Tuesday, July 17, 2007

ATI Linux Drivers Suck

The state of ATI graphics on Linux is just miserable. I am not an Open Source purist. I can accept the use of proprietary software if it does it's job. But when the graphics chip on my new computer (X1270) runs slower than the one on my old computer (IGP320), it is just too much to take. I would advise anyone who wishes to game on their computers in Linux, to stay away from ATI graphics chips. Stick to NVIDIA graphics. Although they have proprietary drivers, at least their drivers don't suck. ATI sucks for several reasons:

  1. DVD playback is a joke.
    The state of ATI proprietary Linux drivers is a joke. DVD playback is faster on software rendering than it is with hardware accelerated rendering. I have tested this by specifying different video output devices. On hardware acceleration mode, the video is choppy and there are visible tears on full screen mode. In software mode, playback is smooth.
  2. OpenGL performance is retarded.
    With the proprietary drivers, running the default glxgears benchmarking utility, I am currently getting about 150 FPS. On my old computer with the open source drivers, I can get about 250 FPS. This is totally retarded. ATI drivers just suck big time.
I know that the current graphics chip that I have is way better than my old one. It is based on the R400 (4th gen) core while my old one was based on the R100 (1st gen) core. The current one uses DDR2 memory while the old one used only DDR1 memory. The current hardware is much better in all ways. It's just that the ATI drivers are screwed up.

There are Open Source (avivo) drivers being developed for the newest ATI chips, which includes this one. It has got 2D acceleration working but 3D acceleration is still being developed. So, it's no good for gaming at the moment. Hopefully, things will improve in the near future.

For the moment, ATI are well aware of the user complaints. They have promised, that they are working on the situation. There are plenty of rumours suggesting that a new driver architecture is being developed for the next major driver release. With the growing adoption of Linux, ATI will hopefully work out a new Open Source strategy.

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