about IBM's consumer PowerPC business relatively recently too ;)

        Being the chip in current consoles is *far* from a demonstration that you're not going anywhere. In fact, it's a sign that you're willing to give tech away for super cheap in order to get bulk orders in.

    • Of course it matters. For instance, I've been using AMD chips in all my computing devices since like 2005 after just horrible experience with my first Celeron (single-core, 2.0 GHz). AMD has proven to me over the time that they can make competitive CPUs (heck even GPUs, I got Radeon instead of nVidia too) and ask far less money for it than Intel would. And that's what counts for me cause thing like lifespan or power efficiency I can't really measure by myself.
    • by wjcofkc ( 964165 )
      AMD still has roughly 20% market share, so I would say yes, AMD still matters. It's a pretty big market for what can be considered only two-players. AMD certainly has it's struggles, and with the prospect of an NVIDIA\Intel APU alliance on the horizon competition is going to get tougher. But even then they will probably be the "most bang for your buck" option which is a large but not exclusive part of what is keeping them alive. I use AMD APU's, but as a Linux user the first thing I do is disable the Radeon
      • I use AMD APU's, but as a Linux user the first thing I do is disable the Radeon portion in the BIOS on pop in an NVIDIA card.

        That would be an extremely dumb thing to do with the current generation of APUs, what with all the extra performance the tightly-integrated cores can give you for anything not related to graphics.

        • by wjcofkc ( 964165 )
          I'm not even drinking yet I'm honestly not 100% sure what you are saying. I've tested it and CPU benchmarks are the same with or without using the integrated graphics. I'm not a gamer so I use cheap, lower end cards. I just really really hate dealing with Linux AMD drivers. I also dislike shared memory.
          • I'm HSAying what I'm HSAying. ;-)
            • HSA means maybe some limited parts of some applications will be sped up, in an indeterminate future, if code has been specifically written for it and if the linux support is good enough. And it is only for A10 7850, 7700 and 7600, the latter of which isn't available. And distros need to ship code that runs on every CPU.

          • Hi there, you don't need the proprietary drivers anymore. I use steam games, like portal, and portal2 (beta, but works better than on windos 7, where my kids say it crashes a lot) on an ATI 75xx video card using pure open source drivers (ubuntu 14.04) and it runs really, really well. I don't know what, if anything is missing, The card may run a little hotter and a bit slower than the proprietary drivers, but it works well enough that I am thrilled not to have to bother with them anymore.
    • That article for some reason ignores the last 2 quarters where AMD turned a profit. People have being saying AMD is finished for the last ten years, but yet it's still here.

    • They were worse off a couple of years back. Now that they have the Xbox One and the Playstation 4 as a steady revenue stream they won't go bankrupt any time soon. Stock ticker prices are also mostly irrelevant. AMD historically has been a company which seldom has had a single profitable year. If you take their financial performance as the sole indicator they should have gone bankrupt decades ago.

      I don't know about today but when I bought my AMD CPU a year or two back they had the higher integer performance

    • by Kjella ( 173770 )

      Well, AMD the company is quite different from AMD the Intel-competitor. While they seem to have stopped the downward trend for now, they're doing it by divesting their CPU/APU business and ramping up lots of semi-custom business like consoles and such. It might be a way for AMD to be profitable but large parts of the market will be left to Intel's mercy.

    • Yep

      Typing this on an AMD Phenom II x 6 core system with an ATI 7850 GPU. I got it in 2010 for $599 and it is a freaking 6 core with full virtualization at that price ... with an Asus board!! ... ok the gpu at the time was a ati 5750.

      I do vmware workstation for linux and website testing. I need lots of cores!

      An icore7 extreme with a non crippled bios would of nearly trippled the freaking price. Nvidia was pricing graphics cards at $1,000 before the latest Radeons x290 outperformed them for half the price. Th

      • I do vmware workstation for linux and website testing. I need lots of cores!

        As someone who manages a decent sized VMware vSphere environment, I can tell you that core counts are not so important as you may think. My AMD-based ESXi servers have triple and quadruple the cores of my Intel-based ESXi servers, yet they experience chronic problems with CPU Ready Time at far lower over-subscription rates and even sometimes while under-subscribed if some oversized VMs are present. It's one of the reasons I'm pushing through a complete shift away from high-core count Opterons (24 and 32 cor

        • In a server environment a xeon has a ton of cache and that would be ideal for very wide loads. As a workstation I need to make sure IE 6 renders the site right in one, apache outputs it in another, and a large part of the time is loading and unloading things I am learning. SSD really helps this.

