11.4: Issues with Intel Sandybridge graphics driver - i915 (i7-2620M)

Can somebody more experienced advice me on this topic please?

I installed SuSE 11.4 x86_64 on Lenovo x220 containing Intel 2620M (aka Sandybridge) CPU about week ago. Kernel is

My attempts focussed mainly on reading various forums and trying to locate newer driver version - possibly due to lack of my X related knowledge - I failed to locate any leads.

  1. I’m really lucky because I could login to KDE right after the vanilla install with no trouble whatsoever
  2. KDE/linux (power off is needed to recover) reliably crashes after a while in KDE with enabled Desktop effects - this I solved by disabling Desktop effects
  3. I see very high load when playing flash video and there are really strong tiling/overlay artefacts - it is almost not usable (example: playing content directly from news.google.com)
  4. X11 performance is really bad (unusable) in some applications most likely relating to transparency and/or overlay - the desktops gets really unusable X11 fully loading the CPU - example selecting image region (transparent shade with yellow border) there is about 5 seconds lag after mouse events, some events are even miss registered. Though I admit that this might be hard to reproduce exactly without installing the same commercial application.

Anybody can advice me where to focus my search for solution please?

Thanks, T

Reference item-3 and item-4, next time you get the overlay effects, try this work around: Press <CTRL><ALT><F2> (which will bring to a full screen text login), do NOT log in but rather immediately press <CTRL><ALT><F7>. Does that help ?

Also, ensure you have updated the xorg-x11-driver-video rpm in openSUSE-11.4 as that has the xf86-video-intel 2.15.0 driver inside.

I forgot to mention that full KDE startup is over minute which I’d consider really slow.

I’m using following:
zypper search --details xorg-x11-driver
Loading repository data…
Reading installed packages…

S | Name | Type | Version | Arch | Repository
i | xorg-x11-driver-input | package | 7.6-29.1 | x86_64 | openSUSE-11.4-Oss
v | xorg-x11-driver-input | package | 7.6-29.1 | i586 | openSUSE-11.4-Oss
| xorg-x11-driver-input-devel | package | 7.6-29.1 | x86_64 | openSUSE-11.4-Oss
| xorg-x11-driver-input-devel | package | 7.6-29.1 | i586 | openSUSE-11.4-Oss
i | xorg-x11-driver-video | package | 7.6-53.56.1 | x86_64 | Updates for openSUSE 11.4 11.4-0
v | xorg-x11-driver-video | package | 7.6-52.4 | x86_64 | openSUSE-11.4-Oss
v | xorg-x11-driver-video | package | 7.6-53.56.1 | i586 | Updates for openSUSE 11.4 11.4-0
v | xorg-x11-driver-video | package | 7.6-52.4 | i586 | openSUSE-11.4-Oss
| xorg-x11-driver-video | srcpackage | 7.6-53.56.1 | noarch | Updates for openSUSE 11.4 11.4-0
i | xorg-x11-driver-video | patch | 4408 | noarch | Updates for openSUSE 11.4 11.4-0
i | xorg-x11-driver-video-32bit | package | 7.6-53.56.1 | x86_64 | Updates for openSUSE 11.4 11.4-0
v | xorg-x11-driver-video-32bit | package | 7.6-52.4 | x86_64 | openSUSE-11.4-Oss
i | xorg-x11-driver-video-intel-legacy | package | 2.9.1-8.1 | x86_64 | openSUSE-11.4-Oss
v | xorg-x11-driver-video-intel-legacy | package | 2.9.1-8.1 | i586 | openSUSE-11.4-Oss
| xorg-x11-driver-video-ivtv | package | 1.1.1-7.1 | x86_64 | openSUSE-11.4-Oss
| xorg-x11-driver-video-ivtv | package | 1.1.1-7.1 | i586 | openSUSE-11.4-Oss
i | xorg-x11-driver-video-nouveau | package | 0.0.16_20110115_b795ca6-3.1 | x86_64 | openSUSE-11.4-Oss
v | xorg-x11-driver-video-nouveau | package | 0.0.16_20110115_b795ca6-3.1 | i586 | openSUSE-11.4-Oss
i | xorg-x11-driver-video-radeonhd | package | 1.3.0_20100512_80ba041-2.1 | x86_64 | openSUSE-11.4-Oss
v | xorg-x11-driver-video-radeonhd | package | 1.3.0_20100512_80ba041-2.1 | i586 | openSUSE-11.4-Oss
| xorg-x11-driver-video-unichrome | package | 20091206-9.1 | x86_64 | openSUSE-11.4-Oss
| xorg-x11-driver-video-unichrome | package | 20091206-9.1 | i586 | openSUSE-11.4-Oss

I’m not sure how to check what is the version of xf86-video-intel 2.15.0 driver inside. Can you please advice me how to do that?

Thanks again

The CTRL+ALT+F2 & Ctrl+Alt+F7 trick - works. However strange it seems it does cut the CPU activity and returns control. Not very convenient in image editing though. :slight_smile:

Take a look at this thread Intel Graphics Drivers … in particular post #6, #10, #11 and #26 of mine.

Now in the OSS repository is the ‘stock’ xorg-x11-driver-video-7.6-52.4 which was updated to xorg-x11-video-7.6-53.56.1 (which is flagged as ‘i’ in the zypper search results you provided). If you read those posts in the thread I asked you to look at you will see in post#26 that the updated xorg-x11-video-7.6-53.56.1 rpm offers:

Distribution: openSUSE 11.4
* Fri Apr 15 2011 sndirsch-at-novell.com
- xf86-video-intel-gen6-Invalidate-texture-cache.patch
  * fixes partial screen distortion on Sandybridge visible in KDE
    (bnc #680921, bfo #35808)

* Wed Apr 13 2011 James.Bottomley-at-suse.de
- xf86-video-intel-damage-fix.diff
  * upstream commit da990536eca09c6de74627541cd56ecfad925eda
    uxa: Undo damage translation before appending
  * our bugzilla 666704
  * freedesktop bugzilla https://bugs.freedesktop.org/show_bug.cgi?id=32734

and it explains how to get that information. So there were some Sandybridge updates in the latest xorg-x11-driver-video rpm, which however does NOT include the Intel 2.15 driver.

If it were me, and I wanted to update to the Intel-2.15 driver, I would check the tumbleweed on openSUSE and see if the tumbleweed repository


has the latest xorg-x11-driver-video rpm and check if it has the Intel-2.15 driver.

Unfortunately that driver is NOT there yet, so if you want to try the Intel-2.15 you would need to take a risk with the possibly unstable X11 repository for openSUSE-11.4


and I know from experience that sometimes rpms from that repository will irreparably break one’s install, requiring a complete re-install, so one takes their chances.

As I noted in the quoted thread above that the X11 repository does have an rpm with that 2.15 Intel driver.

Don’t forget, when brushing up on one’s basic openSUSE GNU/Linux graphic card practical theory to look at this guide (especially the various links in the index) : openSUSE Graphic Card Practical Theory Guide for Users

The fact IMHO is GNU/Linux ALWAYS lags MS-Windows SIGNIFICANTLY for video drivers, and the GNU/Linux Intel graphic drivers are significantly late in coming and what you are seeing with your relatively new hardware is a symptom of that. IMHO thats the simple bad news that comes with being a GNU/Linux user.

Please don’t shoot the messenger here.

Do you have this problem with image editing ?

I see that effect with proprietary nVidia drivers with Firefox and flash video but I do NOT see it with image editing with KDEnlive.

What makes you think that has anything to do with the graphics ? I assume you think it does (have to do with graphics) because you have posted that in a thread entitled “11.4 : Issues with Sandybridge graphics driver”.

Further to this, how about telling us what is taking so long to boot ? You are the one who has that information (we don’t have it). Now unfortunately this is NOT intuitively obvious to figure out, so to help you, please look at post #9 and #19 in this thead: OpenSuSE 11.4 review

Hopefully that helps you get a better handle on this.

Good luck !

Thank you very much for “tone of” advice. It will take me a while to read it through …

Right now I can clarify a few things:

  • slow KDE start - It seems gfx driver related - I was watching it on the shell - it is X11 constrained the same way as my other issues. Also your Ctrl+Alt+Fx & Ctrl+Alt+F7 trick works here cutting the KDE start time from 1+minute to less than 15 seconds.
  • Image editing - image editing tasks are where I’m the most affected by this graphics driver problem. I do not use KDEnlive … I’m using specialized single purpose commercial application + OSS stack Gimp, raw editors, HDR stuff, etc… anyway it uses similar features as destop effects due to layered editing. Though the most important for me - I should not have mentioned it. My apology - it will only be distracting from the real subject which is equally visible/repeatable in web browser & flash video.
  • I’m aware of Linux vs. Windows gfx performance lag - I experience it every day for about 13+ years - this case is not just lag - this is broken driver and I do not have the choice to use discrete graphics (as I’d do on desktop) as this is laptop. I’ll wait little longer before starting to think that AMD fusion might be better choice than Intel Sandybridge for ultramobile laptops. Obviously not all companies have equally useful products at the release date, and Intel is known for it - It is now 4-5 months from announced release date in January …

I note in this Phoronix article on Mesa-7.11 Release Candidate version:
[Phoronix] Mesa 7.11 Release Candidate 1 Arrives](http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=news_item&px=OTY1MA)
there is supposed to be some improved Intel DRI driver speed-ups and much improved Sandy Bridge support. There will also be Initial Intel Ivy Bridge support (the successor to Sandy Bridge).

I’m hoping that we will see this in openSUSE-12.1 (but that is just my hope on this subject).

So I own an Intel(R) Core™ i7-2600K CPU @ 3.40GHz, also part of the Sandy Bridge release and I did try the built-in Graphics under openSUSE 11.4. I did update Mesa to the highest version that comes with openSUSE 11.4 and even updated the kernel to 2.6.39. I did get both 2D and 3D support working, but it was prone to locking up the PC, particularly when I did anything with openGL. It is hard to say now just how well openSUSE 12.1 will deal with Sandy Bridge graphics in the future, but it will surely be better than now. In the end, I just switched to a nVIDIA video GPU and left the Sandy Bridge graphic experience behind me. However, I will give it another try when openSUSE 12.1 and kernel 3.0 go final release and see what we get. Hopefully, the new Mesa will be there as well to use.

Thank You,

I have an i3 Sandy Bridge and quite happy with it. Admittedly I’ve had a couple of glitches (simple lock-ups with everything frozen) but very very intermittently and I’m not even sure that Intel video was to blame. From memory, it seems that Amarok was always involved (running in the background) si I stopped leaving Amarok running when not required and I don’t think I’ve had a lockup since.

Phoronix have an article that the 3.1 GNU/Linux kernel is anticipated to have superior Sandybridge support. Now we likely will not see the 3.1 in openSUSE-12.1 but we may see it in Tumbleweed-12.1 and openSUSE-12.2. Phoronix article is here: [Phoronix] Intel Sandy Bridge Speeds Up On Linux 3.1 Kernel](http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=article&item=intel_snb_linux31&num=1) where Phornoix note:

For the Intel DRM graphics driver in the Linux kernel there is frame-buffer compression clean-ups, high color support, ring frequency scaling, shared LLC support, and hang-check module disabling. Compared to the Linux 3.0 kernel, the driver improvements significantly boost the open-source graphics performance for Intel Sandy Bridge hardware.

I also note improvements in Mesa are anticipated to improve Sandybridge support from this Phoronix article: [Phoronix] Mesa 7.11 Brings Much-Needed Linux Graphics Driver Improvements](http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=article&item=mesa_711&num=1) which notes:

  • Mature Intel Sandy Bridge support. The Intel Sandy Bridge (HD 3000) graphics support has been improved a lot since its January launch. Intel SNB graphics are much faster and more stable in Mesa 7.11, as a number of Phoronix articles have shown in recent months.

… however that is earmarked for Mesa-7.11 and even though just released, I am skeptical that will make openSUSE-12.1 and we may need to wait for openSUSE-12.2. Because of the potential impact of a Mesa update on Tumbleweed, I would be a bit skeptical if we see Tumbleweed-12.1 having a different Mesa version than openSUSE-12.1.

Given that my wife has just ordered a Lenovo X220 netbook (she hopes to pick it up in September) I am becoming optimistic that the Sandbridge chipset in her soon to own Lenovo should work ok with GNU/Linux.

I just stumbled across the blog hosted on the Intel site: Sandybridge on Linux - it will be an absolute joy!](http://blogs.intel.com/technology/2011/01/sandybridge_on_linux_-_it_will.php) where basically they caution that even though updated driver/packages are available for GNU/Linux for Sandybridge, because of the way in which GNU/Linux distributions are structured with their various release cycles, and because of the dependencies associated with any update to the Intel driver (such Linux software components called ‘Mesa’, the kernel, ‘libdrm’, ‘cairo’, ‘libva’ and ‘x86-video-intel’ ) there is a MASSIVE lead time before such updates make it to the end user.

Ergo one is looking at either waiting, or going down the potentially unstable path of self compiling such packages.

There is a MASSIVE thread on Sandybridge here: Real World Technologies - Forums and even Linus participated in that thread !