04 January, 2015

AMD Radeon HD 6xxx / 7xxx / GCN

I must admit,. still being able to run newer 3D-accelerated games (2014+) on Linux, at acceptable resolutions (720p/1080p), on a rather outdated (but not deprecated) AMD Radeon HD 66xx-series discrete GPU ('2012) is quite amazing.

Sure, there are hiccups with certain games (mostly b/c of the cross-platform game-engine selected for development), but they'll get ironed out (eventually...) I'm not worried ;)

And, yes... I realize certain games are optimized for Nvidia-cards, but AMD is finally catching up on driver-compatibility / -support and -optimization.

The open-source Linux-driver (Radeon Gallium3D) and the proprietary Linux-driver (Catalyst / "Omega") both showed amazing feature-progress and bug-fixing in 2014, and the Catalyst-driver even benchmarked better than the Windows-version: http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=article&item=amd_cat_winlin2014&num=1.

Performance and feature additions for 2014:

  • OpenMAX / AMD video encode, UVD for older AMD GPUs.
  • various new OpenGL extensions.
  • continued work on OpenCL.
  • power management improvements.
  • ...and the start of open-source HSA.
The benefits are mostly for the newer HD 7xxx / GCN(GraphicsCoreNext)-series of GPU's, but, the driver-tests also showed the HD 6xxx-series (3+ years old) was still improving on both performance and bug-fixes.

From personal experience, gaming on the HD 6xxx-series is adequate for newer games (2013-2014+). But, if you want awesomesauce eyecandy graphics, tip: go for a higher series-range card.

I currently have a Sapphire Radeon HD 6670 1GB 64-bit GDDR5 PCIe-2.1 discrete graphics-card in my h3x4c0m box, and the card sports a GPU with a total of 480 stream-processors. I got the card b/c my deprecated Nvidia-card sported a whopping 48(!) CUDA-cores (lol), suffice to say; it should have been binned a long time ago, or at least moved over to a crap-box to act as a PVR or TV-tuner or something.


If you are a hardcore ultra-gamer, stick with Nvidia. But, AMD is still catching up, so keep an eye out for them as they have proven (2014) their game on Linux, and maybe even accelerating even newer methods of both integrated graphics (APU+GPU) and discrete graphics (GPU) in the near future ;)

Phoronix article-links:
http://hardware.slashdot.org/story/14/12/27/2234222/phoronix-lauds-amds-open-source-radeon-driver-progress-for-2014?sdsrc=rel
http://linux.slashdot.org/story/15/01/03/1426208/amd-catalyst-linux-driver-catching-up-to-and-beating-windows?utm_source=rss1.0mainlinkanon&utm_medium=feed

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