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AMD releases open source Linux driver to support Southern Islands GPUs

Better late than never
Wed Mar 21 2012, 12:42

CHIP DESIGNER AMD has published open source drivers that support its latest Radeon HD 7000 series graphics cards.

AMD said it will complement its closed source Catalyst drivers with open source versions for Linux users. Although the firm's open source efforts lag considerably behind its Catalyst drivers, AMD's Alex Deucher announced that the firm's latest open source driver release supports its Southern Islands GPUs found in Radeon HD 7000 series graphics cards.

Although AMD does release closed source Catalyst drivers for Linux, developers have been crying out for both AMD and Nvidia to open source their drivers to enable better developer community support. AMD's announcement also brings up the possibility of 'official' AMD graphics drivers being included as part of the Linux kernel source code, which will mean a better out of the box experience for Linux users.

AMD's 48 patches in this driver release also include support for the firm's Trinity APU, which is perhaps more important given its mainstream push.

For AMD and Nvidia, open sourcing Linux drivers is mostly about increasing support for commercial uses such as CAD, CAM and 3D modeling workloads that are typical on workstations. While performance might be questionable at the moment, both firms need to reduce delays between closed source and open source driver releases. µ


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