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AMD Develops New Linux Open-Source Driver Model

timothy posted about 5 months ago | from the winds-of-change dept.

AMD 142

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

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AMD (2)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about 5 months ago | (#46553643)

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

Intel (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46553729)

Lower power consumption in better CPUs. Why choose AMD?

Re:Intel (5, Informative)

Rich0 (548339) | about 5 months ago | (#46553763)

Lower power consumption in better CPUs. Why choose AMD?

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

Re:Intel (3, Informative)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about 5 months ago | (#46553795)

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

Re:Intel (4, Insightful)

Rich0 (548339) | about 5 months ago | (#46553869)

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

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

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

Re:Intel (0)

Kjella (173770) | about 5 months ago | (#46554613)

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

Not really. I'm still using an i7-860 from 2009, if you compare [anandtech.com] them to an FX-8350 they're trading blows, the Intel wins 9 of these benchmarks and AMD 4. Granted the FX-8350 was released in 2012, but AMD doesn't have anything newer while Intel does. In terms of "what would be an upgrade for me?" it's not even close, I was considering the i7-4770K but while clearly superior to my processor it's still not compelling enough. Personally I'm looking at possibly buying a Haswell-E/X99 combo, because despite the huge initial cost the general advance is so slow that I think an 8 core extreme processor will still kick a "mainstream" processor's ass in 5 years, maybe even 10 years. It's clearly that we're hitting the limits of performance/watt and so a 130W enthusiast processor has a significant advantage.

Re:Intel (5, Insightful)

hairyfeet (841228) | about 5 months ago | (#46555145)

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

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

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

Re:Intel (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46555643)

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

Re:Intel (2)

Mashdar (876825) | about 5 months ago | (#46556963)

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

In my usage, single-process applications tend not to be CPU-bound, or they tend not to be computationally taxing. But YMMV. And some games are obviously highly 1-2 core CPU bound (Blizzard), which is worth considering.

Finally points:
Over clocking: If you are planning on overclocking, the least expensive intel part is $240 (33% over FX-8350). Overclocking won't close the FX-8350 single-threaded performance gap, but it helps.
Heat: The FX-8350 is rated at a TDP of 125W... The i5-4570 is rated at 84w. So AMD is hotter and louder.

Disclaimer: My next system is going to be Intel, primarily because I want the machine to be near-silent, and 125W is hard to work around.
Note: All prices based on Newegg at the time of writing.

Re:Intel (2)

aztracker1 (702135) | about 5 months ago | (#46555577)

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

Re:Intel (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46555913)

i7 in 2009 cost a grip.

Re:Intel (4, Informative)

Rockoon (1252108) | about 5 months ago | (#46555965)

A comparison amongst users in typical rigs, rather than in review-site benchmark rigs. [cpubenchmark.net]
i7-860 1217 / 5110 (812 samples, single threaded / overall)
FX-8350 1512 / 9049 (3149 samples, single threaded / overall)

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

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

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

Re:Intel (1)

Kjella (173770) | about 5 months ago | (#46556393)

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

Re:Intel (1)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about 5 months ago | (#46557189)

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

Re:Intel (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46554933)

AMD has a hard time supplying enough chips for a company like Dell. Say what you will about Intel, but they have plenty of fabs out there to supply the lion's share of the market.

Re:Intel (2)

aztracker1 (702135) | about 5 months ago | (#46555587)

Well, they seem to be shipping enough GPUs for the likes of the XBone, and the PS4 ... That said, I think if they had the exclusivity with Dell that Intel has had, then they would be able to supply. I see a lot of AMD from most other mfgs, and sales overall are down for everyone, including Intel.

Re:Intel (1, Insightful)

ArchieBunker (132337) | about 5 months ago | (#46554095)

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

Re:Intel (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46554523)

That's just becase generic software is compiled for generic optimizations. Just recompile your performance critical pieces of software with right compiler flags (optimize for specific cpu model) and you'll see wonders. Then try to figure out why AMD has such a share in high performance computing :)

Re:Intel (1)

Blaskowicz (634489) | about 5 months ago | (#46555839)

AMD's use of Hypertransport makes it a bit easier to create fast low latency interconnects, needed for high performance clusters or supercomputers.

