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Open Radeon 3D Driver Runs At 60~70% of Proprietary Driver Speed

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the makes-me-think-about-another-desktop-box dept.

AMD 245

An anonymous reader writes "AMD's Radeon HD 6000 series open-source Gallium3D driver for Linux is now working and running at 60~70% (in some cases, 80%) of the speed of the official proprietary 'Catalyst' driver. This is a big speed improvement in Mesa/Gallium3D compared to the times when the performance was crippling or even just a few years ago when AMD didn't support open-source drivers. When will NVIDIA change ways?"

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Why change? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36773736)

Why change when their driver runs at 100% of it's speed?

Re:Why change? (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#36773776)

Given that ATI's proprietary driver also runs at 100% of its own speed, there are apparently motives that apply in spite of that...

Re:Why change? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36773806)

Given that ATI's proprietary driver also runs at 100% of its own speed, there are apparently motives that apply in spite of that...

You're completely ignoring the big fact that the Open Source Radeon driver also runs at 100% of its own speed. In fact, I'm willing to bet good money that ANY driver can run at 100% of its own speed.

Re:Why change? (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#36773856)

As best I can tell, the parent poster was replying to TFS's question of "When will Nvidia change its ways?" with "Why change when their[Nvidia's] driver runs at 100% of it's speed?".

My response was that, ATI had apparently found some reasons to change, ie. start supporting an OSS driver effort, despite the fact that their[ATI's] proprietary driver, just as with Nvidia's, had always run at 100% of its own speed.

Presumably, something other than sheer performance considerations is behind the fact that Nvidia 'supports' OSS drivers in the sense that their cards function well enough in VGA mode that you can make it to Nvidia's website to download the proprietary ones, while ATI(or AMD) seem to be making real headway in encouraging OSS drivers of real-world utility.

Re:Why change? (4, Interesting)

ifrag (984323) | more than 3 years ago | (#36774066)

I seriously doubt Nvidia is actually going to change their ways. Nvidia claims that a significant amount of their graphics technology IS the driver and that opening it up would expose too much of their IP. AMD doesn't really seem to hold this view so I'm guessing their secret sauce is more on the hardware end. In my opinion, AMD probably even has the better hardware, as seen by how it scales more linearly up to higher resolutions. Nvidia manages to come up with enough quirky driver optimization to stay competitive.

Re:Why change? (2)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 3 years ago | (#36774610)

Not only that, but I'm sure portions of nVidia's drivers also contain 3rd party IP as well. For them to open source that would be a breach of contract and would land them into legal trouble.

Re:Why change? (1)

GooberToo (74388) | more than 3 years ago | (#36774728)

Nvidia claims that a significant amount of their graphics technology IS the driver and that opening it up would expose too much of their IP

For many, many years now NVIDIA has claimed they don't own the IP to large chunks of the code in their drivers, therefore it can not legally be exposed.

The truth of the matter is, NVIDIA's drivers, more often than not, have proved to be very reliable and fast even while ATI was openly bragging non-Windows platforms is for suckers. Beyond that, 99.999999999% of the world doesn't care if the driver is proprietary or open source so long as it performs well and is bug free. NVIDIA easily qualifies. And simply put, ATI's drivers still tend to have far more bugs and compatibilities issues than does NVIDIA.

Furthermore, I've been personally bit by ATI obsoleting GPUs twice. My brother once. I've never one had that bite with NVIDIA. When I dropped ATI I've never once seen a reason to regret it. Inversely, I've constantly seen reasons over that span where I'm extremely glad I gave up on ATI's "sucker bet" a long time ago.

Re:Why change? (2)

cbiltcliffe (186293) | more than 3 years ago | (#36774098)

You're completely ignoring the big fact that the Open Source Radeon driver also runs at 100% of its own speed. In fact, I'm willing to bet good money that ANY driver can run at 100% of its own speed.

Nope. It's a proven fact that adding a HOSTS file will improve the speed of any driver to the point that it runs at 150% of the speed of itself. The fact that this will cause a rip in the space/time continuum, making the universe implode is irrelevant, because the HOSTS file also creates 100% security from thin air, so the driver will continue to exist in perpetuity.

HOSTS files FTW! Is there anything they can't do?!

Re:Why change? (2)

Ginger Unicorn (952287) | more than 3 years ago | (#36774146)

Careful, you may invoke APK

Re:Why change? (1)

cbiltcliffe (186293) | more than 3 years ago | (#36774480)

Careful, you may invoke APK

You mean foaming saliva boy? That's kinda the point. :)

Re:Why change? (1)

Abstrackt (609015) | more than 3 years ago | (#36774704)

Careful, you may invoke APK

Personally, I'd love to see some kind of APK/Dr. Bob crossover. Maybe about how maintaining a good HOSTS file prevents subluxations.

Re:Why change? (1)

pfanne (1550883) | more than 3 years ago | (#36773790)

because it sucks.

Re:Why change? (4, Informative)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 3 years ago | (#36773798)

Many reasons..
The binary driver cannot be redistributed with the linux distros..
The binary driver may drop support for older hardware at any point, and the older versions which still support your hardware are unlikely support current kernels or X11 versions.
You cannot fix a binary blob driver yourself, you are beholden to the vendor to do so.
Also that "100%" is relative to the binary driver itself, its possible that given time the open driver will surpass it.

Out of interest, does the open driver support OpenCL yet?

Re:Why change? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36773914)

Proprietary driver cannot do KMS - which means only 80x24 TTYs on my 1920x1200 screen unless I want to start X. That sucks. If nouveau would get me just a few more FPS I could switch over completely.

