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Testing Out AMD's DRI2 Driver Stack

May 14, 2009, 12:03 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Wil Reichert)

[ Thanks to Michael Larabel for this link. ]

"Anyone who has read Phoronix at all within the last year will have noticed several graphics related acronyms constantly popping up such as DRM, DRI, Mesa, and Direct Rendering. More recently, things like KMS, GEM, DRI2, and Gallium3D have become ever more prevalent. These are all elements of the software stack that makes video hardware work in Linux. This software is contained in the kernel as well as across several different libraries and drivers. Specifically they are:

The Kernel - provides low-level access to the hardware

libdrm - user-space component that provides hardware acceleration via the kernel

Mesa - 3D rendering library

X Driver - Provides accelerated 2D and video

"You see the question posed on mailing lists and forums all the time 'is card XYZ supported?' It is usually not a straightforward answer. Firstly - any card in recent history will run with the vesa X driver, so by default the answer is yes. Granted you get no accelerated 2D or 3D and performance will be reminiscent of that 486 you still have in your garage. You may also end up mode-setting to a lower resolution than your panel's native mode. Secondly - Due to the fact that the X driver and mesa are completely separate pieces of software, it quite possible to have accelerated 2D performance but no accelerated 3D. This is the current state of the R600-R700 cards, 3D support will hopefully be coming in the near future. Thirdly - usually what people mean by this question is will Quake/Doom/whatever run, i.e. is 3D working. Assuming proper support is in place at every level for your specific hardware then your games will be blazing fast, otherwise you will be looking at a CPU rendered slideshow."

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