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The Direction Of ATI Radeon Graphics In Ubuntu 11.04

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With Ubuntu 11.04 arriving in a little more than a month, the key packages to be found in this "Natty Narwhal" release are nearly settled. For those concerned about the open-source ATI graphics stack, the packages to note are the Linux 2.6.38 kernel, Mesa 7.10.1, and xf86-video-ati 6.14.0. What does this mean for the conventional user? This article provides a brief look at the state of open-source ATI in Ubuntu 11.04.

Ubuntu 11.04 has the Linux 2.6.38 kernel, which means all of the Radeon DRM (Direct Rendering Manager) improvements we have talked about in recent weeks and months will be found in the default Natty kernel. Among other features, this includes the KMS page-flipping support, Radeon HD 6000 series KMS support (Northern Islands; pre-HD-6900 series ASICs), AMD Fusion KMS support, and the DRM bits needed to support Wayland on Radeon. The page-flipping support in particular is noteworthy as it can lead to some serious performance improvements. What is not in the Natty kernel at this time, since it is not in the mainline 2.6.38 tree, is AMD Radeon HD 6900 series KMS support for these Cayman GPUs.

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