Re:Why change? (1)

wagnerrp (1305589) | more than 3 years ago | (#36774060)

You can do framebuffer output with the proprietary drivers installed just fine. The issue with lack of KMS support is there's always a bit of graphical glitching as you transition between the framebuffer, and the rendered X display. KMS gives you a smooth transition from one to the other.

If you're going to forgo a significant amount of graphical performance just to remove some superficial glitching that you only ever see on boot, then you are a vain anonymous coward.

Re:Why change? (3, Informative)

sarhjinian (94086) | more than 3 years ago | (#36774116)

You can pass a vga= argument to the kernel on boot to allow modes other than 80x24. See this table [wikipedia.org] for possibly modes.

Re:Why change? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36773938)

No not yet openGL is the current priority, there has been a start made but it seems thy want to get the drivers working for graphics first. on the other hand they have just reached openGL 3 my understanding is that priorities are going to start to shift now, video decode acceleration is currently being worked on so I guess thy may start work soon.

Re:Why change? (1)

ChaoticCoyote (195677) | more than 3 years ago | (#36775116)

The binary driver cannot be redistributed with the linux distros..

I've never had a problem with this. I always go to nVidia's or AMD's web site for my video drivers (on Windows). And some Linux distros DO provide binary drivers. I'll take a high-performance proprietary driver any day over a "free" but ineffective alternative. That said, I did pick one of my recent machines because it had a driver supported intrinsically by XOrg. Choice is good.

The binary driver may drop support for older hardware at any point, and the older versions which still support your hardware are unlikely support current kernels or X11 versions.

The only real argument you have, and a very good one at that.

You cannot fix a binary blob driver yourself, you are beholden to the vendor to do so.

Oh please. I doubt even 99% of Slashdot readers could fix a bug in a video driver -- particularly one for complex and high-performance hardware like nVidia and AMD video cards. Let's just put this old lie to rest, shall we? I have real work to do; I don't have time to be futzing about in some hardware driver for free, just for "free" software people can feel sanctimonious.

Also that "100%" is relative to the binary driver itself, its possible that given time the open driver will surpass it.

Possible, yes. Likely, no.

Re:Why change? (2)

houstonbofh (602064) | more than 3 years ago | (#36775258)

Many reasons..

The binary driver cannot be redistributed with the linux distros..

Gimp doesn't distribute with the most popular Linux distro. Not all of it is license. Some of it is choice, and the fact that CDs are only so big. And this fix is quite simple if it can boot to VGA, which nvidia can. ATI could not for a long time...

The binary driver may drop support for older hardware at any point, and the older versions which still support your hardware are unlikely support current kernels or X11 versions.

You can still run a GForce2 on 11.04, so I do not see this as a problem, but a "potential" problem. Some people call that FUD.

You cannot fix a binary blob driver yourself, you are beholden to the vendor to do so.

Most users can not fix ANY driver themselves. And open source projects have lost interest and dropped support too... Admittedly, it is a strike against... Even a big strike, since no one can peer review the code. But it is far from a deal breaker.

Also that "100%" is relative to the binary driver itself, its possible that given time the open driver will surpass it.

Out of interest, does the open driver support OpenCL yet?

True, competition is good.


But what ticks me off is how fickle people are. Don't get me wrong; I am a big FOSS supporter, and involved in several FOSS projects. But I am not a purist... Nvidia was first to the party. When NO ONE was supporting Linux, they had a solid driver, with real support. It was even current! Now we have this new player at the party who ignored FOSS for almost all of it's history. Yes, they have a slightly more open license. They also have less people working on making a solid driver... But the fickle fanbois are ready to dump the one that has stood by Linux longer than almost anyone... Not me. I remember the heroes and villains longer than a year.

Oh, and Nvidia works better...

Re:Why change? (4, Insightful)

ThePhilips (752041) | more than 3 years ago | (#36773874)

Because proprietary drivers traditionally have minor bugs and annoyances which are getting fixed like never. Not everybody is craving for the top fps on the new games - many want speedy 2D and video without glitches. I'm not sure that OSS drivers would be better in the respect, yet IMO chances are better with two alternative drivers available.

Also, OSS drivers for both nVidia and ATI would likely exchange patches or probably reuse many common features, making them more compatible to each other, thus reducing number of surprises when something works on ATI driver but not on nVidia's.

Re:Why change? (3, Informative)

sarhjinian (94086) | more than 3 years ago | (#36774190)

Interestingly, nVidia is actually pretty good at fixing bugs.

GNOME3 had a nasty corrupt-on-resume problem with the nVidia driver, and since a) laptops are slept and resumed often, b) nouveau has no power management to speak of, which is kinda important in a laptop, and c) the GNOME devs had no intention of fixing the problem anytime soon, it was nice that d) nVidia fixed it in a month. They're pretty good with other bugs, too.

The nice thing is that, with GNOME3 and nVidia, I have the first instance of tear-free video playback on a Linux desktopin, wel, ever*.

I don't know it AMD/ATI better now, but Catalyst used to be brutal for bug fixes. I think they're better. I also don't mean to impugn Nouveau as they've done great work with what they've had, but I do value battery life and not cooking my thighs.

* without turning off compositing and partying like it's 1999.

Re:Why change? (1, Funny)

Thomas Charron (1485) | more than 3 years ago | (#36774588)

Except.. These drivers have been around for years, and don't. So you wait for what, 3 years to get a driver that performs just over half as good.

Hey, here's a bug report..

"The driver seems to limit my hardwares performance to only 60% of what it was..."