Re:Intel (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46555905)

Not any more. QPI and even it's little brother DMI are both faster than Hypertransport. AMD briefly had an advantage here, but Intel have obliterated it by now.

Re:Intel (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46554931)

For $120, your options are:
Intel: i3 3240 or i3 4130
AMD: FX 6300 or A10 5800

As you can see, the slower intel is faster than the AMD in both cases:
http://anandtech.com/bench/pro... [anandtech.com]
http://anandtech.com/bench/pro... [anandtech.com]

For what it's worth, it also uses 2/3 the power.

Re:Intel (1)

Rich0 (548339) | about 5 months ago | (#46555047)

The FX-6300 is actually faster in multi-threaded cases, which isn't surprising since it has 6 cores vs 2. The single-threaded performance of the Intel processor is clearly better. So, I'd call that one a bit of a toss-up depending on needs.

The Intel chip definitely uses less power though - that is one thing I definitely don't care for in my Phenom II systems - heat management is a real problem.

Re:Intel (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46555939)

Actually, it's about 50/50 in the multithreaded benchmarks. In the single threaded benchmarks it's all Intel's way. And remember, this is comparing against a previous generation, lower end than needs be Intel chip. We're looking at the 3220, not the 3240, and *certainly* not the 4130.

Re:Intel (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46556637)

the fx-6300 is actually also AMD's previous generation.

and i don't agree with your 50/50 assesment. intel might win a few by a small margin (and not even then is it 50/50 (make sure to look at "higher or lower is better')) the AMD beats the pants off of it in others.

Re:Intel (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 5 months ago | (#46554043)

Why choose AMD?

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

Re:Intel (1)

epyT-R (613989) | about 5 months ago | (#46555041)

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

Re:AMD (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46554659)

Because Intel drivers don't suck.

Re:AMD (2)

epyT-R (613989) | about 5 months ago | (#46554895)

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

Re:AMD (2)

aztracker1 (702135) | about 5 months ago | (#46555615)

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

On the higher end it really depends. If you are doing software development, then the multi-core support of an 8350 might work better for you than an i7. If you are wanting to do video/image editing on large images/files, then the i7 will be a much better option. Video transcoding can go either way and is dependent on the software you are using. If you want to create a hackintosh, then the i5/i7 is really the only way to go.

Re:AMD (1)

invictusvoyd (3546069) | about 5 months ago | (#46555723)

And better beeetcoin mining .. zzz just kidding .. but nvidia sucks at bitcoin

Why, oh why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46553651)

... do they have to keep a proprietary driver anyway?

If they put all their man power just into the open source/ free software driver, who's damage would it be?

Re:Why, oh why? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46553703)

The proprietary driver includes licensed/patented code that they can't legally use in an open source driver.

Re:Why, oh why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46553829)

Legally, there cannot be viable patents on code (at least in the EU*). I don't care about the rest of the world....

*which does not seem to be true in practice as there is a lot of fuck up in the patent system...

Re:Why, oh why? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46553717)

The proprietary driver contains code that they can't legally use in an open source driver.

Re:Why, oh why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46553901)

Is there a source for this claim?

I mean, they have written the code by their own, haven't they?

Licensing issues with opening the code (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46553993)

That point was specifically addressed the the article. It isn't that AMD can't legally open up the code, but that is where they view their secret sauce of optimizations and tweaks. If they were to open it up, they fear that competitors might get a leg up and be able to use the same tricks.

Re:Licensing issues with opening the code (1)

epyT-R (613989) | about 5 months ago | (#46555537)

that's a stupid place to hide secrets.. I guarantee that nvidia has already reverse engineered the driver. open the code and put it under a license that prevents it being used with anything but a radeon graphics card, which is basically what's going to happen anyway. At least then the code can be built/rebuilt/ported/debugged with the rest of the system when needed.

Re:Why, oh why? (2)

EvanED (569694) | about 5 months ago | (#46553731)

In addition to what other people have said, GPU drives contain shader compilers and probably other kinds of optimization routines which actually give a "competitive advantage".

Re:Why, oh why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46553873)

Well, at least Intel seems to be able have decent open source drivers that are on par with the windows versions.
It is not to their harm, as far as I know. At least they are not in decay, as some other hardware manufacturer happens to be.

