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A line in the sand for graphics drivers

A line in the sand for graphics drivers

Posted Jul 6, 2010 11:49 UTC (Tue) by nhippi (subscriber, #34640)
Parent article: A line in the sand for graphics drivers

> Over the last few years, through a combination of openness at Intel and AMD/ATI and reverse engineering for NVIDIA, the graphics problem has mostly been solved - for desktop systems.

That is a extremely optimistic version of the Linux graphics story. While open drivers for intel,ati and nvidia exist, the window of RELIABLY working hardware is sometimes incredibly thin. Too old chip (Intel 855GM was really buggy around 2.4..2.9 versions of intel driver) and support is spotty. Too new (GMA500) and no support at all. Nouveau works really well only between NV30<->NV50. I would assume ATI has the same issue of code supporting old HW getting bitrotted and new HW support not being ready yet.

My estimate is that open graphics drivers in Linux would need at least 2-3x the current manpower to keep up with the hardware and kernel infrastructure changes.


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A line in the sand for graphics drivers

Posted Jul 6, 2010 14:35 UTC (Tue) by Cyberax (✭ supporter ✭, #52523) [Link]

"That is a extremely optimistic version of the Linux graphics story. While open drivers for intel,ati and nvidia exist, the window of RELIABLY working hardware is sometimes incredibly thin. Too old chip (Intel 855GM was really buggy around 2.4..2.9 versions of intel driver) and support is spotty."

Wow. That's old.

"Too new (GMA500) and no support at all."

New _Intel_ chips are supported just fine. GMA500 is not Intel chip, it's licensed Poulsbo hardware.

"Nouveau works really well only between NV30<->NV50."

Who cares about earlier chips? And work on the recent Fermi cards is already in progress.

"I would assume ATI has the same issue of code supporting old HW getting bitrotted and new HW support not being ready yet."

ATI even supports kernel modesetting on R200!

A line in the sand for graphics drivers

Posted Jul 6, 2010 15:45 UTC (Tue) by nix (subscriber, #2304) [Link]

ATI even supports kernel modesetting on *r100*. As far as I know, everything that uses the ati driver supports KMS now, modulo bugs. (So that means the poor 1990s-vintage mach64 users are still out of luck ;} )

A line in the sand for graphics drivers

Posted Jul 7, 2010 10:03 UTC (Wed) by nhippi (subscriber, #34640) [Link]

> everything that uses the ati driver supports KMS now, modulo bugs

Like the intel driver supports i855? modulo the bugs that made it completely lock up at random moments in recent versions of the driver (2.10 version appears stable, wont try anything newer now that I have a working setup again).

Then again, I have no ATI display adapter use experience. So it just might be the only video driver that never hangs, shows corrupted textures, has problems resuming from suspend, etc when used with too old or new hardware variants...

The too old/too new issue is also with driver versions.

1. Report a bug on driver X.
2. "Thats too old, it might be fixed in the git head"
3. compile, try, hit another issue
4. "you are running it on too old kernel, upgrade to latest kernel from the drm tree"
5. compile, try, hit some other bugs
6. "you are running the developer versions of kernel and graphics driver, of course there are some bugs."

I'm not criticizing the driver developers. There is just too few dedicated and active X driver developers compared to the amount of hardware variants that needs supporting and the complexity of graphics driver development...

A line in the sand for graphics drivers

Posted Jul 7, 2010 18:03 UTC (Wed) by nix (subscriber, #2304) [Link]

Er, that's why I said 'modulo bugs'. Given the immense amount of variation between different ATI video cards it would be astonishing if all of them worked all of the time. Nonetheless, they mostly seem to mostly work (admittedly I don't do any high-end 3D stuff: possibly that is more broken).

A line in the sand for graphics drivers

Posted Jul 8, 2010 16:26 UTC (Thu) by Thalience (subscriber, #4217) [Link]

FWIW, the Intel 8xx chips have hardware issues (related to broken cache-coherency between GPU and CPU [0]). Older versions of the driver never tried to do any memory management, so were not impacted by the hardware problems.

I have an 855-based laptop as well, and the lockups are very frustrating. But it isn't a matter of "driver bugs" so much as "failure to find a good workaround for hardware bugs".

[0] http://bugs.freedesktop.org/show_bug.cgi?id=26345#c34

A line in the sand for graphics drivers

Posted Jul 12, 2010 19:37 UTC (Mon) by tajyrink (subscriber, #2750) [Link]

>> everything that uses the ati driver supports KMS now, modulo bugs
> Like the intel driver supports i855?

No, no such chip-wide breakage in the ati land. I've r200 working fine, and r100 is reportedly also pretty ok (for the class of hardware it is) under KMS. I've also r700 with the ati driver without a hitch and more stable (that is = stable) than the proprietary driver.

A line in the sand for graphics drivers

Posted Jul 15, 2010 16:00 UTC (Thu) by nix (subscriber, #2304) [Link]

Quite. Things that I've never managed to get running before (serious work stuff like Penumbra: Overture) are finally working. When shaders work too I suspect the world will end because there is no further reason for it to exist.

A line in the sand for graphics drivers

Posted Jul 8, 2010 22:11 UTC (Thu) by Tet (subscriber, #5433) [Link]

As far as I know, everything that uses the ati driver supports KMS now, modulo bugs

I must just be unlucky, then. It seems all of my ATI cards are among those with bugs (which yes, have all been reported). I have still yet to find an ATI card with working KMS :-(

A line in the sand for graphics drivers

Posted Jul 9, 2010 17:15 UTC (Fri) by nix (subscriber, #2304) [Link]

Are yours all ATI Mobility cards? They do seem to be more iffy than mainstream desktop cards, perhaps because every laptop vendor hooks the things up differently.

(I've got a 4870, FWIW.)

A line in the sand for graphics drivers

Posted Jul 10, 2010 22:01 UTC (Sat) by glisse (guest, #44837) [Link]

Tet can you give couple of link to your bug ? Just so i can take a look at them.

A line in the sand for graphics drivers

Posted Jul 10, 2010 22:50 UTC (Sat) by Tet (subscriber, #5433) [Link]

The one for the machine I'm on at the moment is 509031, and seems to already be assigned to you. I have to boot with nomodeset in order to get a usable display.

A line in the sand for graphics drivers

Posted Jul 6, 2010 17:21 UTC (Tue) by drag (subscriber, #31333) [Link]

> GMA500 is not Intel chip, it's licensed Poulsbo hardware.

It's a PowerVR SGX design, by 'Imagination Technologies'. It's the same exact sort of thing that is giving Linux fits on hardware.

Remember the Nokia N800 and N810? Those types of chips were so troublesome that those tablets used no acceleration at all!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PowerVR

The old Intel 8xx series 'Extreme 3D Blaster' type devices used some PowerVR licensed stuff, I think, but I have no idea how much. The GMA series, up until the GMA 500 and whatever Intel is using in Moorestown, were pure Intel design.


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