I'll tell you why. (1)

VAElynx (2001046) | more than 3 years ago | (#36774036)

ATI proprietary driver for linux, at least the Radeon 5x mobile whatever that is in laptops is utter FAIL.

Yeah, it has nice fast performance of glxgears, but that's about it. All the games i have played with an NVIDIA card under WINE, like World of Tanks, and Starcraft II... they become either unplayable due to texture corruption, or outright crash when executing.
The second it was a hell to install simply due to failure to render the fancy installation graphics.
Well, that'd have been somewhat bearable, only non-native apps... but , MapTool , the program i use for DnD sessions... nothing fancy , just a map with a bunch of simple .png objects, a chat window that can roll dice... with the ATI Catalyst driver , once the map got bigger, it didn't bother to redraw screen in places, leading to new messages in chat being hard to notice without constantly messing with the window and corruption of graphics elsewhere...

The opensource one for this series was slow as hell, (tenth of performance) and somewhat buggy too, but at least the above program worked.

Re:Why change? (2)

marcosdumay (620877) | more than 3 years ago | (#36774470)

Because proprietary drivers will taint the kernel, and you may lose support because of that. Because one can't fix bugs in a proprietary driver, and no company will fix them fast enough or on old drivers. Because you want to add something to it. Because you want the driver that was compiled toghether with Xorg and your kernel, so anything wrong appears before distribution. Because you want the driver that (again) was compiled toghether with Xorg and the kernel, so that you'll be sure there will be no delay between the compilations and your driver will be fit to the version of the kernel and Xorg you are using.

Well, I've never had any reason out of the above. Other people experience may vary.

So... (0, Troll)

giuseppemag (1100721) | more than 3 years ago | (#36773808)

...it's only advantage is being Open?

I can see how many people may not see a great cost/benefits ratio there...

Re:So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36773890)

that and when I use the proprietary driver my screen flickers.

Re:So... (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#36774316)

Funny, when I use the free drivers my screen flickers.

Re:So... (1)

TeknoHog (164938) | more than 3 years ago | (#36773902)

I use Linux on a Powerbook with Radeon graphics. For some odd reason, AMD does not provide binary drivers for this platform, but the open driver works great.

On my other machines with x86-64, I use the binary Radeon drivers as it is the only way to get full OpenCL. Even there, it sometimes happens that I need to use an older kernel or disable some kernel features, as the binary driver does not play well with the pace of Linux development.

Re:So... (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#36774000)

Meanwhile I have a Gateway subnotebook with AMD processor and graphics (Athlon 64 L110, R690M with X12xx graphics) and it only runs Vista. On Windows 7 resume doesn't work. On Linux I get complete graphics corruption even with RenderAccel disabled. So for some of us, neither fglrx nor ati works. Which is why some of us have finally learned our lesson, and will never buy anything more complex than a cellphone with ATI graphics again.

Re:So... (1)

AndrewNeo (979708) | more than 3 years ago | (#36774396)

I wouldn't say that's fair, the Xbox 360's graphics work fine! (Which cellphones are starting to come towards in graphics complexity..)

Re:So... (1)

RMingin (985478) | more than 3 years ago | (#36774688)

Not fair. RS690M's graphics may be garbage, but a laptop is a small sealed box full of discrete components, any of which could be causing the problem. In fact, the sleep/resume issue and graphics corruption, combined, look like a bad BIOS, which would agree with Gateway being a cheap/lousy OEM.

Re:So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36774732)

How long ago did you try? The driver support improves literally month by month.

(I'm not saying it definitely work, just that if you tried like a year ago, maybe it would be good to give it another shot, if you want.)

Re:So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36774028)

Because PPC linux isn't a high-demand platform for ATI graphics drivers?

Re:So... (4, Insightful)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 3 years ago | (#36774280)

And yet the open driver supports them anyway.
The more widespread open source becomes, the more practical alternative architectures become.

Re:So... (2)

Thomas Charron (1485) | more than 3 years ago | (#36774614)

4 years after they stop making the hardware, they finally mature enough to be relevant.

Re:So... (1)

oneandoneis2 (777721) | more than 3 years ago | (#36773966)

I'd use it.

The single biggest source of problems I've had with Linux over the years has been hardware without open-source drivers. I'd go so far as to say it's the only source of unsolvable problems I've had with Linux.

If you're not a serious gamer, you don't need a card to work at 100% of its potential - 99% of the time all I need mine to do is use about 1% of its power to render a desktop. If the driver's reliable and open-source, why would I care that a different driver would give me a slightly-better FPS on the very rare occasions that it's working flat-out?

Re:So... (1)

Ltap (1572175) | more than 3 years ago | (#36774086)

The advantages are more nuanced than people think. Sure, the proprietary drivers have better raw performance, but the FOSS drivers are (as you said) much more stable because they're generally updated in step with kernel and Xorg updates, which means that their compatibility is much better. Both the nvidia and catalyst drivers, on the other hand, tend to get updated more infrequently and more in a pattern of being fixed when obvious bugs crop up, not being updated to avoid bugs even existing.

Pretty much the only worthwhile argument you can make for using the proprietary drivers is if you commonly use a feature that the FOSS drivers don't support for your card version yet, which can be common with newer cards.

Re:So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36774118)

Pretty much the only worthwhile argument you can make for using the proprietary drivers is if you commonly use a feature that the FOSS drivers don't support for your card version yet, which can be common with newer cards.

I wonder if OpenGL 3.0 is still one of those. I'm not going to touch 2.0 with a ten feet pole unless I'm being paid for it.

Re:So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36775026)

OpenGL 3.0 is *just* done, you will need to use some ppa (on Ubuntu ) or git or similar elsewhere, but, it is done. Probably best to weight for the next stable version of messa though .