Re:Why, oh why? (3, Insightful)

EvanED (569694) | about 5 months ago | (#46554031)

Well, here's the thing... to at least a moderate extent, Intel isn't really competing against AMD or nVidia, because unless something has changed relatively recently, they don't have anything that comes even close to the offerings of the latter in terms of performance. So if AMD or nVidia learns something about how Intel chips works and improves their own a bit as a result, they're not going to take away much business from Intel. On the other hand, if AMD open-sourced the guts of their driver and nVidia learned enough to raise the performance of their own cards by a few percentage points or something, that'd be a somewhat big deal.

The complement to this argument is that because Intel can't win customers based on performance, they have incentive to seek other distinguishing factors. One of those factors would be openness and Linux support.

Re:Why, oh why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46554163)

Well, mostly those high-end gaming graphics cards have had their best time. Anyone who is betting on them and does not really care about Linux performance as AMD seems to be doing, is bound to perish.

I fear that mobile devices are the future, and that therefore Android will gain even more prevalence than it has today in the "computer" market.
With their current Linux performance, AMD is not nearly able to be competitive in a mobile, Linux dominated market.

Intel appears to be in a at least somewhat better position.

Apart from that:
It would be no problem if all people just used Free operating systems and only the free drivers. An competitor who improved their proprietary driver through observations made at an open source driver, would not gain any competitive advancement. He therefore would need to incorporate the changes in his own open source driver, which may again would lead to improvements in other companies drivers.
I know, sadly, this is Utopia.

Re:Why, oh why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46554943)

because unless something has changed relatively recently, they don't have anything that comes even close to the offerings of the latter in terms of performance.

Things have changed. For mobile parts, Intel is competing with the mid-high range of AMD and nVidia. An Iris 5200 pro is for example about as fast as a GeForce 750m.

Re:Why, oh why? (1)

Kremmy (793693) | about 5 months ago | (#46554101)

Intel has decent enough open source drivers, until you get to the chips like the GMA 500 that just don't quite DO that. Intel has done pretty good with Linux support overall, but they definitely haven't solved the problem.

Re:Why, oh why? (1)

TheGavster (774657) | about 5 months ago | (#46554135)

The GMA500 driver might be doing fine, but for some reason they keep licensing third party graphics for the integrated solution on Atom processors, or at least the ones making it into industrialized products. Getting OpenGL up under Linux on PC/104 or other embedded board is a royal pain in my experience.

Re:Why, oh why? (1)

Kjella (173770) | about 5 months ago | (#46554813)

The GMA500 driver might be doing fine, but for some reason they keep licensing third party graphics for the integrated solution on Atom processors, or at least the ones making it into industrialized products. Getting OpenGL up under Linux on PC/104 or other embedded board is a royal pain in my experience.

Open source support depends on whether they're licensing it from PowerVR or using their own in-house graphics. If you check this page [wikipedia.org] Intel now use their own graphics in "Valleyview" systems, which should be much more open than before.

Re:Why, oh why? (1)

DarwinSurvivor (1752106) | about 5 months ago | (#46554227)

Intel's also does not make powerful graphics cards anywhere near as fast as amd or nvidia.

Re:Why, oh why? (1)

blackest_k (761565) | about 5 months ago | (#46554529)

they have some shockingly badly supported gpu;s on netbooks. that with cinimon are running the cpu at 250% at idle due to software rendering. with mate its around 5% idle. But no 3d anything and im sure the gpu could work quite well

Because the open source drivers suck so badly (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46555565)

The nouveau drivers, for example, are a COMPLETE NIGHTMARE. I run my business primarily on Linux (recent sctions related to Nvidia drivers on Linux are, however, pushing me to test BSD which appears to support real freedom rather than rhetorical freedom). My engineering work is all done on Linux boxes with Nvidia cards (we used mostly custom software). NOT ONE SYSTEM runs properly with nouveau. On some systems, the desktops are all corrupt with missing icons, polluted window borders missing menus etc. On some systems the 2D desktop seems fine until you want BOTH 3D and speed and discover that nouveau is an either-or proposition. On a couple of systems things are simply increasingly unstable until they lock-up. On EVERY SINGLE SYSTEM of you install the Nvidia closed source drivers, ALL the problems go away. Period.

