NVIDIA versus ATI on Linux

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zenten
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NVIDIA versus ATI on Linux

Postby zenten » Mon Dec 31, 2007 8:06 pm UTC

Now, outside of the Linux debate this is a whole other religious war, but I don't understand that one very well, so I'm not making a thread for it.

So I'm starting up this one. Nvidia's driver, even if it is closed source, supports 3d. There isn't a stable ATI driver out there that does.

So clearly Nvidia wins.

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Re: NVIDIA versus ATI on Linux

Postby Vempele » Mon Dec 31, 2007 8:37 pm UTC

:shock: Are you saying there's an unstable ATI driver that supports 3d? :shock:

I like unstable. ATI wins.
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Re: NVIDIA versus ATI on Linux

Postby zenten » Mon Dec 31, 2007 8:38 pm UTC

Vempele wrote::shock: Are you saying there's an unstable ATI driver that supports 3d? :shock:

I like unstable. ATI wins.


I've heard of one, but I don't think it ever even got to the testing stage.

So by "unstable" it is "here is some code that is guaranteed to crash your machine".

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Re: NVIDIA versus ATI on Linux

Postby Anpheus » Mon Dec 31, 2007 9:52 pm UTC

I actually got my X1950 running on Linux once. (With Compiz, fully working OpenGL, etc.)

But for ease, nVidia, hands down.
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Re: NVIDIA versus ATI on Linux

Postby wing » Mon Dec 31, 2007 11:39 pm UTC

nVidia. Nofuckingcontest.

Or *OLD* (7000-series) ATI. That stuff works fine with ATI's drivers, even though they aren't officially supported.
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Re: NVIDIA versus ATI on Linux

Postby Pobega » Tue Jan 01, 2008 12:01 am UTC

Intel, personally - But that‘s for licensing reasons. The support may not be perfect but who needs high end graphics on a non gaming rig? Hell, 97% of the time I‘m in a virtual console,

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Re: NVIDIA versus ATI on Linux

Postby Workaphobia » Tue Jan 01, 2008 5:28 am UTC

How about 6 months from now, when I might actually upgrade after years of talking about it? Do you think ATI will have stable, decent open source drivers by then, or will the landscape stay more or less the same?
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Re: NVIDIA versus ATI on Linux

Postby wing » Tue Jan 01, 2008 8:33 am UTC

Workaphobia wrote:How about 6 months from now, when I might actually upgrade after years of talking about it? Do you think ATI will have stable, decent open source drivers by then, or will the landscape stay more or less the same?

ATI doesn't seem to be improving. They haven't for quite some time, and there's no indication they intend to start being serious about Linux anytime soon.
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Re: NVIDIA versus ATI on Linux

Postby Anpheus » Tue Jan 01, 2008 12:05 pm UTC

Other than committing, publicly, to release full specs and alpha-quality open source drivers for their new products?

They've already released several hundred pages of documentation for their entire lineup, including their newest cards, for all 2D stuff. They're working on the 3D stuff for the same reason they've always said they couldn't open-source it: there's a lot of third-party code in their drivers which is only there because of commitments with various companies, usually game and media codec licensing entities, and releasing that code increases the potential for hacked drivers which do all that crazy see-through-walls stuff that you see in most FPSes online. It's not that it wouldn't happen anyway, without "trusted platform" security you can't prevent it, and very few are willing to commit to using the TPM because gamers are a fickle sort, and tend to be way too computer-conscious to let something like that slide. So naturally, you'll see hacks develop anyway.


Think of it this way, why can't the Linux Kernel or any of a number of other major open source projects easily change its license away from a GNU Public License version? Because you have to get a lot of copyright holders who have contributed, sometimes seemingly insignificant but vital pieces of code, to agree on one thing. Getting a room full of people to agree to something is, well, impossible. There's no way any of the initial proposals will pass unaltered. And compromises beget compromises, it's... there's usually an enormous amount of difficulty in doing something like this, and some projects have resorted to legal subterfuge and said, "Well, we're going to post this notice before we change the license. If anyone objects, reply to it, but we're not going to go ahead and mail the notice to anyone or put it in an extremely conspicuous place. You've got 30 days." This is much like the Earth being demolished because we didn't go look at the notice in another star system. The Vogons don't care, we didn't reply to the notice, there was a comment period and we ignored it. Likewise, this is a bit of legal shenanigans that probably wouldn't stand up in court, you can't take away someone's copyright just because they didn't reply to it. So AMD/ATI now has to unravel this mess that they've created with different companies, all overprotective, paranoid and insecure about their code being seen by anyone other than AMD/ATI.



Of course it's hard. Give them time, they made an open commitment to do so, they have released enormous quantities of documentation so far which has already produced binary drivers for 2D operations all the way up to the newest Radeon. 3D will take some time, it's an extremely complicated piece of hardware.
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Re: NVIDIA versus ATI on Linux

Postby e946 » Tue Jan 01, 2008 6:39 pm UTC

Anpheus wrote:Think of it this way, why can't the Linux Kernel or any of a number of other major open source projects easily change its license away from a GNU Public License version?