Re:So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36773990)

and KMS support, kernel modules living in the kernel tree (no more waiting 2/3 release cycles until the newest kernel is supported - same thing with xorg-server support), faster 2D acceleration, and some other things I'm sure I forgot to mention.

Re:So... (5, Insightful)

GreatBunzinni (642500) | more than 3 years ago | (#36774024)

...it's only advantage is being Open?

I can see how many people may not see a great cost/benefits ratio there...

Being open means that these drivers won't simply go away once the product line is deprecated in favour of the newest and coolest graphics card, and that it will be able to receive improvements and bug fixes essentially until the last working piece of hardware dies off. Being open also means that it will be able to provide support for this Radeon graphics cards in other platforms besides the officially sanctioned ones, such as Windows and Linux. Being open also provides a way to provide competition for the people AMD employs to develop their official graphics card drivers, because if an open driver developed by amateurs on their spare time happens to be nearly as good or even better then they may as well be out of a job, and they can't have that. Being open also means that, if the open drivers mature enough so that they are comparable to AMD's official offering, then it will be in AMD's best interests to get directly involved in the development of these open drivers and even abandon their proprietary offering in favour of this project.

And, obviously, if these open drivers represent a business success story to AMD then you can bet that this will spread out to other companies, and everyone who used windows and had to deal with hardware with support problems certainly knows what a PitA it is to be tied to proprietary drivers which are crap.

Re:So... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36774180)

...it's only advantage is being Open?

I can see how many people may not see a great cost/benefits ratio there...

Being open means that these drivers won't simply go away once the product line is deprecated in favour of the newest and coolest graphics card, and that it will be able to receive improvements and bug fixes essentially until the last working piece of hardware dies off.

What it actually means is that bug fixes and improvements will be possible as long as someone is willing to work on them. Even if the hardware is around, just like AMD, someone has to be willing to do the coding

Re:So... (1)

GreatBunzinni (642500) | more than 3 years ago | (#36774450)

What it actually means is that bug fixes and improvements will be possible as long as someone is willing to work on them. Even if the hardware is around, just like AMD, someone has to be willing to do the coding

If you take a look at the xorg's mailing list you will find out that drivers for ancient relatively rare graphics cards such as the Matrox 400 line are still being developed and maintained. So, I don't believe that no one will be interested in getting involved in this sort of project.

Re:So... (0)

lkcl (517947) | more than 3 years ago | (#36774498)

being open means that if this can be made to work on a SoC (for example, if enough information is obtained to get it to work on an iMX535, which has an AMD / ATI embedded GPU) then that SoC will be literally the world's first truly free software compliant and importantly *modern* embedded processor that is free from proprietary and total dependence on some random, implicitly untrustworthy and usually incompetent software supplier.

Re:So... (1, Insightful)

Thomas Charron (1485) | more than 3 years ago | (#36774638)

...it's only advantage is being Open?

I can see how many people may not see a great cost/benefits ratio there...

Being open means that these drivers won't simply go away once the product line is deprecated in favour of the newest and coolest graphics card, and that it will be able to receive improvements and bug fixes essentially until the last working piece of hardware dies off.

Wewt! I can get speed improvements! Now, at their current rate or increase, it will only take 5 years for the driver to be able to perform at the same level as the proprietary driver.

Being open also means that it will be able to provide support for this Radeon graphics cards in other platforms besides the officially sanctioned ones, such as Windows and Linux. Being open also provides a way to provide competition for the people AMD employs to develop their official graphics card drivers, because if an open driver developed by amateurs on their spare time happens to be nearly as good or even better then they may as well be out of a job, and they can't have that.

If, by 'competition' you mean something which performs sub par to your own drivers, I guess there's a point there somewhere.

Being open also means that, if the open drivers mature enough so that they are comparable to AMD's official offering, then it will be in AMD's best interests to get directly involved in the development of these open drivers and even abandon their proprietary offering in favour of this project. And, obviously, if these open drivers represent a business success story to AMD then you can bet that this will spread out to other companies, and everyone who used windows and had to deal with hardware with support problems certainly knows what a PitA it is to be tied to proprietary drivers which are crap.

So, a product which is developed for years and has only recently achieved 60% of what the commercial driver can do *isnt* crap.

Re:So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36775280)

I'd say "won't disappear overnight" is the crucial bit here, the rest is just icing on the cake. I have hardware whose manufacturer does not provide drivers, except for the CD that comes with the HW (quote: "There is no updated driver available. Please use the driver shipped with your Bluetooth Adapter.
Note: You can contact us if you have lost your driver CD."). Guess what the vendor says when you try to get the driver because the CD is scratched? "Go **** yourself, we don't believe you, we don't provide drivers to evil haxxorz, and you are an evil haxxor because you don't have the CD; go buy the damn hardware again."

Re:So... (2)

elashish14 (1302231) | more than 3 years ago | (#36774912)

Being open also provides a way to provide competition for the people AMD employs to develop their official graphics card drivers, because if an open driver developed by amateurs on their spare time happens to be nearly as good or even better then they may as well be out of a job, and they can't have that. Being open also means that, if the open drivers mature enough so that they are comparable to AMD's official offering, then it will be in AMD's best interests to get directly involved in the development of these open drivers and even abandon their proprietary offering in favour of this project.

TFA clearly states that the majority of the code was released by AMD devs and that they have recently expanded their open source driver team by adding two new members. Are you suggesting that this was all work done by the community? This is definitely not the case. Also, I would imagine that the Gallium3D driver is Linux-only and wouldn't be portable to other platforms, so they would still need the proprietary drivers for Windows.