I, for one, have become digusted lately by the Linux coders who, while lying about support for "freedom", are making it increasingly difficult to install the drivers I want to install (they appear unconcerned with MY freedom). Each time we move a system to a new OS release (or install a new system and put a new Linux release on it), what used to be a simple 5 minute task of adding the Nvidia driver becomes a longer more-painful and complex task. The newest Linux distros shove the incomplete and terribly buggy nouveau down my throat without asking (i.e. without giving me the freedom to say "no" during install) and they plumb it in so that, like a B-movie vampire, it keeps trying to rise from the dead (the old pre-nouveau default drivers were EASY to replace and made no effort to be undead). This costs me money, because it takes time (either my time or the time of one of my people). Unfortunately, drivers are the sort of code that people work on with great enthusiasm early-on but that later draw few volunteers for support and obscure-bug hunting... so these nouveau drivers will probably never be complete and reasonably bug-free (but they're being jammed into all the Linux releases anyway, of course, because ideology seems to trump basic competence)

These recent Linux kernels have garbage code added to them that's sole purpose is to NOT cooperate with closed-source code and that report Nvidia drivers as "Tainting" the Kernel. This is completely screwed-up on two levels: First, the only thing "tainting" the Kernel is warped anti-freedom politics. Second, good engineering practice is to include exactly as much as required to do a job, and nothing more (because extra stuff is unneeded complexity and introduces possible bugs). All this code complaining about "tainting" and trying to deny resources to closed source code is just bad engineering; it's just extra risk and clutter that, even if bug-free, provides no actual benefit (except to the egos of kreepy coders pushing their anti-freedom politics).

Oh, and all the whining in the Linux world about video card companies not needing any intellectual property rights and not having any legitimate interest in keeping their code closed-source is just bull. The Linux licences all DEPEND on the legitimacy of IP law. Without copyright law, for example, the GPL and other such licenses would have zero legitimacy and enforceability - you cannot have it both ways. As to that other Linux-fanboy argument that everything should be "free", I'll support demands that AMD and Nvidia give away their work for free when you fanboys agree to never be paid for the work you do nine-to-five. It's always easy to say other people should give you their work product with no restrictions and at no charge, but things look a little different when the shoe is on the other foot.

Re:Because the open source drivers suck so badly (1)

kenshin33 (1694322) | about 5 months ago | (#46555817)

? "tainted" is just a flag, nothing more. It's there in case womeone sends them a bug report (a crach for instance), if the kernel is "tainted" their answer will probabaly be : try again without the "tainting" module and see what happens : if the problem goes a way they'll send you crying to the one responsible for THAT module, periode.
There's absolutely NO denying anything to any module.

Good for them (4, Insightful)

Ynot_82 (1023749) | about 5 months ago | (#46553713)

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

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

Re:Good for them (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46553883)

Frankly, I wish more companies would tell the Kernel devs to go fuck themselves.

Re:Good for them (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46555115)

Why?

What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46553735)

Who besides AMD would bother writing drivers for AMD hardware? And why?

Re:What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46554275)

The "open source community" is always willing to do extremely complex and time-consuming GPU driver work for free!

um, no. Not so much (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46555617)

Most of the people who write drivers for Linux do so as part of their "day job"; they add a driver they (and their employer) need and everybody else benefits. There are no vast armies of highly-skilled driver writers sitting around looking for osbcure hardware that's just beggin for a clever driver and desperately hoping to do that tedious work for free. You can create a new device and release the specs on the web and you will NOT be confronted by a dozen great programmers volunteering to write free drivers. This teenage pipe-dream of how the world works has been repeatedly proven wrong.

What IS true about your comment is that SOME hardware attracts programmers who get a bit of hardware they want, get docs for it, and write free drivers that are "good enough" to satisfy their personal desires. Once the drivers do what THEY want, however, they typically lose interest (or get married and have kids, etc) and the code never reaches a level of general completeness to be seen as "professional"

Don't bother arguing about this if you have not written any complete drivers for a device on Linux (I have). Too many in Linux-land argue an ideology and support an ideal they BELIEVE in (like a quasi-religion). They believe in "open source" code like many religious people believe in "heaven" - but just like so many religious people, "they are unwilling to do what they must to get there" (i.e. live a "sin-free" life, or actually write and release significant open-source code).

Re: What? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46554545)

How do you think the open source radeon driver came to be?

