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AMD Overhauls Open-Source Linux Driver

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the added-support-for-individual-tree-leaf-motion-and-rump-physics dept.

AMD 126

An anonymous reader writes "AMD's open-source developer has posted an incredible set of 165 patches against the Linux kernel that provide support for a few major features to their Linux graphics driver. Namely, the open-source Radeon Linux driver now supports dynamic power management on hardware going back to the Radeon HD 2000 (R600) generation. The inability to re-clock the GPU frequencies and voltages dynamically based upon load has been a major limiting factor for open-source AMD users where laptops have been warm and there is diminished battery power. The patches also provide basic support for the AMD Radeon HD 8000 'Sea Islands' graphics processors on their open-source Linux driver."

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126 comments

Yay AMD (5, Insightful)

Noishe (829350) | about a year ago | (#44115471)

This is a great step in the right direction. Hopefully it's not the last step.

Re:Yay AMD (4, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#44115505)

This is a great step in the right direction. Hopefully it's not the last step.

AMD's penurious financials do make me nervous; but their strategic change in favor of *gasp* actually working to integrate support for their product into the kernel development process proper seems to be sincere and ongoing. Slower moving than one would like; but since they began their course-change, they've kept it up.

Re:Yay AMD (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44116045)

How could you be nervous about AMD? They're in every single next generation console system.

Re:Yay AMD (3, Interesting)

0123456 (636235) | about a year ago | (#44116273)

How could you be nervous about AMD? They're in every single next generation console system.

And what do you think profit margins are for console components?

Re:Yay AMD (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44118303)

Profitable!

Re:Yay AMD (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44118887)

profitable for those MAKING the devices (AMD), not so much for those SELLING the devices (Microsoft/Sony)

Re:Yay AMD (1)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#44116325)

How could you be nervous about AMD? They're in every single next generation console system.

Maybe Peek at their financials?

http://finance.yahoo.com/q/ks?s=AMD+Key+Statistics [yahoo.com]

AMD Financials Summary (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44116585)

$2B in debt, $1B cash, lost $600M last year, sales dropped 30% last year. They have no assets (spun off their manufacturing facilities). If the next gen consoles do not sell well because of casual / tablet gaming and potential Apple TV games, AMD will be bankrupt in one year and shuttering in two. Spending money on open source drivers is a long term investment - it's not going to get them an additional $600M in revenue next year (>2M additional graphics cards or >5M systemic wins) when PC sales are on the decline.

Re:AMD Financials Summary (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44117301)

You realize that the primary reason they're updating their *nix drivers is probably BECAUSE of tablets and the like? Most tablets and phone devices these days are not running Windows.

Re:AMD Financials Summary (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44117723)

and they just got onto the ARM bandwagon too so you know they'll be pulling their GPU tech into their ARM platform. So again there's more immediate returns coming from getting their GPU tech updated on Linux.

Re:AMD Financials Summary (2)

tlhIngan (30335) | about a year ago | (#44117831)

$2B in debt, $1B cash, lost $600M last year, sales dropped 30% last year. They have no assets (spun off their manufacturing facilities). If the next gen consoles do not sell well because of casual / tablet gaming and potential Apple TV games, AMD will be bankrupt in one year and shuttering in two. Spending money on open source drivers is a long term investment - it's not going to get them an additional $600M in revenue next year (>2M additional graphics cards or >5M systemic wins) when PC sales are on the decline.

It's unlikely to happen. And it's more than likely that Intel drove Microsoft and Sony to AMD at least to give them cashflow.

Remember, if AMD shutters, it means a world of hurt for Intel because they'd not only be barred from buying up AMD assets (including patents), but various governments have found Intel guilty of anti-trust and will probably begin tons of new investigations into Intel. Intel and its shareholders don't want that (a regulated Intel isn't good for profits, nor would having AMD's patent portfolio split up to everyone BUT Intel).

Intel will save AMD. The consoles are the first step at stemming the tide. If anything, it'll keep pesky government off of Intel.

Re:AMD Financials Summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44118245)

The easier explanation for going with AMD is that they needed decent graphics chips for the next-gen consoles. Since AMD likes to build those into their processors, it makes sense to use APUs from AMD, which is what both Microsoft and Sony did.

When the best selling processors are Arm processors (which Intel doesn't make) they don't really need to worry as much about anti trust issues.

Re:AMD Financials Summary (3, Interesting)

tyrione (134248) | about a year ago | (#44117935)

$2B in debt, $1B cash, lost $600M last year, sales dropped 30% last year. They have no assets (spun off their manufacturing facilities). If the next gen consoles do not sell well because of casual / tablet gaming and potential Apple TV games, AMD will be bankrupt in one year and shuttering in two. Spending money on open source drivers is a long term investment - it's not going to get them an additional $600M in revenue next year (>2M additional graphics cards or >5M systemic wins) when PC sales are on the decline.