When you think about it, if support gets better, then Linux could actually have even better AMD graphics support than Windows if Linux has the open option and Windows is stuck with Catalyst.

Re:So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36775042)

AMD is already directly involved in their development. They already had one person whose job was solely to work on the open source driver and they recently hired 2 more people to work on it.

Re:So... (2)

Nomaxxx (1136289) | more than 3 years ago | (#36774112)

...it's only advantage is being Open?

I can see how many people may not see a great cost/benefits ratio there...

The main advantage of being open is long term support. Graphics card drivers are quickly abandoned by AMD once they are a few years old. So their newer drivers don't support old cards, and older proprietary drivers don't support new kernels. So your only solution when using an old card (pre HD series) with a new operating system is to use the open source driver. The problem is not limited to Linux. On Windows, AMD issues "legacy" drivers for older cards but they are not thoroughly tested. So while they fix compatibility with some software, they break it with others that were working great with the old drivers... Worse, there's no support for them. On my Linux distro, while using open source Radeon drivers, performance keeps improving with each new version.

Re:So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36774182)

Yes, open drivers are great. :-) They are easier to integrate into distros like Debian and I hated it when I had to keep track of an nvidia blob remotely at my parents... :-S

And, BTW, even 80% of guessed 50 fps is 40fps, so plenty playable :-)

Integration (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36774494)

Open source is more than just a development model. Open source means that a program integrates cleanly and correctly with my linux system. Everything from packaging, to installation, to file placement, startup -- open source software follows the rules on open source operating systems.

Proprietary software on an open source operating system is ugly. It blatantly disregards the rules regarding file placement, installation, and just about everything else. It's a situation where the nightmare of windows third-party software comes to linux, where every single program does things differently in order to stand out for marketing purposes, or DRM purposes, or just plain arbitrary convention. Here we have a perfectly uniform system, every package correctly installed and in its place, able to uninstall any package clean and trust that every last file was removed, the beauty of the linux filesystem standard intact. And then comes the black sheep, the proprietary video driver, installing itself to the root directory, using filenames with spaces and caps, demanding special exceptions to proven security standards, a custom hack of an install script that pukes all over the filesystem -- you get the picture.

That's why I use the open source driver. I don't need blistering 3D acceleration, so why wouldn't I free myself from the proprietary ball and chain for the benefit of a clean system?

How many FPS do you get with an abandoned (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36774510)

How many FPS do you get with an abandoned propriatory driver? I.e. how many FPS are you getting with your ATI Radeon from 2001 on your Windows 7 box?

Nil.

Same for Linux and the latest stable/packaged 2.6 kernel for the propriatory driver.

But the open driver gets infinitely times as many FPS on the same hardware and OS combination.

Because there IS a driver.

Re:So... (1)

Barefoot Monkey (1657313) | more than 3 years ago | (#36774784)

The headline is very misleading. The big news here is that there is a Gallium3D back-end that gives tolerable performance for modern AMD cards. Gallium3D is a still-immature hardware abstraction architecture which could do amazing things for the industry if it manages to get over its chicken-and-egg problem.

Re:So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36774988)

Being open-source isn't necessarily an advantage (unless you're one of those stupid anti-corporate hippies who masturbates to the image of Richard Stallman and sees anything non-free, closed-source or commercial as a product of fascism), but in this case, given the nature of the official drivers (low reliability, crappy compatibility with kernels and certain userspace components that aren't a year out of date, lack of support for anything older than R600, terrible lead time for bug fixes, no support for things like KMS last time I checked), it actually brings several advantages, albeit only due to the fact that the official drivers suck in pretty much every way except for performance.

Re:So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36775230)

Besides the developers being easy to work with, it continuing to support old hardware, and coming with Linux out of the box, a huge technical plus is that it follows the evolving Linux display work (kms, ttm/gem, sys info exporting, and so on).

Proprietary drivers always seem to insist on doing things their own way. Having to pass the kernel inclusion bar is ultimately good for everyone.

Re:So... (1)

Daniel Phillips (238627) | more than 3 years ago | (#36775240)

...it's only advantage is being Open?

I can see how many people may not see a great cost/benefits ratio there...

Nice troll. You could also say "the only advantage of living in a democracy is being free".

Re:So... (1)

noname444 (1182107) | more than 3 years ago | (#36775374)

My experience with closed source linux drivers is that they're usually very poorly integrated with the rest of the system. The companies usually like to solve everything their own way (tm), rather than using the frameworks all the open drivers use.

When AMD dropped their support in fglrx for my radeon x1300-based GPU in my laptop (yes, they drop support for hardware whenever they feel like it) I had to start using the radeon driver on my ubuntu-machine. Everything has worked much better in the system since the switch. Suddenly I don't get some special AMD catalyst control center-thingie to change resolutions and set up external monitors etc. Instead the normal standardized gnome settings work like a charm. Also the system sets the correct resolution for my screen once, right after the kernel has been loaded (ie. before gdm/X).

If the radeon driver from TFA gets included in ubuntu 11.10 I would definitely give it a shot for my desktop machine, which has a Radeon HD 6870 card. The fglrx support for this card is just terrible. Sure, performance wise the OpenGL works well in games, but the normal X11 2D acceleration is terrible. Here are some annoyances with it:

    * Whenever gksudo is activated it throws random garbage on all my monitors for about a second before displaying the password dialog
    * Random "holes" in windows at random times, ie. squares where the desktop background suddenly becomes visible instead of the window contents. This won't go away until the window is redrawn.
    * OpenGL and XV surfaces are always on top. So if I watch a video and put some window on top of the video surface, the video will be in front of the window regardless of Z-order.

