Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 13

Thread: The open-source radeon(hd) driver and 3D games

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Romania, Bucharest
    Posts
    698

    Default The open-source radeon(hd) driver and 3D games

    This is a discussion I've been having for months, but I'm still confused on the matter. Hopefully someone can shed light here once and for all, and explain the situation properly.

    To start with the beginning: There are two major graphics card brands, Nvidia and ATI / AMD. Under Windows, most people use the official proprietary driver of each brand. Under Linux, there's a choice for both: The Linux version of the proprietary driver, and the open source driver created by the community with support from other companies and chipset documentation. For Nvidia, that open source driver is called Nouveau, while for ATI it's called radeon or radeonhd.

    I chose to go with ATI during the last 10 years, and my desktop has a Radeon HD 6800 card while my laptop a Mobility Radeon HD 5470. So my choice is between the open-source radeon driver and the proprietary ATI driver (which has Catalyst Control Center). openSUSE detects my card and automatically installs this radeon driver, which I assume is the FOSS driver everyone is talking about. In my case however, I have to install the proprietary ATI driver instead of staying with that, which there's thankfully a functional version of on the geeko repository at this day.

    The reason is that although the open-source radeon driver runs things like desktop effects properly, nearly no 3D game will work with it. Whereas in Nvidia's case, Nouveau is said to be even faster in games than the proprietary Nvidia driver. I tried several games with the radeonhd driver pre-installed by openSUSE... some games would not start up at all (or crash the system if trying to), others would have corrupt graphics and a mess of polygons and textures all over the place, while others would start up but work at abysmal performance (2-3 FPS where the proprietary driver yelds beyond 150 FPS). Although the proprietary ATI driver makes games work well on openSUSE, I don't like it over the default one... since it has its own issues and most of all is proprietary (not nice to need a close sourced driver to play open source games on an open source OS).

    My question which remains unsolved is when / if will there be an opensource ATI driver that can run all games at full stability and acceptable performance (even if not exactly as fast as the proprietary one)? I'm hearing that the radeon driver is slowly getting to that, but last time I tried it games would barely even start up. If it's a different one than what's distributed with openSUSE, where do I get it from? What's missing from the FOSS driver, and when will it be ready? Will ATI users who play games be stuck with the proprietary driver forever? I'd like to know all info that exists on this if possible.
    openSUSE Tumbleweed x64, KDE Framework 5

  2. #2

    Default Re: The open-source radeon(hd) driver and 3D games

    Quote Originally Posted by MirceaKitsune View Post
    To start with the beginning: There are two major graphics card brands, Nvidia and ATI / AMD.
    I think you just made baby Intel cry

    Under Windows, most people use the official proprietary driver of each brand.
    Under Win, to the best of my knowledge, its a 99.999% closed source binary drivers from the official source world....there has also been fringe driver releases from those who are knowledgeable enough to somehow hack the prop. binary to provide a feature or two, typically desired by the gaming community members for enhanced performance

    Under Linux, there's a choice for both: The Linux version of the proprietary driver, and the open source driver
    its plural ... as in, the OSS drivers that can be used to, well, drive a particular graphics adapter

    created by the community with support from other companies and chipset documentation.
    in some cases there has been zero docs, zero support
    For Nvidia, that open source driver is called Nouveau
    that's one of them, albeit, pretty much the best/most capable of the lot.
    while for ATI it's called radeon or radeonhd.
    those are two of them, albeit the radeon is the best/most capable of the lot .. do note that the radeonhd is an older, effectively dead, driver.

    Also note that the entire graphics adapter driver stack is quite complicated, and is composed of several pieces, each with its own name. "radeon", "nouveau", etc are really just particular components (i.e. the DDX (Device Dependent X code)) within the stack.

    I chose to go with ATI during the last 10 years, and my desktop has a Radeon HD 6800 card while my laptop a Mobility Radeon HD 5470. So my choice is between the open-source radeon driver and the proprietary ATI driver (which has Catalyst Control Center). openSUSE detects my card and automatically installs this radeon driver, which I assume is the FOSS driver everyone is talking about
    no, that's the old radeonhd ... you want to be using the radeon driver (contained in the video-ati package... see: "man ati")

    In my case however, I have to install the proprietary ATI driver instead of staying with that, which there's thankfully a functional version of on the geeko repository at this day.