Right and within 1 year the number of GPGPUs sold via their custom APUs inside Consoles with be 6:1 to 10:1 of your sales. They are in the new Wii, PS4 and XBox. They're expanding their small-to-mid-tier server footprint [beginning to own that space] and with more and more laptops using AMD APUs will begin to own that space. Their partnership with ARM will make them an attractive provider for future Smart TVs, and other embedded products not even yet projected out. AMD is going to be in the black very shortly.

http://www.istockanalyst.com/finance/story/6474155/3-v-checking-fbr-capital-markets-5-50-advanced-micro-devices-inc-amd-price-target [istockanalyst.com] ``Later in the report, Rolland added, `Whereas four months ago many investors were questioning AMD as an ongoing entity, today, we believe financial stability has been secured by next-gen gaming APU wins, with potential upside driven by new initiatives like SeaMicro. While AMD's recent woes remain fresh in mind, the business looks as though it has stabilized for now, and cash levels should remain sufficient for the near future.'

Obviously, investors are attracted by the possibility of a 35.8% return within a 12 month timeframe. If Rolland is correct, that's sort of like having your own ATM. Let's examine Advanced Micro Devices' five-year history for price-to-book (P/B), price-to-sales (P/S), and trailing price-to-earnings (P/E) to see if the analyst's price-tag is realistic.

While we have this AMD conversation, the street values the company at 6.98 times its book value; whereas, competitor Intel Corporation (INTC) trades with a P/B value of 2.34. To get to $5.50 based on the current book value of $0.58 per share, AMD would trade at 9.48 times book, well above the five year average of 4.78, but below the max of 17.06.

Since Wall Street expects AMD to lose $0.25 per share in 2013, we'll have to work with 2014's consensus profit estimate of $0.04 for our P/E analysis. A price-target of $5.50 requires a P/E of 137.5; whew, feeling a little light headed from the high altitude. How about you? It is dizzying as AMD's highest P/E in the last five-years has been 22.07. Five-fifty seems to be a little out-of-reach based on P/E. "

Good guys AMD (5, Insightful)

Reliable Windmill (2932227) | about a year ago | (#44115495)

I'm excited about getting the upcoming Kaveri. APUs are the way to go unless you have needs that call for huge CPU or GPU power, and I think AMD is definitely leading the innovation here. It's a nice bonus if I will be able to run Linux with good graphics acceleration as well.

Re:Good guys AMD (4, Interesting)

jkflying (2190798) | about a year ago | (#44115759)

Personally, I'm excited about HUMA and what it will mean for scientific computing. The second half of this year will be exciting!

Re:Good guys AMD (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44117157)

what the hell is HUMA?

HUMA (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44117311)

Hybrid Unified Memory Access.

Basically both your CPUs and GPUs having access to the same memory space without needing to 'swap' via apertures or anything else. It's currently intended for the gpu in APU packages, but I believe they've stated one of the next gen GPU platforms (HD9xxx?) is going to support it as well.

Re:HUMA (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44118657)

Minor correction: it's Heterogeneous Uniform Memory Access, in the AMD space, at least.

Also worth mentioning is that it'll be using very fast GDDR5, which means a huge increase in memory bandwidth for the CPU part of the APU, as well.

There may be some soldering of that RAM onto motherboards in the first generation of HUMA parts, but 8GB and >1TFLOPS would do wonders for scientific computing even if it was all soldered into a mass-produced media-centre PC.

Re:Good guys AMD (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44116591)

Kaveri is a finnish word for buddy, pal, in certain cases friend.

Re:Good guys AMD (4, Interesting)

Belial6 (794905) | about a year ago | (#44116629)

I have to agree. My son's laptop with an A10 processor beats both mine and my wife's laptops with i5. They all cost about the same amount. My laptop is fine for most tasks, but fails at gaming. My son's A10 handles every game he has tried without problem. There may be some that won't run well on it, but until we find one that doesn't, anything more would be wasted money.

Still not Stallman-approved. (5, Informative)

snarfies (115214) | about a year ago | (#44115531)

Per http://stallman.org/to-4chan.html [stallman.org] :

"Regarding graphics accelerators for PCs, ATI mostly cooperates with the free software movement, while nVidia is totally hostile. ATI has released free drivers.

However, the ATI drivers use nonfree microcode blobs, whereas most of nVidia's products (excepting the most recent ones) work ok with Nouveau, which is entirely free and has no blobs.

Thus, paradoxically, if you want to be free you need to get a not-very-recent nVidia accelerator.

I wish ATI would free this microcode, or put it in ROM, so that we could endorse its products and stop preferring the products of a company that is no friend of ours."

This sort of thing gets discussed quite a bit on 4chan's technolo/g/y board. Also, installing Gentoo.