If I could get a driver that plays nice with the rest of the OS, gets regular updates with the rest of the system, and doesn't have weird bugs in its 2D rendering I would gladly sacrifice 50% OpenGL performance. It's not like I utilize the GPU that much anyway.

Re:So... (1)

giuseppemag (1100721) | more than 3 years ago | (#36775432)

Ok, I get it now.

Thanks for the explanation.

A Grain of Salt (3, Insightful)

Ltap (1572175) | more than 3 years ago | (#36773832)

Remember, it's Phoronix.

Re:A Grain of Salt (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36773896)

Indeed, though Phoronix does frequently do reasonably useful benchmarks of the various 3D drivers, so I'll take this with a slightly smaller amount of salt than say their repeated claims that Steam is going Linux.

Great! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36773852)

That's just great! I have 3 PCs, 2 of them with Radeon and it was like having a 15-year-old graphics cards because of the slow open source drivers for gnu/linux. Things are gonna change now. ;)

Same ol' adage (0)

TooMad (967091) | more than 3 years ago | (#36773918)

You get what you pay for.

Re:Same ol' adage (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36773970)

Uh the proprietary drivers are still free.

Re:Same ol' adage (2)

Bengie (1121981) | more than 3 years ago | (#36774336)

Don't burst his bubble, that's not nice.

Re:Same ol' adage (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36774346)

Not really. These are included in the price when you buy a card. Of course, that's means when the hardware gets old (let's say 2-3 years) the support is dropped or put on "legacy mode" (read "We care only when we have some free time") or fully dropped. On the Linux world, that's mean your hardware is useless in 2-3 years if they don't have open source drivers. Half working?, yeah, sure. But the difference between "half working" and "not working" is big. And you need to pay a visit to nvnews or rage3d to view that propietary drivers tend to produce some nasty surprises quite frecuently. Open source drivers not so frecuently.

In the end. All reduces to bussiness practices.

Re:Same ol' adage (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36774368)

And still fucking crap.

Re:Same ol' adage (1)

marcosdumay (620877) | more than 3 years ago | (#36774546)

Somehow, that adage almost never works well at the real world.

Did you get some Greece bounds a couple of years ago?

There really is no substitute for proprietary... (4, Informative)

bmo (77928) | more than 3 years ago | (#36773932)

I have CAD at home on Linux (Draftsight for 2D and Varicad (It's Linux native!!) for 3D), and there's no substitute for the Catalyst driver. The free drivers don't cut it. They may cut it for generic desktop stuff like playing video and spinning desktop cubes, but somehow combining the free driver and any CAD package gets you a very slow experience.

Until performance really does reach 80 percent, I'm gonna have to stick with the proprietary one. And since this is only for the 6000 series and not the 4000 series (my card), I'm just gonna have to forget about it until I get new hardware.

Hands up if you've ever had to call the ATI BBS in Peterborough, ON back in the day to get the driver of the week for Mach32 on any system.

By the way, if you want free 2D Cad for Linux, get your ass over to Dassault Systems and download Draftsight.

--
BMO

Re:There really is no substitute for proprietary.. (1)

arisvega (1414195) | more than 3 years ago | (#36774100)

somehow combining the free driver and any CAD package gets you a very slow experience

Not quite true for me: Maya and Blender work fine. In fact, Maya is noticeably faster that it is on Windows 7 on the same machine, and I have taken no special steps to make it faster on Linux. I am using the laziest Linux distribution there is (Wubi Ubuntu, click click click until you have a working OS)

Minecraft is faster and more solid too (not exactly a CAD, but it uses GPUs if I am not mistaken)

Re:There really is no substitute for proprietary.. (1)

bmo (77928) | more than 3 years ago | (#36774214)

Maya and Blender both are not CAD.

And Minecraft certainly isn't.

There's something about CAD that drives the free drivers over the edge.

Like I said, in some situations, the free driver is certainly enough.

I consider the driver as part of the card. I can't modify the card itself, and it doesn't bother me that I can't go mess around in the proprietary driver changing things around. In an ideal world, self help for fixing proprietary drivers would happen, but both ATI and Nvidia think that keeping features locked away is a competitive advantage because it keeps "the other guy" from copying hardware or such.

--
BMO

Re:There really is no substitute for proprietary.. (1)

arisvega (1414195) | more than 3 years ago | (#36774294)

Maya and Blender both are not CAD

CAD = Computer Aided Design, right? Am I missing something here?

keeping features locked away is a competitive advantage because it keeps "the other guy" from copying hardware or such.

I could not agree more (see my post further below)

Re:There really is no substitute for proprietary.. (1)

bmo (77928) | more than 3 years ago | (#36774448)

>CAD = Computer Aided Design, right? Am I missing something here?

Yes.

--
BMO

Re:There really is no substitute for proprietary.. (1)

inasity_rules (1110095) | more than 3 years ago | (#36774680)

While you are correct, you are not informative... Chill dude, stop being elitist and give the guy a break, he doesn't know.

For the GP: Basically CAD is used for design that will generally end up in a real world object. You can design for example a fancy box or even a desk/chair/house/skyscraper and then from your printouts (including the precise measurements) make the real thing. While you could do this in Blender, it is the wrong tool for the job. They're designed for modeling the real world not making something from scratch. Basically in Blender, you want something that looks like the real thing. In CAD, you want something that will help you build the real thing. They don't allow (easily anyway) the sort of precise pedantic precision you need for CAD. I have used both and I do know the difference, even if it is a little subtle. Never used maya, but I doubt it counts as CAD.