Re: What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46555121)

Oh, ok so if people are willing to spend a year of their life, or more, writing a driver, and probably failing to achieve the performance level that AMD already provides... I guess... No, no, I still don't get it! The hardware is proprietary, what difference does it make if the driver is or isn't as well? I just don't really get the point? I see the driver as more of a hardware thing really. And modern GPU drivers are seriously complex, not something your gonna pound out in weekend warrior mode!

Re: What? (2)

aztracker1 (702135) | about 5 months ago | (#46555637)

I'm sorry, but realistically proprietary GPUs aren't a big issue... the PCIe slot is pretty standard, and they all come on boards that fit into that slot, and beyond that, the odds of a regular person spinning up a fab order for non-proprietary CPU/GPU/board combinations is just plain unlikely. Having open software that works with said hardware is a *much* bigger issue... unless you are planning on using some under-powered GPU that will have trouble with 1080p 3D that is. That said, having open drivers allows for faster and better integrated updates from linux distributions, and more options as a whole.

Does AMD still matter? (0, Troll)

bogaboga (793279) | about 5 months ago | (#46553741)

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

Question is: Does AMD still matter?

Re:Does AMD still matter? (3, Insightful)

cbhacking (979169) | about 5 months ago | (#46553823)

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

Re:Does AMD still matter? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46555263)

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

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

Re: Does AMD still matter? (1)

Jezisheck (2558157) | about 5 months ago | (#46553865)

Of course it matters. For instance, I've been using AMD chips in all my computing devices since like 2005 after just horrible experience with my first Celeron (single-core, 2.0 GHz). AMD has proven to me over the time that they can make competitive CPUs (heck even GPUs, I got Radeon instead of nVidia too) and ask far less money for it than Intel would. And that's what counts for me cause thing like lifespan or power efficiency I can't really measure by myself.

Re:Does AMD still matter? (0)

zacherynuk (2782105) | about 5 months ago | (#46553905)

A very valid question. I haven't bought AMD kit since they fucked me over with socket 939. Basically a lost promise for futurebility. (my word)

I buy only about 500kusd kit a year but now I always avoid AMD and ATI GPU because their DP products simply do not work.

I know they do not work because I am always the last to be asked when we get new trading clients and their screens are flickering. Rip out the AMD GPU and replace with Nvidia. - actually, fuckit: once that far just replace the system for something that works:. Wintelvidia. (my word again) - Power saving, virtualisation, compatibility and multiple displays that actually work in a real environment. not just for a games benchmarks.

Honestly I have tried Cyrix, I really tried with AMD but at the end I have just gone back to intel.

Re:Does AMD still matter? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 5 months ago | (#46553939)

Honestly I have tried Cyrix, I really tried with AMD but at the end I have just gone back to intel.

All my PCs have had AMD processors for ages now, but I'm with you finally. I am tired of the poor power management support in the Linux kernel for AMD, and I don't care whose fault it is.

This new move from AMD is the only thing that could possibly make them relevant in my eyes in graphics, but only if they actually follow through and succeed...

Re:Does AMD still matter? (1)

zacherynuk (2782105) | about 5 months ago | (#46554025)

And the thing is... power management is the ultimate cost, isn't it ? You can't tell a dev, trader or (higher) management to shut their machine down. like you can a 'user' (who we can just policy to shutdown ) but 1000+ rigs running even at trimmings is still $50 / Amp. That shows in finances, bonuses, dolphins and trees.

Re:Does AMD still matter? (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | about 5 months ago | (#46555439)

I have never seen an AMD system crash except once due to the 13.1 driver issues on my system.

They run just fine and Nvidia seems to have the worse drivers this day and age. Shoot they have bricked some cards actually!

Re:Does AMD still matter? (2)

wjcofkc (964165) | about 5 months ago | (#46553937)

AMD still has roughly 20% market share, so I would say yes, AMD still matters. It's a pretty big market for what can be considered only two-players. AMD certainly has it's struggles, and with the prospect of an NVIDIA\Intel APU alliance on the horizon competition is going to get tougher. But even then they will probably be the "most bang for your buck" option which is a large but not exclusive part of what is keeping them alive. I use AMD APU's, but as a Linux user the first thing I do is disable the Radeon portion in the BIOS on pop in an NVIDIA card. My current frequency-unlocked quad core is no slouch and I hope to be getting an 8-core AMD in a couple of months.