Re:Still not Stallman-approved. (5, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#44115631)

Blobs are definitely not ideal; but I've never really understood the distinction between people who put them in ROM and people who require them to be loaded at initialization time(as long as they aren't assholes about redistribution: if Distro X is legally unable to distribute firmware.bin and I have to go to your site, download the Windows driver, and then chop it open to get firmware.bin, just to get an unaltered copy of your firmware to run with your device, I'm going to be pissed).

Both approaches involve exactly the same binary firmware blob, one just stores it on comparatively expensive, board-space-consuming, flash ROM and one stores it on system mass storage.

Firmware that is open is better than either; but closed firmware that is handled behind the curtain on the card seems no better than closed firmware that is supplied to the card during startup(again, assuming proper redistribution terms and proper driver support for that aspect of initializing the device).

Re:Still not Stallman-approved. (2)

greg1104 (461138) | about a year ago | (#44115845)

There are a few types of overhead involved in firmware distribution, and making that part of your system software pushes that work toward open source communities in a way they resent. If you look at things like Debian's policy [debian.org] , none of these blobs fit their guidelines. That means those firmware blobs go into their non-free repository. That wart is annoying enough that people regularly try to eliminate it altogether [machard.org] . All of that means some of the overhead manufacturers are saving by not having flash on the board is being passed on to free software packagers instead.

Similarly, there's also a very real cost involved with building, maintaining, and distributing the firmware updates and flashing code. Why should the Linux community pay for that? They'll do it, sure, but don't be surprised when people prefer options that avoid it.

Re:Still not Stallman-approved. (2)

jkflying (2190798) | about a year ago | (#44115907)

The entire point of firmware being upgradable is that it is... well... upgradable. Not only that, but different versions of firmware may be required for different versions of software. This way it is much easier to ensure compatibility, because the driver has the firmware baked into it.

Re:Still not Stallman-approved. (1)

greg1104 (461138) | about a year ago | (#44116399)

Much easier for who though? It's certainly easier for manufacturers to move all their firmware issues so the OS has to deal with them. But the cost of doing that work is being pushed toward kernel developers and packagers. Whether the end result is better or worse is complicated, but that's not why people like Stallman complain. What you can't argue with is that it's frustrating for a Linux kernel developer to spend time chasing down a bug that's actually inside of the firmware blob, or in the part of the code that is uploading the thing to the card. They often end up working blind in situations where source code would make things easier. And for many of those developers, wanting to have source code to everything relevant is why they work on open source software.

The point of things like Debian's social contract is that if you follow the guidelines and fit into the development community well, that community will both work on supporting your hardware and recommend its purchase. When a company doesn't do that, the people who have to handle the job don't like it. Now, if you like a Linux where binary blobs are a first class citizen, good for you. That sort of thing is how Ubuntu became more popular than Debian. But when a company doesn't do that, they can't expect to be a preferred vendor by the strictly licensed projects. Debian and others with similar goals are not going to ignore their rules and make a special exception for anyone.

Re:Still not Stallman-approved. (4, Informative)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#44116453)

The entire point of firmware being upgradable is that it is... well... upgradable. Not only that, but different versions of firmware may be required for different versions of software. This way it is much easier to ensure compatibility, because the driver has the firmware baked into it.

If it were firmware, I would be in agreement.

The objection to binary blobs, that are simply loaded into the device as firmware is sort of short sighted,
in that it punishes vendors that actually plan in a method of upgrading their products with new firmware.

But by and large, that isn't the issue here.
Far to many of these blobs are loaded loaded into main memory and run as a process under the operating system,
free to do just about anything.

If blobs were ONLY firmware, they could run ONLY on the device, and could be loaded once at installation time.
Very few fall into this category. (Some wifi chips do load this way upon every boot).

Far too many remain running in main memory.

Re:Still not Stallman-approved. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44118097)

Sure, but this is not the case for any of the AMD blobs. Which are actual firmware: they program the small sequencer inside the GPU that handles fences and sends code to the real execution units. Unlike, say, the stuff that Intel used in the IPW22xx wireless cards, which is microcontroller machine code run in a full-blown microprocessor (i.e. not microcode).

The AMD microcode is also extremely stable, updates are extremely rare.

Re:Still not Stallman-approved. (1)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#44118285)

Perhaps. I haven't run the AMD proprietary drivers for a while.
When I did, I seem to recall a large binary always running.

Running the community Radeon drivers now, and I have the radeon driver (900k+) sitting in memory all the time.
Clearly a significant part of the card's work is done in main memory.

Re:Still not Stallman-approved. (2)

r1348 (2567295) | about a year ago | (#44116079)

Storing the binary firmware on the user's PC makes it way easier to be updated.

Re:Still not Stallman-approved. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44116833)

That's because you're a poo poo head.