Re:There really is no substitute for proprietary.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36775032)

Maya and Blender are both focused on artwork.

CAD programs are focused on design for manufacturing.

That means CAD stuff is frequently working on B-reps instead of polygon meshes, 2D elements such as lines and points are much more common, everything is in an orthogonal projection rather than a perspective, and everything will be heavy on geometry with very little texturing.

If the folks working on the drivers are focused more on artwork and/or games, it's not surprising that the type of rendering CAD does would go quite a bit slower.

Re:There really is no substitute for proprietary.. (1)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 3 years ago | (#36775300)

Yes, you really are I'm afraid.

You just said the equivalent of "Powerpoint is good enough for DTP right, so why worry about slowness in InDesign?"

Although that's not fair, actually, since Blender and Maya are actually pretty powerful in their own forte, but they're simply not CAD.

Re:There really is no substitute for proprietary.. (1)

Kamiza Ikioi (893310) | more than 3 years ago | (#36775038)

As long as they PROVIDE the driver, I don't care either. The whole free driver thing started because they didn't provide, and we didn't have a choice. Either you hacked a driver together, or you were SOL.

Today, companies do much better.

Re:There really is no substitute for proprietary.. (1)

Thomas Charron (1485) | more than 3 years ago | (#36774668)

You *really* didnt just make a comparison between CAD software..

    And Mindcraft.......

Re:There really is no substitute for proprietary.. (1)

bosah (2117736) | more than 3 years ago | (#36775010)

This is probably a lot more to do with the fact that Maya performs faster on Linux, than it being a noticeable performance improvement related to the graphics driver. Its not the only app where this is the case, Houdini is also a tad faster on Linux than it is on windows. Linux is.. well... faster on the whole isn't it ? This may also probably the case for minecraft too. Also, I don't think Maya officially supports ATi cards, just saying that cos YMMV depending on the generation of ATi card too. Basically, there are too many vagaries to make anything approaching a meaningful comparison here. The only thing to do would be to run graphics based benchmarks on both platforms, assuming that the benchmarks are coded in the same way too of course. But they've already done that, hence the % figures in this articles title. As for the argument that CAD applications give the graphics cards more work, I really don't see how thats the case, a 3D viewport is just a 3D viewport after all. However, yeah, the processing in the backend to maintain the surfaces accuracy (is the term Type A surfaces ?), yep, thats a lot more hardcore than it is for 3D animation/modelling/rendering applications. But, and I'm interested to know if this if its wrong and someonecan explain it to me, drawing the 3D representation on screen isn't any much more of an effort for a CAD app than it is for something like Maya.

Re:There really is no substitute for proprietary.. (1)

ianare (1132971) | more than 3 years ago | (#36774170)

You're right, the current open drivers do not cut it, by far. But the ones mentioned in the article are not included yet in any major distro, do look for them in the next Ubuntu. As for your 4000 series card, it's probably time to upgrade to 6000 ... I just did for playing wine games and the difference between the two is pretty incredible.

For games, I will stick with the closed driver until the open one is just as good or better. AMD has promised to make the open driver have the same development cycle as the closed one for the 8000 series cards. Since they promised some years back to help the OSS guys build a driver, and have delivered on that promise, I'm optimistic this will happen.

At that point we should see the performance of the open driver be just as good as the closed one, with the advantage of more testing : better stability and security. It could even surpass the performance of the closed driver.

Good move on AMD's part, and I will be continuing to support their video hardware. Now if only they would release a CPU I actually want ...

Who cares - Troll mod (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36773936)

It's not like you're going to be doing alot of gameing on those machines. So honestly. who gives a shit if it's not at 100% of its speed...

Oh right. delusional geeks. carry on.

Re:Who cares - Troll mod (1)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 3 years ago | (#36775344)

Because 3D horsepower is only used for games, right?

Don't you have homework to do before you're allowed computer time?

So long nvidia... (1)

Chryana (708485) | more than 3 years ago | (#36773946)

The nvidia-glx package has been broken for a week or two in Debian wheezy, and the nouveau driver makes my GPU fan spin as if I was trying to calculate a trillion decimals for pi. Result: I am booting Windows XP right now. Guess who's going to be buying ATI next time he replaces his computer?

Re:So long nvidia... (1)

Chryana (708485) | more than 3 years ago | (#36774008)

Replying to myself... I should have read the article first. Power management is still not too good. Geez, I don't play Crysis on Linux, I don't mind too much if the video acceleration is not on par with the proprietary driver, but I can't stand my video card SCREAMING AT ME ALL DAY LONG. Oh well, I guess I'll have to stick to the proprietary drivers for now.

Re:So long nvidia... (1)

Ogi_UnixNut (916982) | more than 3 years ago | (#36774216)

What issue you having with nvidia? I have been using Nvidia for years (primarily due getting into CUDA v.early) and I've not seen any power management problems, or fan issues actually. My fan's generally are quite quiet (I can override this though if I want). If you want to try overriding the fan control then have a look at the "nvclock" program. It can also do over/underclocking if that's your thing.

Re:So long nvidia... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36774046)

some idiot apparently

Re:So long nvidia... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36774178)

The nvidia-glx package has been broken for a week or two in Debian wheezy, and the nouveau driver makes my GPU fan spin as if I was trying to calculate a trillion decimals for pi.

I noticed that too, but figured it wasn't worth it to file a bug report. I just uninstalled those packages, and jumped back to my old system of, Nvidia-binary, plus dpkg-divert to handle conflicts for the time being.