          I/O or the lack of it would cause this too. The newer chips at AMD are inferior to the older onces per IPC. Things are true cores and not semi cores with shared cache and fpus. This would cause that issue for sure si

  • The X community has said specifically that this sort of end-run around the GPL is strictly forbidden. I expect yet another flame war over this at any moment.

    • The Radeon driver is under MIT, not GPL.

    • by Rich0 ( 548339 )

      The X community has said specifically that this sort of end-run around the GPL is strictly forbidden.

      Ultimately, only a court can say what is or isn't forbidden. I don't buy the whole can't-link-to-GPL-code argument. If AMD isn't distributing the kernel, then the kernel's license is irrelevant. The fact that AMD's code references kernel symbols doesn't make it a derivative work, unless you buy into the SCO argument that things like #defines are copyrightable. I could see the argument that after the linker resolves the symbols you end up with a derivative work in RAM (maybe), but that image isn't distri

  • by Anonymous Coward

    if they state Catalyst exposes OpenGL 4.4 instead of the 4.3 that is the reality for the rest of us. Minor nit but...

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Linux has roughly 10% of the desktop market in the United States. You'd think that this kind of story wouldn't be so uncommon. As soon as SteamOS is released M$ won't have a chance. Windows 9 will likely be the last version of Windows.

    • Linux has roughly 10% of the desktop market in the United States.

      Do you like to pull numbers from your ass?

      If Apple only has around 10% of the desktop marketshare in the USA, Linux has 0.1% at best. In some European countries such as The Netherlands, however, I'm pretty sure Apple's marketshare is much lower and Linux is much higher.

    • SteamOS handles MS games by streaming them from another machine running Windows...

  • It doesn't sound all that different. Everyone wanting to stay proprietary has a separate firmware to load by the module; but, the proprietary module has a few more whistles than the one from the community. Is this not the same thing?

    • by raxx7 ( 205260 ) on Saturday March 22, 2014 @06:34PM (#46554173) Homepage

      Not sure what you're thinking..

      A Linux graphics card driver has 3 components: the kernel module, the X module and the libGL/CL/etc implementation.
      There are two AMD driver for Linux -- the proprietary one and the open source one, each with it's own 3 components.

      The proprietary one offers better OpenGL/OpenCL performance and features (eg, OpenGL 4.4 instead of 3.1), as well as official certification for a number of applications.
      But it also tends to suffer from system integration issues, at the kernel and X level. Sometimes, they work poorly for basic things, they don't work with the latest kernel or X for a while, etc.

      So, what looks here is that AMD wants to reduce the proprietary to the libGL/CL component and leverage on the open source for the kernel driver. Maybe X driver too, eventually.

  • Phoronix... sigh. (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    As I've been Linux user for a while now, and am well aware of the articles that Phoronix put out on their god-awful website, is there a particular reason that AMD and other companies seem to cater to them on this front? As far as I can tell, they don't do much that's special other than being an announcement portal of sorts. If their claim to fame is just the latest 'bleeding edge' of graphics support for games on the Linux desktop and slapping it up on an advertised site, I guess I get it. If they're target

  • Is VIA still in the race, at all? Last VIA I heard about was the C7, so it's been a hwile.

  • ...I would put a lot more trust in this development. Things like hangs and inability to standby (5+ year old problem) or more recently brightness control that worked until approx 14 months ago and since then was never (fully) fixed [askubuntu.com] despite dozens of bug reports [cchtml.com]. I mean, this is a simple matter of comparing the code for brightness between the version 14+ months ago and the latest one to figure out what is the problem and then fixing it once and for all... Instead, they announce "fix" for it in two consecutiv
  • Intel is akin to a Toyota Camry as AMD is a Scion FR-S. On the Camry side of things, presuming the Camry has a V-6, it'll utterly smoke the FR-S, in the quarter mile and 0-60, it's much more practical, room for six and a big roomy trunk. The FR-S is less expensive but less practical, sits lower, a much smaller trunk a non-existent back seat and has proven to be much less reliable. Then again, the FR-S is a zooty two-door, rear wheel drive, and an utter hoot to drive, while the Camry is . . . a Camry.


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