Re:Still not Stallman-approved. (5, Insightful)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | about a year ago | (#44115639)

I don't understand why simply putting the closed source firmware on the card suddenly makes it ok for free software. Same code, just different home.

Re:Still not Stallman-approved. (-1, Flamebait)

FictionPimp (712802) | about a year ago | (#44115765)

Zealots never make much sense. That's part of what makes them Zealots, their ideals get in the way of common sense.

Re:Still not Stallman-approved. (4, Informative)

TubeSteak (669689) | about a year ago | (#44115867)

I don't understand why simply putting the closed source firmware on the card suddenly makes it ok for free software.

Licensing and distribution.

Anything that's in hardware has already dealt with the issues of licensing and distribution.
Closed source software represents and entirely different beast for free software distribution.

Re:Still not Stallman-approved. (2)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#44116533)

I don't understand why simply putting the closed source firmware on the card suddenly makes it ok for free software. Same code, just different home.

If that was what was being discussed it wouldn't be an issue.

If your closed source firmware actually ran on the card that would be fine. Load it once on boot and
it can only run in the Video card's GPUs, and interaction between it and the OS are somewhat
more controllable.

But take for example the Radeon driver (the so called open source one). It takes almost a meg of
main memory. The closed source one takes even more memory. Its running all the time that
your system is up.

Clearly its not just firmware we are talking about here.

Re:Still not Stallman-approved. (4, Informative)

LourensV (856614) | about a year ago | (#44116935)

I don't understand why simply putting the closed source firmware on the card suddenly makes it ok for free software. Same code, just different home.

Back in the days of the Open Graphics Project [wikipedia.org] (since defunct, although Timothy N. Miller [binghamton.edu] is still working in this area and the mailing list [duskglow.com] is still active for those interested in the subject), we had several discussions about the borders between Free software, open firmware, and open hardware.

As I understood the FSF's position at that time, the point is that if the firmware is stored on the host, it can be changed, and frequently is (i.e. firmware updates). Typically, the manufacturer has some sort of assembler/compiler tool to convert firmware written in a slightly higher level language to a binary that is loaded into the hardware, which then contains some simplistic CPU to run it (that's how OGD1 worked anyway). So, the firmware is really just specialised software, and for the whole thing to be Free, you should have access to the complete corresponding source code, plus the tools to compile it, or at least a description of the bitstream format so you can create those. This last part is then an instance of the general rule that for hardware to be Free software-friendly, all its programming interfaces should be completely documented.

If the code is put into ROM, it cannot be changed without physically changing the hardware (e.g. desoldering the chip and putting in another one). At that point, the FSF considers it immutable, and therefore not having the firmware source code doesn't restrict the user's freedom to change the firmware, since they don't have any anyway. The consequences are a bit funny in practice, as you noted, but it is (as always with the FSF) a very consistent position.

We (of the OGP-related Open Hardware Foundation, now also defunct; the whole thing was just a bit too ambitious and too far ahead of its time) argued that since hardware can be changed (i.e. you can desolder and replace that ROM), keeping the design a secret restricts the users freedom just as well. So, we should have open hardware, which would be completely (not just programming interfaces, but the whole design) documented and can therefore be changed/extended/repaired/parts-reused by the user. The FSF wasn't hostile to that idea, but considered it beyond their scope. Of course, any open hardware would automatically also be Free software-friendly.

I tend to agree that in practice, especially if there are no firmware updates forthcoming but it's just a cost-savings measure, loading the code from the host rather than from a ROM is a marginal issue. Strictly speaking though, I do think that the FSF have a point.

Still nobody gives a shit what Stallman thinks (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44115807)

Nuff said.

Re:Still not Stallman-approved. (1, Insightful)

unixisc (2429386) | about a year ago | (#44117993)

Per http://stallman.org/to-4chan.html [stallman.org] :

"Regarding graphics accelerators for PCs, ATI mostly cooperates with the free software movement, while nVidia is totally hostile. ATI has released free drivers.

However, the ATI drivers use nonfree microcode blobs, whereas most of nVidia's products (excepting the most recent ones) work ok with Nouveau, which is entirely free and has no blobs.

Thus, paradoxically, if you want to be free you need to get a not-very-recent nVidia accelerator.

I wish ATI would free this microcode, or put it in ROM, so that we could endorse its products and stop preferring the products of a company that is no friend of ours."

This sort of thing gets discussed quite a bit on 4chan's technolo/g/y board. Also, installing Gentoo.

I won't comment on his liberated firmware blob comment, or the stupidity of his suggestion of putting it in ROM (and calling it a circuit), but why does RMS insist on calling the company ATI, when it's been acquired, merged & digested by AMD?