Re:So long nvidia... (1)

wagnerrp (1305589) | more than 3 years ago | (#36774194)

Considering the nVidia drivers and OpenGL libraries are shipped as one piece, the fact that you specifically mention 'nvidia-glx' sounds like it's some thing broken apart by the Debian wheezy package managers. I would bet they are at fault for any issues you may be having, not nVidia.

Regardless of any argument performance-wise, nVidia has been releasing reliable Linux drivers for the better part of a decade. Their OpenGL implementations work, they're standard, and they're not full of bugs. They're video playback acceleration is functional and well supported, as opposed to years of unfulfilled claims by ATI. ATI/AMD has been getting progressively better since their acquisition, but they just don't have the track record. As a MythTV developer, we can only in good conscience recommend nVidia, because for 99% of our user base, they just work. Meanwhile, our IRC channel, mailing list, and bug tracker fills up with reports of strange behavior on ATI hardware.

Re:So long nvidia... (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#36774432)

Debian's nvidia driver has always been an iffy proposition. Try removing all the nvidia packages and install with nvidia's installer.

Re:So long nvidia... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36774618)

In addition, try installing the CUDA driver. It seems a bit more stable.

Re:So long nvidia... (1)

marcosdumay (620877) | more than 3 years ago | (#36774660)

That's a problem on Debian, not your video card... As anoying as it is, I'd have to say, works well on stable. But I bet you had other problems on Debian hurting you because of that card, I've had plenty of bad experiences running proprietary video drivers. It is hard for any distro to keep proprietary software in a good condition.

Anyway, I've already taken that route, and the last GPU I brought was an ATI. The free driver isn't as fast as the other computer that has an nvidia with the proprietary driver (altought the GPUs are comparable), but let me tell you, it is well worth it.

Re:So long nvidia... (1)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 3 years ago | (#36775354)

Pi is exactly 3.

Re:So long nvidia... (1)

suy (1908306) | more than 3 years ago | (#36775466)

The nVidia packaging was broken in Sid for one day or two because they added the multiarch support IIRC. I rolled back to the version of the previous day using the way back machine [debian.org] (or your package from /var/cache/apt/archives). That's the usual bread and butter for someone who wants to use Sid (is called Debian unstable for a reason).

And nVidia is working perfectly right now. I've been playing Open Arena as always just minutes ago. And the nVidia packaging is pretty damn good. The nvidia-dkms works like a charm, even if you upgrade the kernel. Of course I would still prefer open source drivers, since that would mean even less pain, and everything would be integrated. I'm pretty sure that my next graphics card will have open source drivers.

When will NVIDIA change ways? (1)

arisvega (1414195) | more than 3 years ago | (#36774030)

Dammit I do not know - but it is not going to be soon; how could they opensource it and prevent disclosing secrets to their competitors at the same time?

Re:When will NVIDIA change ways? (1)

gmack (197796) | more than 3 years ago | (#36774148)

Knowing NVIDIA it will be the same as it was for their chipset drivers so not before the FOSS drivers are nearly on par with the proprietary ones and they suddenly realize it's less work to fix the open driver rather than keep working on the proprietary.

FPS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36774150)

I'm sure there are still plenty of problems but the charts show FPS in excess of 50... even going much higher. Erm...eyes can detect something like 20FPS right? But we really need more to get the smooth experience? But shouldn't this be already "good enough" to use then?

Game support (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36774154)

Give 60~70% of all games released over the past 8 years native Linux support and maybe, MAYBE some of us will give a damn.

I'd Rather (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36774646)

When will NVIDIA change ways?

The NVIDIA closed source drivers are miles ahead of ATI's closed source drivers as well as the open source drivers. NVIDIA cards are capable of decoding HD content in Linux while my four year old ATI card still only gets about 3 seconds per frame for 720p files with either driver. Also, the open and closed ATI drivers are buggy as hell, especially when running dual monitors. I bought an ATI card over NVIDIA because ATI released the documentation for their hardware, but unless there is significant progress on the open source drivers in the near future (especially in video decoding), then my next card will be NVIDIA.

Poor benchmark software (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36774858)

Most of the programs being used for that benchmark are hopelessly out-of-date and probably don't make good use of the video hardware.

Testing a game engine from 10 years ago, even if someone hacked in some shader code, is better at benchmarking the system's general ability to cycle the game loop with its CPU bottlenecks, OS calls, etc. than measuring how well the driver is generating code for and managing the GPU (just keeping one busy is quite hard with its ridiculous number-crunching ability and you absolutely can't have it sitting idle while something's being sent across the bus if you want realtime performance). I'd imagine the huge difference in Lightsmark v2008 is because the test is meant to measure GPU performance and not have the CPU tinker with some scene graph structure that was never designed with memory bottlenecks in mind.

And why is VDrift still on Phoronix's benchmark list? Running that slow with its 10 year old graphics means it's either really CPU heavy (physics simulation?) or somehow puts GL into a state modern hardware can't render efficiently in, which would explain how Catalyst runs it so slow at least. In either case it's not a suitable benchmark for this.

Just sayin... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36775148)

"Official" drivers work 100% on my Windows box.... *runs*

Easy answer (1)

Captain Spam (66120) | more than 3 years ago | (#36775420)

When will NVIDIA change ways?

When the open AMD driver gets to at least 100% of the proprietary driver's speed in ALL cases, AND when AMD's sales start jumping up because of it, AND when Ubuntu decides to stop making it easy to install the Nvidia proprietary driver*. In other words, when they have a market reason to change ways and when competition is threatening to creep up on them if they don't.

Wow, that was easy enough. Next question?

*: Face facts, among Linux users who are going to want to use high-end video cards, the vast majority will use Ubuntu.

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