Monday, December 01, 2008

ATI == regret?

My ASUS A8V AMD socket-939 MoBo is no more, has ceased to be, it has expired and gone to make its maker (and so on). Being unable to find a substitute socket 939 MoBo in the market, I had to buy almost a whole new computer (motherboard, processor, memory and video card). This time I opted for Intel (Core2 quad Q6600 and a DP35DPM MoBo with 4GB DDR2-800 RAM), but I chose to honor AMD's openness buying an ATI video card (PCIe 3650, 1GB DDR2). Good point: it compiles KDE trunk in a snap. Bad points: ATI's fglrx driver has video artifacts when using 3D compositing while playing a video or running an OpenGL application (probably because of the lack of DRI2 support or some alternative as the one implemented by NVIDIA), and freezes the machine when I try to open a 2nd X instance. Being used to report and fix bugs, I visited http://suport.ati.com and reported these (tickets 737-1380050 and 737-1380060) as follows:


Ticket #: 737-1380050
Status: Work In Progress
Date Created: 11/30/2008 6:45 PM EDT
Date Updated: 12/1/2008 12:05 AM EDT

Ticket Description
Type of Inquiry: PC support
Bus Type: PCI Express
Operating System: Linux X86 64
Other Operating System:
Driver Version:
Driver Version: CATALYST 8.11
Other Driver Version:
Category: Solve a Problem
Driver Version:
Topic: Display
Trade-up to product
(Trade-up FAQ):
Have you moved since submitting the rebate?:
Order number:
Sub-topic: 3D Applications
Multimedia Center Component:
Multimedia Center Version:
Media Center Component:
Media Center Version:
Other Multimedia Center Version :
Other Promotion:
Other Topic:
Graphics Manufacturer: Sapphire Technology Ltd.
Vendor: Not Sure
Application: Other
Application Name: compiz
Product: Other Sapphire (Uncertified)
Application Version:
Which retailer did you purchase your ATI card from ?:
Offer/ Department #:
Was this purchased over the Internet?:
Other Retailer:
Purchase Date:
Rebate Amount:
New Address
Street Address:
Address 2:
City:
Country:
Postal Code / Zip:
Province:
State:
State / Province / Division:
Postal Code:
Zip:
Summary: Error when playing video or using OpenGL applicaltions with 3D compositing
Details: When 3D compositing is enabled (either Compiz or kwin4), if I run an OpenGL application or a video player there is image corruption, as if the application was fighting against the window manager for video resources. It probably happens because the fglrx driver lacks DRI2 support or any other way to avoid this problem (afaict).
Disabling 3D compositing is not a satisfatory solution, as current linux desktop environments a using 3D compositing in a broader an broader way nowadays, and the same problem doesn't happen with other vendors' cards and drivers.

Ticket #: 737-1380060
Status: Work In Progress
Date Created: 11/30/2008 7:50 PM EDT
Date Updated: 12/1/2008 12:05 AM EDT

Ticket Description
Type of Inquiry: PC support
Bus Type: PCI Express
Operating System: Linux X86 64
Other Operating System:
Driver Version:
Driver Version: CATALYST 8.11
Other Driver Version:
Category: Solve a Problem
Driver Version:
Topic: Lockups and Hangs
Trade-up to product
(Trade-up FAQ):
Have you moved since submitting the rebate?:
Order number:
Sub-topic: Operating System
Multimedia Center Component:
Multimedia Center Version:
Media Center Component:
Media Center Version:
Other Multimedia Center Version :
Other Promotion:
Other Topic:
Graphics Manufacturer: Sapphire Technology Ltd.
Vendor:
Application:
Application Name:
Product: Other Sapphire (Uncertified)
Application Version:
Which retailer did you purchase your ATI card from ?:
Offer/ Department #:
Was this purchased over the Internet?:
Other Retailer:
Purchase Date:
Rebate Amount:
New Address
Street Address:
Address 2:
City:
Country:
Postal Code / Zip:
Province:
State:
State / Province / Division:
Postal Code:
Zip:
Summary: System freezes when trying to run a 2nd X server
Details: When I try to run a 2nd instance of X.org's X server with the latest fglrx drivers my computer freezes. It's always repeatable.


After a short period of time I got the following automated response:


The Linux drivers available from ATI are provide are "as is".
You may be able to get further assistance from the Linux community
at the links below:


http://www.linux.org/help/index.html

http://www.linuxdoc.org/

http://www.xfree86.org/


To report issues with Linux drivers you can submit an online ticket using
the "Linux Driver Feedback" Category, and your report will be
received and reviewed/tested by our driver team. Please note that your report
will only be responded to if we require additional information.


