New Drivers and BIOS Plans for ATI Graphics Cards

Oct 26, 2007

It was good news across the board for ATI graphics card owners with AMD deciding to go for a free driver and immediately delivering the goods. Now the proprietary Linux driver, Fglrx 8.42.3, has been released, and it promises various improvements.

The new ATI graphics driver supports Compiz, Beryl and Compiz Fusion with or without XGL. The driver has new code for AIGLX support. It uses the server up to version 1.4. Thanks to the TexturedVideo playback feature Fglrx 8.42.3 is said to have vastly improved video support on top of generally improved performance.

But there’s one thing the driver can’t do: it doesn’t support the current 2.6.23 Linux kernel, although an update promises to close the gap. The current release is available for the R300 through R600 series cards, but doesn’t support ATI’s FireGL models. The driver installer and release notes for Fglrx 8.42.3 are available for downloading from the ATI support pages.

Developer Oliver McFadden published plans hack the ATI graphics card BIOS in his blog: “I've been thinking about doing some reverse engineering of AtomBIOS, the BIOS used on newer Radeon cards; R500, R600, etc. Ultimately I'd like to create a free software (GPL) replacement BIOS for at least one Radeon card .” The aim is to improve ATI card performance on Linux. If he’s successful, McFadden will be releasing the BIOS under the GPL.

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