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AMD adds open source driver support for next card launch

Good, bad or indifferent?

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Ahead of the launch of its Radon HD 8800 graphics cards, AMD has put drivers for the cards into the open source world via the Mesa graphics library.

Noticed by Phoronix, the driver is simply described as a candidate for the Mesa 9.1 branch, adding support for Oland chips, and is signed off by AMD’s Alex Deucher.

The HD 8800 GPUs are due to ship in Q2 2013.

The Phoronix author, Michael Larabel, has greeted the information with what is at best a muted welcome, describing the release as a “trivial” addition to an inadequate open source driver stack: “the open-source Radeon HD 7000 "Southern Islands" support is still a mess and the Sea Islands support is just building upon that”.

That author also criticised AMD’s OpenGL support (which only reaches version 3.0), a lack of other features, and limited Unified Video Decoder support. Moreover, since Mesa 9.1 is being developed to support the Linux 3.9 kernel, most Linux distributions due for launch during the first half of this year will be on the 3.8 kernel.

“Unless … vendors end up back-porting the initial HD 8000 Linux series support to the older kernel (at least the Mesa changes are candidates for next month's release of Mesa 9.1), most users will have to wait until H2'2013 for reliable HD 8000 series open-source support,” the story notes.

It should be noted that Phoronix’s criticism of AMD open source drivers has a long history. The same description was applied to December’s driver commits, when AMD added full 2D acceleration for the 7000 series cards. ®

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