Not that I had high expectations about seeing these problems fixed anytime soon, but why make me fill a support ticket if they don't support my platform of choice at all? My reply:


First, thanks for the prompt response. I understand the fact the driver is provided "as is", so ATI/AMD doesn't feel obliged to help me with its driver's problem(s). What I don't understand is why, instead of just stamping out clearly that Linux drivers aren't supported, I had to spend time filling a ticket and describing the problem to get such unuseful answer with three barely related links, while alerting me when I selected "Linux" as the operating system would be much more straightforward and honest.
I understand my ticket will not get a satisfying solution (to me) by ATI/AMD, but nevertheless I still feel the need to remember you that "Customer Care" usually means "caring about customers", and even if I didn't expect to have the problem I reported fixed anytime soon, I at least had hope a Linux driver developer would be notified about it, and maybe I could help him somehow, giving more feedback or anything suitable, as I was able to do with other vendors (NVIDIA's Aaron Plattner and Intel's Keith Packard). Please don't take that as if I'm trying to teach you how to do your work or how ATI/AMD should do business (I'm not), I'm just telling you what I expected from a Company like ATI/AMD, based on experiences I had with other vendors. That said, I recently bought a graphics card with an ATI chipset (3650, 1GB DDR2 RAM) because of a perceived (and widely advertised in the media) openness of your company towards Linux (my platform of choice). Had I but known of this lack of both support and developer interaction beforehand I would surely choose another vendor.
I would like to ask ATI/AMD to change its support/customer care website to reflect more precisely its policy about (nonexistent) Linux support, so no time would be spent by someone like me who tried to ask for help and at the same time tried to help ATI/AMD to improve its products.


ATI/AMD is a big Corporation, as NVIDIA and Intel are, but its corporate culture makes the interaction between outsiders and developers much harder to achieve. I've heard nothing from Mr. Matthew Tippett (AMD's Linux Core Engineering Manager) since June 01, 2007, and AMD's forum has scarce information about fglrx problems (it doesn't even have any Linux-specific category).
Linux stays advancing at a fast pace in the market and is being used more and more. Advanced desktop effects are becoming the norm, and stable, full-featured graphics drivers are essential to make it reality to more people. Some days ago we've seen NVIDIA mention a bugfix for KDE in its drivers!
Please AMD, interact more with your customers. Create proper channels of communication and improve the ones who already exist. Accept and welcome feedback from those who care. Let users take a more active participation in making AMD/ATI products better. Listen to us. Talk to us.

7 comments:

Diederik said...

Hi,

Not sure if this could be of help, but last time I tried to get an ATI card running I had less bugs when TV-out was disabled.

This may help you to find a fix.

Alexei Sergeyev said...

Yeah! Yeah! First true post about ATI! I love you! I hate my ATI card.

KAMiKAZOW said...

Don't the "radeonhd" drivers work for you?

sebas said...

Kind of twisted ... you say you bought an ATI card because of their new openness, then you complain about problems with their closed drivers.

Try either the radeonhd driver, or the ati driver that comes included with Xorg.

chithanh said...

Get a Radeon X1300/X1600 card, those are very inexpensive and well supported (2D+3D+Video acceleration) by the open source drivers.

Marcin said...

http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=news_item&px=Njg2Mw

You have r600 card so you may just wait a bit for 3d support in open drivers.

Taupter said...

Diederik: I had no idea TV-out (even if disconnected) could affect the card's performance/stability. I'll take a look.
Alexei: Thanks for your support. ;)
KAMiKAZOW: I didn't test the radeonhd driver, as I saw in Phoronoix that there's no DRI2 support yet.
sebas: I bought an ATI card because of their _perceived_ openness and goodwill to treat Linux customers better, not only because the (partially) open specifications, and because they hired Novell to improve the radeonhd driver. There's a lot of good things coming from ATI, I just expected a bit more of useful interaction instead of that cold, canned answer. ATI is improving and opening up, but its communication with its users/customers need to be worked on.
chithanh: I went for a better performing solution to avoid video/3D stuttering with my monitor's resolution (1920x1440), so I tried to adapt my machine to my usage patterns. Here in Brazil everything IT-related is at least three times more expensive than the same thing in Europe or USA (because of import taxes and profits for every man-in-the middle),so a X1550 here is absurdly overpriced.
Marcin: I hope the R600 3D support will be completed soon and all the legal problems get sorted out.