    The reason is that although the open-source radeon driver runs things like desktop effects properly, nearly no 3D game will work with it.
    as above, you are not running with the correct/modern/optimized driver

    Whereas in Nvidia's case, Nouveau is said to be even faster in games than the proprietary Nvidia driver.
    I highly doubt that

    I tried several games with the radeonhd driver pre-installed by openSUSE... some games would not start up at all (or crash the system if trying to), others would have corrupt graphics and a mess of polygons and textures all over the place, while others would start up but work at abysmal performance (2-3 FPS where the proprietary driver yelds beyond 150 FPS). Although the proprietary ATI driver makes games work well on openSUSE, I don't like it over the default one... since it has its own issues and most of all is proprietary (not nice to need a close sourced driver to play open source games on an open source OS).
    Its impossible for me to say (without other info) why the antiquated radeonhd driver is being used by default as opposed to what should be used instead; radeon. I will add, however, it is often because of user error -- i.e. installing with the nomodeset boot option.

    My question which remains unsolved is when / if will there be an opensource ATI driver that can run all games at full stability and acceptable performance (even if not exactly as fast as the proprietary one)? I'm hearing that the radeon driver is slowly getting to that, but last time I tried it games would barely even start up.If it's a different one than what's distributed with openSUSE, where do I get it from? What's missing from the FOSS driver, and when will it be ready? Will ATI users who play games be stuck with the proprietary driver forever? I'd like to know all info that exists on this if possible.
    Too many questions, not enough time. In pt. form:
    - you already have the correct driver installed on your system (see above). You only need configure your system properly to enable it. I provided a big hint about that already (i.e. get rid of the nomodeset boot option)
    - the aspect of the driver stack you are most interested in, given your adapters, is the r600g ... it is indeed improving, with many very recent code additions bringing about very healthy gains...the driver stack available to you in stock openSUSE, of course, will not feature such improvements -- you would have to switch to a recent kernel and Xorg and Mesa code bases, and enable a few variables
    - the website Phoronix quite often runs comparisons, so you should check over there to get some idea .. note that while the OSS has come a long way, and is most certainly very stable and more then plenty for the typical desktop usage, when it comes to gaming, though, in some games it is stlll blown clear out of the water by the prop driver's performance.
    - what's missing? Meas website likely provides a list of missing feature sets...
    - when will it be ready? ... well, this gets back to the biggest missing component: capable developers willing to spend the time and contribute. IOW, there is no time frame for such things. Stuff gets done when stuff gets done. As it is, the primary contributors to this "community" code has been from AMD employees paid to work on the OSS graphics stack
    - will ATI users be stuck with the prop driver forever? No, simply because ATI/AMD will drop support for your adapter in the prop. driver in the near future and then your effective choice will only be the OSS drivers.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Romania, Bucharest
    Posts
    698

    Default Re: The open-source radeon(hd) driver and 3D games

    Thank you for the very useful info, Tyler_K. There are two major questions remaining in that case... at least until I get around to testing it myself.

    Firstly, I remember now that radeonhd is dead and radeon is the name of the updated driver. In that case I didn't have the correct FOSS driver and that's probably why games wouldn't work. However, if I open Yast -> Software Management and search for "radeon", I only find the radeonhd package (xorg-x11-driver-video-radeonhd). I am however seeing the radeon driver too in software.opensuse.org (xorg-x11-driver-video-radeon). Seems that's because it's in the unstable repositories at this point, and I don't enable them by default. The description also says "Driver for ATI/AMD Radeon from 7000 to HD 5890 series", does that mean it doesn't work for my HD 6800 yet? And why isn't the driver in the stable repositories?

    Second question is if someone compared it with the proprietary ATI driver, and can say how well the games they tested work in comparison. I hope that's ok to discuss since I posted this in the Hardware thread and not the Games thread. What's the stability as well as performance in comparison? And can it be considered that the radeon driver is (or soon will be) usable for gaming?
    openSUSE Tumbleweed x64, KDE Framework 5

  4. #4

    Default Re: The open-source radeon(hd) driver and 3D games


  5. #5

    Default Re: The open-source radeon(hd) driver and 3D games

    nividia:

    Depending on your card the opensource is an option.