AMD needs to do this 1000% more (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44115535)

The driver support is untenable given the competitive dynamic with Nvidia - the hardware IS good, the drivers SUCK but are improving.
I've been stuck using beta drivers for months for my 7x00 product because WHQL drivers have ALL KINDS OF PROBLEMS.

Re:AMD needs to do this 1000% more (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44115633)

Nvidia is much worse, borderline "doesn't give a shit about Linux" which is why AMD needs to kick their ass in this sector and SHOULD HAVE ALREADY.

Re:AMD needs to do this 1000% more (3, Insightful)

jedidiah (1196) | about a year ago | (#44116113)

Nvidia is only worse in some sort of GPL zealot fantasy land. Out in the real world, it's not so bad actually. They provide the support. They just don't provide it in the precise manner that a noisy minority wants.

AMD can start by displacing 6 year old ION kit.

Re:AMD needs to do this 1000% more (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44116471)

Then again, AMD's Linux drivers actually work, while nVidia's do not.

Re:AMD needs to do this 1000% more (3, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year ago | (#44118039)

Then again, AMD's Linux drivers actually work, while nVidia's do not.

Then again, you have that exactly backwards.

Re:AMD needs to do this 1000% more (1)

jedidiah (1196) | about a year ago | (#44118511)

Like I said... when I can replace my ION boxes with the AMD counterpart then you can say that AMD has caught up in the driver support department. Until then, Nvidia detractors are just spewing a lot of hot air.

Although it looks like Intel will beat them to that.

Thank God. (4, Interesting)

intermodal (534361) | about a year ago | (#44115553)

My laptop ran ridiculously hot on the open-source until I got the closed-source drivers to install properly. Let's hope the fix means default installs of Ubuntu won't melt your igloo.

Re:Thank God. (1)

Covalent (1001277) | about a year ago | (#44115677)

+100 to this.

I spent hours trying to track down the cause of my laptop being a fusion reactor on my lap. I can't WAIT to see if this works.

Re:Thank God. (1)

uncqual (836337) | about a year ago | (#44116335)

Glad you figured it out. Before I had a chance to, my igloo melted and shorted out my laptop.

Poor design (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44115557)

Why would you have to make kernel changes just to support a graphic driver? No wonder Linux is still just a child's toy.

Re:Poor design (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44115581)

MiguelSoft no need change kernel to fix drivers.

Install MiguelSoft or we keel your family!!

Re:Poor design (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44115839)

Drivers can also be compiled separately as modules that can be loaded into the kernel (that is, a driver doesn't need to be included in the kernel, it's just a matter of convenience).
Example: The nvidia kernel module can't be distributed with the kernel, so it's not included in the kernel's code at all. When installing the driver, there's a shim that's compiled against your specific kernel that provides an interface between the binary-blob driver that NVidia provides and the kernel.

Re:Poor design (1)

jones_supa (887896) | about a year ago | (#44116389)

Why would you have to make kernel changes just to support a graphic driver? No wonder Linux is still just a child's toy.

This is a perfectly valid question.

I bet that if it was in the form "Why would you have to make kernel changes just to support a graphic driver? No wonder Windows is still just a child's toy." (assuming that graphics drivers were done like that in Windows), the comment would be +5 Insightful instead of being modded down by the Slashdot Linux-lover-bots.

So please, tell me why does the Linux kernel need manufacturer-specific modules to support graphics cards? Shouldn't the kernel just include the basic things like the ability to talk to a PCI Express device, and then graphics drivers would be implemented at a higher level?

Re:Poor design (1)

epyT-R (613989) | about a year ago | (#44116927)

That's basically what happens, but today's graphics cards require large amounts of address space and low latency IO, and the kernel module bypasses the kernel userspace stuff that requires excess copying along the way. Also, things like power management support are handled via the kernel, and if KMS is used, the kernel supports a fully accelerated, native resolution system console.

However, the bulk of the 3D driver is in userspace already as mesa regardless of video hardware. Nvidia ships a modified binary-only mesa libGL and their module does not support KMS.

Re:Poor design (1)

DamnStupidElf (649844) | about a year ago | (#44116979)

So please, tell me why does the Linux kernel need manufacturer-specific modules to support graphics cards? Shouldn't the kernel just include the basic things like the ability to talk to a PCI Express device, and then graphics drivers would be implemented at a higher level?

Because Linux is a monolithic kernel instead of a microkernel.

Re:Poor design (1)

Medievalist (16032) | about a year ago | (#44117659)

why does the Linux kernel need manufacturer-specific modules to support graphics cards? Shouldn't the kernel just include the basic things like the ability to talk to a PCI Express device, and then graphics drivers would be implemented at a higher level?

Why do you need specific wavelengths of light to see? Shouldn't your eyeballs support anything, and your brain sort it out?

Why do you need road surfaces of a particular firmness to drive? Shouldn't your tires just drive on any sort of atoms, regardless of their liquid, solid or gaseous state?

Why do.... ah, never mind. The answer is that jones_supa hasn't paid for things to be any better. Cough up the cash like you do for Microsoft and you can pay for the mods you want.

Enough to switch from Intel for my next laptop? (1)

Timothy Hetrick (2944943) | about a year ago | (#44115583)

In 4 to 5 months I'll be replacing my laptop and I would LOVE to have better graphics performance but the stability and power saving of my intel's integrated & merely adequate GPU's will probably be the deciding factor. Of course by then AMD is going to have to compete with Haswell too...

Re:Enough to switch from Intel for my next laptop? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44115789)

AMD isn't competing with Haswell, and in 4-5 months Intel will be approaching the next phase in their Tick/Tock strategy. It seems very unlikely that better GPU drivers will make things much better.

Re:Enough to switch from Intel for my next laptop? (1)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#44116661)

In 4 to 5 months I'll be replacing my laptop and I would LOVE to have better graphics performance but the stability and power saving of my intel's integrated & merely adequate GPU's will probably be the deciding factor. Of course by then AMD is going to have to compete with Haswell too...

The thing is, on new machines, your chip set will probably still be able to run proprietary drivers.
The opensource drivers for AMD generally apply only to the older chips sets.

All Haswell mobile chips have vPro: ram-kvm spy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44118433)

All Haswell mobile chips have vPro: ram-kvm spy chip.

Look it up. Can be reenabled remotely.

Why not open source it period? (1)

MikeRT (947531) | about a year ago | (#44115597)

Maybe there's a boat load of trade secrets in the closed source drivers, but I'd imagine that this is a perfect area for patents to be used against competitors. It would seem to me that most hardware vendors would benefit from open sourcing their main drivers and documenting them lightly so that they could offload maintenance costs for smaller OSes to "the community" while relying on patent law to protect novel inventions.

Re:Why not open source it period? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44115889)

It works in reverse. You make it possible for competitors to comb through the source code looking for patent violations.

Re:Why not open source it period? (1)

johanwanderer (1078391) | about a year ago | (#44115897)

Most likely because of IP-licensing that does not allow certain portion of their code to be open-sourced.

Most likely pulled from your butt. (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44116195)

NVidia tried that and made the mistake of saying who the IP that was the roadblock was: Sun. Sun Microsystems said "There is nothing that they have of ours that we would refuse to have open sourced". NVidia's response was to clam up and let the fanbois repeat the claim for ever more.

Re:Why not open source it period? (3, Interesting)

0123456 (636235) | about a year ago | (#44116311)

Maybe there's a boat load of trade secrets in the closed source drivers, but I'd imagine that this is a perfect area for patents to be used against competitors.

You have that backwards. If their drivers are inadvertantly violating a patent owned by Joe's Patent Trolls, Inc, then making the drivers open source makes that violation much easier to spot.

Patents are a huge disincentive to releasing open source drivers. Another issue the company I worked for had was hardware bugs, because having to put bizarre workarounds in closed source drivers was no big deal, but a bit embarrassing in open source.

Re:Why not open source it period? (2)

jones_supa (887896) | about a year ago | (#44116463)

It would seem to me that most hardware vendors would benefit from open sourcing their main drivers and documenting them lightly so that they could offload maintenance costs for smaller OSes to "the community" while relying on patent law to protect novel inventions.

I'd rather have a manufacturer-supported, in-house, full-feature, high-performance driver than something that is left in the hands of unpaid "community members", with a driver which supports the hardware properly 10 years after the device has been on the market.

Kernel Version? (0)

jfdavis668 (1414919) | about a year ago | (#44115609)

In which version will this be included?

Re:Kernel Version? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44115725)

Lazy much? Read the first article linked in the summary. Your answer is right there in the first sentence.

And to preempt the "you must be new here" crowd, I'm not. Please pollute other posts with your low hanging fruit, if you must.

Re:Kernel Version? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44116495)

You must be new here, anonymous TWIT.

Re:Kernel Version? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44115753)

I know it's difficult to click, but it says in the first sentence in the document linked first. Come on!

---8

These are the radeon patches for 3.11. Some of these patches
are huge so, it might be easier to review things here:
http://cgit.freedesktop.org/~agd5f/linux/log/?h=drm-next-3.11-wip

I'll send a formal pull in request in the next day or two.

Highlights of this series:
- DPM support (Dynamic Power Management) for r6xx-SI
- Support for CIK (Sea Islands): modesetting, 3D, compute, UVD
- ASPM support for R6xx-SI

Since this is the initial public DPM code, it's still disabled by default
until we get more community testing. Pass dpm=1 to the radeon module to
enable it.

Re:Kernel Version? (2)

Jmc23 (2353706) | about a year ago | (#44115769)

Why don't you RTFA to find out? It's in the first sentence!