Re:Does AMD still matter? (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 5 months ago | (#46554075)

I use AMD APU's, but as a Linux user the first thing I do is disable the Radeon portion in the BIOS on pop in an NVIDIA card.

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

Re:Does AMD still matter? (2)

wjcofkc (964165) | about 5 months ago | (#46554155)

I'm not even drinking yet I'm honestly not 100% sure what you are saying. I've tested it and CPU benchmarks are the same with or without using the integrated graphics. I'm not a gamer so I use cheap, lower end cards. I just really really hate dealing with Linux AMD drivers. I also dislike shared memory.

Re:Does AMD still matter? (2)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 5 months ago | (#46554577)

I'm HSAying what I'm HSAying. ;-)

Re:Does AMD still matter? (1)

Blaskowicz (634489) | about 5 months ago | (#46555907)

HSA means maybe some limited parts of some applications will be sped up, in an indeterminate future, if code has been specifically written for it and if the linux support is good enough. And it is only for A10 7850, 7700 and 7600, the latter of which isn't available. And distros need to ship code that runs on every CPU.

Re:Does AMD still matter? (1)

edxwelch (600979) | about 5 months ago | (#46554091)

That article for some reason ignores the last 2 quarters where AMD turned a profit. People have being saying AMD is finished for the last ten years, but yet it's still here.

Re:Does AMD still matter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46554327)

Between 6 mil PS4 (6 mils) and 3+ mil XBone (probably 4+mil soon due to Titan Fall) so far, they are selling their SoC even when the PC market isn't doing so well. Don't count them out just yet.

Re:Does AMD still matter? (1)

bloodhawk (813939) | about 5 months ago | (#46555689)

The PC Market even it is current state sells 70 million+ units a quarter, The PS and Xbox lifetime combined sales won't even come close to even this years reduced PC sales numbers. If AMD are reliant on the cut price console industry to help them then they are in dire trouble, at best the consoles provide a some pocket money as they will be selling in bulk orders with very low margins.

Re:Does AMD still matter? (1)

edxwelch (600979) | about 5 months ago | (#46556727)

The console market is guaranteed cash in the bank, with no competition from any other player. There's few companies that have a deal like that.
And the margin is quite good considering that Microsoft and Sony shared in development costs.

Re:Does AMD still matter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46555545)

I wonder how much of that is due to their GPUs constantly selling out as litecoin and other alt coin miner gobble them all up.

Re:Does AMD still matter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46555803)

Is that supposed to be a joke? the number of GPU's going to stuff like litecoin is a little more than a rounding error even on AMD's books.

Re:Does AMD still matter? (1)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about 5 months ago | (#46557145)

I'd be interested in knowing the true numbers because all AMD videocards prices have gone through the roof in the last few months. As an example, the ASUS R9 270X was available for around 240$CAD in january but today it's selling for 289$CAD after a peak of 329$CAD a few weeks ago.

Re:Does AMD still matter? (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | about 5 months ago | (#46554107)

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

I don't know about today but when I bought my AMD CPU a year or two back they had the higher integer performance and the FP performance matched Intel on a price per price basis. i.e. Intel had processors with better FP performance but they cost 2x or 3x more. Not worth the trouble when most FP intensive applications have been changing to use GPGPU acceleration.

Re:Does AMD still matter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46555739)

The total console market is relatively small, combine that with the fact they are using low end cheap AMD CPU's I don't think AMD will be garnering a lot of profit out of the consoles, though any profit is better than none.

As for your ridiculous comments on stock price and profits. AMD have suffered MASSIVELY from there loses, The company as a whole is worth a fraction of its peak 10 years ago. You sound like one of the Sony Fanboi's, they also love to ignore the massive financial trouble that company is in.

Re:Does AMD still matter? (1)

Kjella (173770) | about 5 months ago | (#46554881)

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

Re:Does AMD still matter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46554893)

Who walks into a computer shop? Is there such a thing in existence? I just use newegg or amazon. So much cheaper, I get free 2 day shipping on amazon. I bought a mouse for my mom from microcenter or whatever a couple years back because she needed one *that* day.

I bought my laptop from adorama. It has an amd a8 that lets me play almost every game I want. I played bioshock start to finish and it worked just fine. The laptop cost $400. It's a gaming laptop for half or 1/3rd the price of the supposed gaming laptops.

I would almost assume you meant professional server stuff.... but you said "computer shop" so I assume you mean your average home user. The most intensive app a home user is going to stick their computer with is a game.

My last pc had an AMD inside that I picked out as well. Worked like a dream, played all the games I threw at it ... and cost me half as much as the lowest intel cpu at the time.

Re:Does AMD still matter? (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | about 5 months ago | (#46555417)

Yep

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

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

An icore7 extreme with a non crippled bios would of nearly trippled the freaking price. Nvidia was pricing graphics cards at $1,000 before the latest Radeons x290 outperformed them for half the price. This was before the Crypto minners rose the price up to $700 but still.

Right now ATT/AMD makes great value oriented solutions for cheapskates with the $499 walmart special since the gpu runs candy crush in Metro really well and basic office needs. I use the more powerful cpu;s.

As for shops. Hairyfeet here uses them at his shop exclusively due to value and price as he would ahve to charge more for his users. The vast majority of users are not yuppie gamers who make $70,000 a year nor advanced workstation cad engineers or video editors who want an icore7 extreme. For the secretary or grandma they are the best value.

I do however admit my system is showing it's age :-( Skyrim is not the best on ultra settings even with the recent video card. I would not want to play the latest Crysis either on this. But SWTOR, WOW, office, and VMWare workstation still work fine after I put in SSD pro drives and 16 gigs of ram.Cheap hardware virtualization rocks.

This approach has been tried before (1)

Black Art (3335) | about 5 months ago | (#46553751)

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

Re:This approach has been tried before (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46553841)

The X community doesn't even use the GPL. The situation is not as simple as linking non-GPL code directly to the kernel.

Re:This approach has been tried before (1)

Ynot_82 (1023749) | about 5 months ago | (#46553949)

The Radeon driver is under MIT, not GPL.

Re:This approach has been tried before (1)

Rich0 (548339) | about 5 months ago | (#46554867)

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

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

As far as I'm aware no court has ruled on this either way. It would be interesting to see how this goes.

You probably cannot safely use the GCC compiler (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46555679)

The terms of both the GPL and the LGPL can be (according to my lawyer) interpreted to taint anything they touch (depending on how a judge reads them). The simple fact is that NONE of the code you write in C or C++ actually makes it into your binaries. The ones and zeros that comprise your binaries were copied into "your" object files NOT from your source code but rather from Mr. Stallman's compiler and linker. Your binary files can, therefore, be viewed as very complex derivatives of HIS code, or at the very least as having been linked with thousands (millions?) of fragments of his GPL'd compiler and linker programs. If the judge sees things this way, then even using the GNU tools taints your stuff and gives control of it to Mr. Stallman. If the judge sees things even slightly this way, then even dynamically linking to LGPL files is unsafe. This could have all been made explicitly clear by clear language in those licenses but the authors of those licenses intentionally did NOT add that clarity... there's NOTHING in those licenses that acknowledges the binary data produced by compilation and linking as originating in the compiler/linker and releases any legal liability for binary code thus produced. Stallman and his friends know this is how the binary code is produces, but they include NO language to resolve the issue. Indeed, I have been advised that the text of the LGPL is so self-contradictory (indicating that it's both safe and unsafe to "link" without being clear enough to illuminate lawyers) that it is more dangerous than the GPL.

Computer people tend to forget that most judges and lawyers are not coders, and "the law" is very complex and not always tethered to "common sense". If you think you are safe with the GPL and the LGPL you probably also do not believe "patent trolls" exist.

Re:You probably cannot safely use the GCC compiler (1)

BanHammor (2587175) | about 5 months ago | (#46556041)

I think there were rather understandable exceptions to "tainting everything it touches". Like the Runtime Exception, seen here: http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gc... [gnu.org]

Phoronix must have juicy drivers (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46553753)

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

It only makes sense. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46553817)

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

Re:It only makes sense. (1)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about 5 months ago | (#46557179)

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

Do you like to pull numbers from your ass?

