Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Open-Source R500 Driver Released

The very first (and very rudimentary) open-source Xorg driver for the ATI Radeon X1000 "R500" series has been released! However, before downloading it, this driver only contains code to initialize and set video modes on the Radeon X1300 to X1600 graphics cards. RandR 1.2 support for the R500 driver is being worked on and may surface shortly. Their current road-map is for getting the Radeon X1600 to X1900 series initialize using this driver, add the RandR 1.2 support, add simple 2D acceleration, work on R500 3D reverse engineering, and implement TTM DRM for memory management. Today's first open-source driver release for the R500 series is available through git on As this driver progresses we will provide additional information and ultimately benchmarks. The release announcement can be read on the Xorg list.
Great to hear that something is being done about the horrible state of ATI Linux drivers! Although the drivers won't be bringing you the latest and greatest 3D acceleration, this is a very important step towards full ATI card support in Linux. As it stands, cards from the X1300 series up to the X1600 work:
The code released today is able to initialise and set video modes on rv515 and rv530 (X1300 up to X1600); we still lack proper initialisation for r520 & r580 (X1800 and above, some X1600) because of lack of time and hardware.
On the roadmap:
  • Find out missing bits for r520 and r580 hardware initialisation
  • RandR 1.2 support with a dumb memory allocator
  • Simple 2D acceleration (we will put more focus on 3D acceleration as now Xorg provides infrastructure to best utilise 3D drivers to display the desktop, thanks to the Glucose interface)
  • 3D reverse engineering: We believe that this engine is very similar to the r300 3D engine which has already mostly been reverse engineered
  • TTM DRM driver for proper memory management
  • and likely port the driver to new DRM modesetting work.
Sounds good! I can't wait until ATI cards are once again viable options when using Linux. I had been eying the X1650PRO for a while, as it often delivers superior performance to nVidia's 7900GS. However, I guess I'll wait for a 8800GTS :-)

Once again, read the official release announcement on the Xorg list.

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