AMD to update ATI Linux drivers--with open source?

AMD's new ATI driver for Linux will speed performance, according to one tester, and the chipmaker plans to make an open-source move as well.

ATI, the graphics chip business Advanced Micro Devices acquired, is planning to release new graphics drivers for Linux, and the move should provide a much-needed performance boost and a new open-source approach, one expert said Wednesday.

"The performance overall for the past sixteen months has been stagnant," said Michael Larabel, who runs the Phoronix site to monitor Linux graphics performance. He tested the driver and said the new 8.41 version will be available within the next week. "The new driver delivers massive performance improvements."

That's handy for the graphics wonks who want fancy 3D-graphics desktop effects through software such as AIGLX, Beryl and Compiz. Drivers let operating systems communicate with hardware, but with ATI's proprietary drivers, open-source programmers have been beholden to ATI.

Perhaps more significantly, AMD could be following Intel's open-source graphics driver. "In the near future, AMD will be making an announcement about accelerating efforts within the open-source community," Larabel said. Depending on how far AMD goes, that could make Nvidia the odd man out when it comes to staying proprietary.

AMD plans to make an announcement Thursday regarding "open-source drivers for their graphics cards," according to press invitation Wednesday, but the invitation offered no further details.