    [Phoronix] Clock-For-Clock, Nouveau Can Compete With NVIDIA's Driver

  6. #6

    Default Re: The open-source radeon(hd) driver and 3D games

    Quote Originally Posted by MirceaKitsune View Post
    However, if I open Yast -> Software Management and search for "radeon", I only find the radeonhd package (xorg-x11-driver-video-radeonhd).
    Already addressed above

    I am however seeing the radeon driver too in software.opensuse.org (xorg-x11-driver-video-radeon). Seems that's because it's in the unstable repositories at this point, and I don't enable them by default. The description also says "Driver for ATI/AMD Radeon from 7000 to HD 5890 series", does that mean it doesn't work for my HD 6800 yet? And why isn't the driver in the stable repositories?
    Again, the radeon driver is included in a default installation. What you have linked to is some community memeber's build of the driver. Judging by the non updated description, they started doing so ages ago. I have no idea (nor care, nor should you) from what git snapshot they have built against. Nothing to see there, move along.

    Get your native, already included, sitting-by-idle-waiting-for-you-to-envoke-it, stock radeon driver to work first. Once you do that, then you might become interested in switching to more recent builds of the various components required to run a modern/cutting edge driver stack (DDX, Mesa, DRM, kernel), found in (how shall I say it) "official" repos (as opposed to a repo provided by some guy named Bob on the other side of the internet, featuring goodness knows what "enhancements").

    Second question is if someone compared it with the proprietary ATI driver, and can say how well the games they tested work in comparison. I hope that's ok to discuss since I posted this in the Hardware thread and not the Games thread. What's the stability as well as performance in comparison? And can it be considered that the radeon driver is (or soon will be) usable for gaming?
    - the drivers run the hardware, and its (open GL) drivers performance you are specifically interested in, so I see absolutely no problem with the discussion being carried on here.
    - the radeon driver, and other components of the stack needed for your particular contemporary hardware, are stable, and have been for a long while.

  7. #7

    Default Re: The open-source radeon(hd) driver and 3D games

    Valve advises the closed source driver for 3D gaming.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Romania, Bucharest
    Posts
    698

    Default Re: The open-source radeon(hd) driver and 3D games

    @ Gps2010: Thanks for those reviews, they are interesting to look at. Seems the open-source drivers aren't too good at gaming for either card, but in Noveau's case I see it's doing better than ATI's.

    @ Tyler_K: Sadly I'm even more confused now. If the radeonhd driver is dead, and the radeon one I linked is unrelated, which is the package for the good FOSS ATI driver? The only one I see is xorg-x11-driver-video-radeonhd... is that the correct open-source radeon driver I'm looking for? If it's included in the default installation like you said that package should be it, since I see no other radeon in the repositories.

    I'm also confused by some other names and packages. First of all, why does the default radeon driver installed with openSUSE (the xorg-x11-driver-video-radeonhd) cause Gallium to print as the driver name on another openSUSE machine? What is Gallium? Then how does the Mesa driver come into all this? Is Mesa the default video driver of the X server, and the radeon one replaces it if installed? I know those are newbie questions, but I am unfamiliar with this part of Linux currently.
    openSUSE Tumbleweed x64, KDE Framework 5

  9. #9

    Default Re: The open-source radeon(hd) driver and 3D games

    When I search in yast I find:

    libdrm_radeon1
    xorg-x11-driver-video-radeonhd | Driver for AMD GPG (ATI) r5xx/r6xx Ch...

    I am getting confused about the name of that x org driver, but I think these are the right ones.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Auckland, NZ
    Posts
    19,447
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default Re: The open-source radeon(hd) driver and 3D games

    @ Tyler_K: Sadly I'm even more confused now. If the radeonhd driver is dead, and the radeon one I linked is unrelated, which is the package for the good FOSS ATI driver? The only one I see is xorg-x11-driver-video-radeonhd... is that the correct open-source radeon driver I'm looking for? If it's included in the default installation like you said that package should be it, since I see no other radeon in the repositories.
    The open source radeon kernel driver support is provided by radeon.ko (part of the kernel). The user-space support for the driver comes from the 'xf86-video-ati' package

    http://www.x.org/wiki/RadeonFeature

    More info:

    man ati
    man radeon

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast

Tags for this Thread

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •