Linux driver support for ATI HD 6850

The AMD tool ATI Catalyst does not provide Linux support for the ATI HD 6850. Running the tool allows the monitor to display in 1080P. However, it results in a watermark stating the hardware isn’t supported.

Is there an open source driver that will support this card?

Can the Windows driver be co-opted for Linux?

When will there be an open source driver to support video cards?

I’d suggest you upgrade your xorg to the one in the XOrg factory repo, or the one from your distro. Since the XOrg repo for, my currently used, openSUSE 11.3 almost has the same packages.

It should support your card with KMS. Not everything is supported yet (like S3TC decompression), but it should get you going in the meanwhile as long as you don’t try to play some advanced 3D gaming.

I’ve seen that watermark already with the ATI driver from the repo which is often outdated. If this is the one you installed, use the atiupgrade script to install the latest driver. The latest version is available in post #42 of this thread: Upgrading ATI driver with atiupgrade. The whole installation process is described in post #23]( Just pay attention that the latest Catalyst version is 11.1. But you don’t have to worry about that if you run the script in post #42, which automatically downloads and installs the latest driver version.
If however you already have the latest Catalyst version, it won’t help.

There is a thread on the HD 6850 on Phoronix. It appears this card is so new that getting it to work with Linux is not trivial
How to use xf86-video-ati with HD6850 (with KMS)

From what I can read, neither the proprietary nVidia ‘fglrx’ driver (as of mid-January) nor the ‘radeon’ open source driver packaged in openSUSE-11.3, supported the card. I have yet to see a release note for the 11.1 Catalyst driver (fglrx) so I don’t know if it would work.

The phoronix thread I quoted suggested that with some difficulty, it may be possible to get the open source radeon driver working.

I recommend you download a 64-bit openSUSE-11.4 RC1 liveCD (KDE or Gnome) and boot with that to see where your PC stands wrt using the more recent openSUSE release (to be released in March, but pretty close to being frozen). Check to see if that will work. Its an easy test. My guess is it won’t work, but I would be pleased to learn I guessed wrong.

Support for the HD 6xxx series is starting to show up in Mesa:

but those commits are fairly new and may not be in openSUSE-11.4 (and hence a future update from openSUSE factory may be needed).

In summary, my view is it ‘may’ be possible to get an HD6850 working with radeon, but its not for the ‘faint of heart’ and there will likely be a lot of time wasted with lots of frustration. One may also need to wait some months for ATI proprietary Catalyst driver support for Linux. I suspect the ‘vesa’ and ‘fbdev’ drivers will work with this card, but then one does not purchase an ATI HD 6850 to use the low performance VESA/FBDEV drivers.

The Phoronix forum has hacks in which one can apply to remove the watermark. But one would need to search to find one (hack) that works … Possibly this thread: Catalyst 11.1, 6870 still unsupported?
… where they ran the script:

 for x in $(objdump -d $DRIVER|awk '/call/&&/EnableLogo/{print "\\x"$2"\\x"$3"\\x"$4"\\x"$5"\\x"$6}'); do
 sed -i "s/$x/\x90\x90\x90\x90\x90/g" $DRIVER

… but I have never done that, so you would need to join the Phoronix forum to get support/help there (IMHO).

Interesting. The code below would back up the file first and work on both 32 and 64 bit systems:


DRIVER=`find /usr/*/xorg/modules/drivers -name ""`
cp $DRIVER{,.bak}
for x in $(objdump -d $DRIVER|awk '/call/&&/EnableLogo/{print "\\x"$2"\\x"$3"\\x"$4"\\x"$5"\\x"$6}'); do
   sed -i "s/$x/\x90\x90\x90\x90\x90/g" $DRIVER

It applies the changes. I don’t know if it makes the watermark disappear (not having that problem).

I should have clarified, … if you look at the quoted links of recent commits to “Mesa”, you will read that those commits are to add support for the NI (Northern Islands) GPU. If you search on google for the NI (Northern Islands) GPU you will obtain this hit: Northern Islands (GPU family) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia which states

The Northern Islands series is a family of GPUs developed by AMD graphics products division. …


Radeon HD 6800

Codenamed Barts, the mid-range GPUs Radeon HD 6800 series was released on October 22, 2010. Products include Radeon HD 6850 and Radeon HD 6870. Barts uses shaders of the same 5-way VLIW architecture as HD 5000 series.

Radeon HD 6900

This family includes two different high-end products. …

… and according to Mesa FAQ Mesa is :

1.1 What is Mesa?

Mesa is an open-source implementation of the OpenGL specification. OpenGL is a programming library for writing interactive 3D applications. See the OpenGL website for more information.

Mesa 6.x supports the OpenGL 1.5 specification.