Side effect of console design wins? (4, Insightful)

JDG1980 (2438906) | about a year ago | (#44115627)

I can't help but wonder if this is related to AMD's recent console design wins, especially PS4. Up until now, there hasn't really been a strong business case for putting a lot of effort into Unix-based video drivers. But since PS4 runs on FreeBSD and uses OpenGL as its API layer, a lot of the effort that AMD put into the drivers there can probably be ported over to the Linux drivers without much trouble. The PS4 and Xbone GPUs both use AMD's standard Graphics Core Next (GCN) architecture.

Re:Side effect of console design wins? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44115699)

"But since PS4 runs on FreeBSD"

No, it doesn't, just like OSX isn't FreeBSD. The development kit runs on FreeBSD, which is about as relevant as a lot of developers of embedded systems working on Windows machines.

Re:Side effect of console design wins? (1)

Bengie (1121981) | about a year ago | (#44116121)

Well, Sony did say that PS4 will be running on a custom OS that is based from FreeBSD 9.0

Re:Side effect of console design wins? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44116517)

Where did they say that? Specifics please.

Re:Side effect of console design wins? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44117179)

Re:Side effect of console design wins? (0)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | about a year ago | (#44117251)

That's a story about the dev kit not the PS4.

Re:Side effect of console design wins? (1)

Bengie (1121981) | about a year ago | (#44117213)

Re:Side effect of console design wins? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44117243)

Nowhere in there is any quotes from Sony saying the PS4 runs FreeBSD. That's an article about someone else posting a supposed image of the dev kit bootloader. You said:

Well, Sony did say that PS4 will be running on a custom OS that is based from FreeBSD 9.0

So, as I asked link to me where Sony said any such thing.

Re:Side effect of console design wins? (4, Informative)

gman003 (1693318) | about a year ago | (#44116635)

You don't really know what a development kit is, do you?

A devkit is not an SDK. It's the same hardware and software as the retail product, but with additions/modifications that enable debugging (adding debugging ports, using libraries with debug symbols, etc). They also get the ability to run "unlicensed" software, since you can't go to Sony/Microsoft/Nintendo every time you compile in order to have it certified. And, finally, early devkits may not have the final case/board, since launch titles need to start development well before the case or even motherboard are finished (famously, the early Xbox 360 devkits used Power Mac G5 cases and motherboards).

So if the devkit is running a FreeBSD kernel, the final product will be running a slightly different version of the same kernel.

Re:Side effect of console design wins? (1)

interval1066 (668936) | about a year ago | (#44115797)

The PS4 runs a FreeBSD kernel? Who knew...? Kind wonder why... the BSD side of the tree has code older than Adam...

Re:Side effect of console design wins? (1)

sconeu (64226) | about a year ago | (#44115979)

Why? Licensing.

Re:Side effect of console design wins? (1)

bobbomo (877614) | about a year ago | (#44115991)

The PS3 supposedly ran a modified FreeBSD as well. So between experience and licensing, it does make some sense.

Re:Side effect of console design wins? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44116065)

The dev kit runs a Sony version of the FreeBSD 9 kernel. There has been no evidence to show what the actual console runs.

Re:Side effect of console design wins? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44116681)

News flash...dev kits run about the same stuff as the final release, minus some features that only developers would want.

The idea behind a dev kit is that it is close(ish) to the final release form so that when you actually *do* development on the dev kit, it is not so different from what you end up releasing on.

Re:Side effect of console design wins? (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year ago | (#44117019)

there's no reason why the mediabar etc blob wouldn't be freebsd based though.

the apps can't just run "bare to the metal" as in the way xbox1 used to anyways when there's always the os there to jump into..

Re:Side effect of console design wins? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44116117)

Because the PS3 and PS2 did too, they've got their own stack and they're used to it

Sony the company that put BSD/Linux in every home (1)

future assassin (639396) | about a year ago | (#44116203)

and made it the year or Linux, say it ain't so...

Re:Side effect of console design wins? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44116221)

I thought that PlayStation used PSGL for its titles, with support for OpenGL ES 2 for indie devs and other misc things.

Re:Side effect of console design wins? (2)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | about a year ago | (#44116541)

No the vast majority of games use LibGCM or go bare metal. Next to no one used PSGL on either the PS2 or PS3.

Re: Side effect of console design wins? (1)

zixxt (1547061) | about a year ago | (#44118687)

There has no proof of any kind that PS4 is running FreeBSD or any *nix for that matter. SSYI

Many Bitcoin Miners Rejoice! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44115817)

Many Bitcoin Miners Rejoice!

Speed based on heat is a feature? (1)

Animats (122034) | about a year ago | (#44115893)

The inability to re-clock the GPU frequencies and voltages dynamically based upon load has been a major limiting factor for open-source AMD users where laptops have been warm and there is diminished battery power.

A compute rate that varies with temperature would seem to be a bug, rather than a feature. I don't want a GPU that does that. I need repeatable Gazebo simulations.

Re:Speed based on heat is a feature? (2)

Cyrano de Maniac (60961) | about a year ago | (#44116189)

I'm not sure if that was sarcasm. If it was, ignore the following.

Then turn off dynamic power/thermal management (e.g. Turbo Boost on Intel processors, I'm sure it has fancy marketing names on various GPUs/etc). You'll get consistent performance, at the expense of maximum possible speed.

Such systems typically have a nominal guaranteed rate, which is all you get if you turn off this feature, keeping the hardware within the acceptable maximum continuous-load power/thermal envelope, assuming that your power/thermal engineers abided by the product's design guides. With this you should be able to obtain a minimum guaranteed compute rate, but nothing more.

However when these features are turned on, the hardware is capable of detecting from moment to moment when there is some additional power or thermal margin, sometimes even between different areas of a chip. The hardware will temporarily adjust clock rates and the like to take advantage of that extra head room. With this a little extra performance beyond the guaranteed compute rate is obtained, at the expense of a predictable compute rate.

I'm sure this behavior drives professional benchmarkers batty. I'm not sure how they deal with it -- one setting gets you the best numbers, the other setting gets you reproducible numbers. Which set you use might depend on what marketing wants to sell to a particular customer.

Re:Speed based on heat is a feature? (1)

MurukeshM (1901690) | about a year ago | (#44116411)

It is a feature. Too hot -> fans running at full tilt -> more power consumption. Mostly for laptops, and you can turn this off in Catalyst. I wonder why you didn't know this. NVidia's GPUs and even most CPUs do this.

Re:Speed based on heat is a feature? (1)

Bengie (1121981) | about a year ago | (#44116481)

A compute rate that varies with temperature would seem to be a bug, rather than a feature.

Only in an environment where a stable temperature is a feature, unless you think crashing is a good thing, chips can only get so warm.

Re:Speed based on heat is a feature? (1)

EvanED (569694) | about a year ago | (#44116643)

A compute rate that varies with temperature would seem to be a bug, rather than a feature.

Read again: The inability to re-clock the GPU frequencies and voltages dynamically based upon load has been... The reclocking (or lack thereof) affects temperature, not is caused by it.

(Though the other responses are technically accurate, I think they miss the main point of the complaint.)

Will the older cards/chipsets ever be supported? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44116291)

It's great that AMD is improving support for a lot of their hardware on Linux. In fact, as a result, my next graphics card purchase will be from AMD.

One thing I'd like to see them address is older hardware... I have an older ATI chipset (RS600) on my laptop. It's pretty much unusable due to some severe bugs. It would be awesome if they opened up enough specifications on older cards to allow those people who still have them to fix buggy drivers since I don't expect them to go back and add in support on hardware no longer being sold.

Re:Will the older cards/chipsets ever be supported (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44117397)

Yep, I have a number of older laptops that depend on legacy ATi video that AMD will probably never support. Stuff like MacBook Pros with x1600 ATi cards and equally expensive HP kit with the FireGL equivalent. I'd love to just load them up with Linux but video support just kills the idea.

Thank You AMD (1)

Ralph Ostrander (2846785) | about a year ago | (#44116879)

Thank Thank you.

They've pulled out all HD resolutions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44117345)

and replaced them with on-the-fly ANSI graphics rendering in 80x25.

Good, but still a long way to go (3)

xiando (770382) | about a year ago | (#44118875)

I've got a HD3300 IGP and that works alright with the open source driver. Not good, but alright. Then I bought a HD7850 and tried using the latest open source drivers. By latest I mean MESA snapsot from 20130619 and all the latest pieces. It is utterly broken and useless. Scrolling in applications cause artifacts. Starting some applications (like LibreOffice) just makes X hang. There is no usable open source drivers for the latest AMD cards. Yes there is something available, but it's a broken joke you can't actually use.

It is possible to use the open source driver to have one monitor on the HD3300 IGP and two monitors on the HD7850 without accelration on any of the monitors. Try the same setup with accelration and their driver segfaults.

I basically bought a HD7850 because AMD claims there's a open source driver for it. When you try it you'll find that there is no such thing as a functioning open source driver for this card and cards in this family.

The new kernel patches are probably a step in the right direction, but it won't help with the latest cards. AMD developers have in their wizdom decided to provide no 2D driver at all, instead they rely on 3D for 2D using MESA and "glamor". glamor is a buggy joke at this point and it will probably take years before that changes. I wish I could point to AMD and say "they've got great open source support" but the truth is that it's crappy at best. Intel is the only alternative if you want working free software drivers as of now.
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