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

Same'ol firmware separated from kernel module appr (1)

sgt scrub (869860) | about 5 months ago | (#46553971)

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

Re:Same'ol firmware separated from kernel module a (5, Informative)

raxx7 (205260) | about 5 months ago | (#46554173)

Not sure what you're thinking..

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

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

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

Phoronix... sigh. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46554027)

As I've been Linux user for a while now, and am well aware of the articles that Phoronix put out on their god-awful website, is there a particular reason that AMD and other companies seem to cater to them on this front? As far as I can tell, they don't do much that's special other than being an announcement portal of sorts. If their claim to fame is just the latest 'bleeding edge' of graphics support for games on the Linux desktop and slapping it up on an advertised site, I guess I get it. If they're target audience is Linux desktop rookies pontificating of about framerates while waiting for the dev's to up the performance, they seem to have hit the mark. I'll admit, there was a time early on, pre in kernel radeon and AMD doc's share that they hit the mark on a few articles, but since then, I don't see them contributing much that's new to the conversation. I just don't see them doing much more than what you would find several thousand Linux users doing with their various dists. to squeeze more out of the graphics front. I guess they just have the name recognition. I can't be the only one who has heard them referred to as Moronix. Am I?

Maybe it's their hideous website. Maybe it's the ho-hum web illusion that they're an analysis site. Maybe it's just me. It just seems like they get special treatment for, well, not being special.

/This isn't a troll, I didn't RTFA, and I'll probably never go to their site again. Just a perspective...

VIA? (1)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about 5 months ago | (#46554189)

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

Re:VIA? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46556151)

Not really, but since the C7 they have come up with a quad-core Isaiah architecture CPU and the VN1000 north bridge with DX10 support.

Nice, if now they only fixed their driver's issues (1)

Agram (721220) | about 5 months ago | (#46555167)

...I would put a lot more trust in this development. Things like hangs and inability to standby (5+ year old problem) or more recently brightness control that worked until approx 14 months ago and since then was never (fully) fixed [askubuntu.com] despite dozens of bug reports [cchtml.com] . I mean, this is a simple matter of comparing the code for brightness between the version 14+ months ago and the latest one to figure out what is the problem and then fixing it once and for all... Instead, they announce "fix" for it in two consecutive versions, neither of which address the problem in its entirety, and consider it fixed... Yes, some will argue open-sourcing this may help fix things faster. My experience tells me otherwise whenever you have this level if incompetence involved, because after all it is that same incompetence that will drive the separation of open and closed components... Downvote or not, I would love to be proven wrong so that I can finally install a fglrx driver that actually works as it should.

Re:Nice, if now they only fixed their driver's iss (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46556609)

Amen. Fingers crossed.

A car analogy. (1)

gukin (14148) | about 5 months ago | (#46555449)

Intel is akin to a Toyota Camry as AMD is a Scion FR-S. On the Camry side of things, presuming the Camry has a V-6, it'll utterly smoke the FR-S, in the quarter mile and 0-60, it's much more practical, room for six and a big roomy trunk. The FR-S is less expensive but less practical, sits lower, a much smaller trunk a non-existent back seat and has proven to be much less reliable. Then again, the FR-S is a zooty two-door, rear wheel drive, and an utter hoot to drive, while the Camry is . . . a Camry.

Having just purchased an AMD Kaveri A10-7850, I've been having fun playing with the newness of the chip, yeah, sensors don't work, the Radeon (ATI) drive is butt-slow and Catalyst is in beta. Still I'm pretty sure that Kaveri has more under the hood than is initally obvious. For Radeon cards in the 4000,5000,6000 range, the open-source driver is neck and neck with the proprietary Catalyst driver. The 7000-8000 R7, R8 series has a ways to go for now but if those two drivers can start sharing more, everyone wins.

Just to let everyone know, my new Kavei is about as fast as my Intel Core I7-920 in most things and faster in others. As for gaming, I'm a Linux weenie, how many AAA games that really stress a GPU are even available (yet?) for Linux. Yes my gaming system is an Intel I7 and an nVidia 660 TI video card while my play system is my new Kaveri. I enjoy playing with Linux, trying out the bleeding versions of Mesa and the latest x11-driver-video-ati but if I'm going to waste time playing games in Windows, it had better "just work".

Intel needs AMD to keep from being a monopoly so instead of bashing either company, embrace them both, it is a nerd thing after all.

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