In addition to what you said, a lot of people might see this as a threat to open source software and refuse to use it until the license is changed back.

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Re: NVIDIA versus ATI on Linux

Postby Anpheus » Tue Jan 01, 2008 6:59 pm UTC

My point stands though, mixed intellectual property is a nightmare, and only the legal teams win.
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Re: NVIDIA versus ATI on Linux

Postby Axman » Wed Jan 02, 2008 9:53 am UTC

Now that the ATI crew has AMD kicking their ass over Linux support, they're definitively improving. They're a different company now.

Even Phoronix has been giving props to AMD: http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=a ... =952&num=1

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Re: NVIDIA versus ATI on Linux

Postby zenten » Wed Jan 02, 2008 3:14 pm UTC

Workaphobia wrote:How about 6 months from now, when I might actually upgrade after years of talking about it? Do you think ATI will have stable, decent open source drivers by then, or will the landscape stay more or less the same?


I doubt there will be anything in 6 months (a year maybe, if they finish opening up the specs soon), but it's probably best to wait until you're about to buy the card and check then.

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Re: NVIDIA versus ATI on Linux

Postby d3adf001 » Wed Jan 02, 2008 6:21 pm UTC

nvidia wins hands down. in maybe a year when they open source ati drives dont suck ill reevaluate this statement.

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Re: NVIDIA versus ATI on Linux

Postby r1chard » Mon Mar 02, 2009 11:01 pm UTC

ATI on Linux still sucks. Their driver is incredibly unstable.

Nvidia all the way.

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Re: NVIDIA versus ATI on Linux

Postby OOPMan » Tue Mar 03, 2009 7:10 am UTC

I'm using an onboard ATI with the fglrx driver and haven't had any issues. Of course, I don't actually do anything with the 3d side of it ;-)
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Re: NVIDIA versus ATI on Linux

Postby r1chard » Tue Mar 03, 2009 8:39 am UTC

OOPMan wrote:I'm using an onboard ATI with the fglrx driver and haven't had any issues. Of course, I don't actually do anything with the 3d side of it ;-)

Yeah, just try to run some OpenGL app - I dare you :)

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Re: NVIDIA versus ATI on Linux

Postby jagdragon » Tue Mar 03, 2009 8:56 am UTC

I have never used Nvidia on Linux, but I bet it beats ATI. My 3870 runs on the standard X11 driver (vesa?), but does no 3D. So, after much mucking about and trying to install things, I downloaded EnvyNG and ran it, and the program did it for me. Yay! Though, they are unstable drivers that need a lot of extra config to work smoothly. I can run Guild Wars under Wine on the fglrx driver, though...

Has anyone heard of the Radeon and RadeonHD projects? I compiled the RadeonHD driver and used it for a while, but it has no 3D support :(

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Re: NVIDIA versus ATI on Linux

Postby Minstrel » Tue Mar 03, 2009 3:41 pm UTC

I agree that ATI has made some big strides since the AMD merger. I'm not a huge gamer, but for what I've needed, the fglrx drivers have worked fine for me on a 9800xt. Within a year or two the tables could likely be turned in this debate.

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Re: NVIDIA versus ATI on GNU/Linux

Postby phillipsjk » Wed Mar 04, 2009 7:55 am UTC

I think the framing of the question is biased. Why limit your self to two brands notoriously reluctant to release specs? Anpheus describes some of the politics that may be involved. If you are using GNU/Linux for political reasons, 3D support is a sore point.

Anyway, my brother recently bought a custom computer and asked me for suggestions. He stated that he had some interest in being able to run GNU/Linux, but that it was (still is) primarily to be a WindowsXP gaming machine. I was bewildered by the features of the latest cards, so sent NVIDIA a pre-sales question (HDCP encrypts the video between the computer and display):

james wrote:What should I look for if I want a card with Good 3d preformance, but no money and power sucking HDCP support?

Would avoiding the "PureVideo HD(TM)" logo suffice?

In particular, I want to know if the encryption is integrated in the chipset, or if it is an add-on option used by some card manfacturers.

Regards,

James Phillips


I received a courteous reply:
Response (Troy W) wrote:Hello James,

What is your intended use or main application / game you want to accelerate? There is a generic tool that can help point you in the right direction.

http://www.nvidia.com/HelpMeChoose/fx/HelpMeChoose.asp

High Definition Copy Protection costs little and does not use a lot of electrical current.

Avoiding a GPU without a PureVideo HD processor wont suffice because HDCP is a design option for the card manufacturer. They can choose a GPU with or without depending on their card project. Now a days most provide HDCP.

Best regards,
NVIDIA


Fair enough, but then I was asked to fill out a follow-up survey.

One of the questions was (approximately, from memory)
survey wrote:Would you recommend an NVIDIA product [to anybody asking about 3D accelerators]?

[ ] Yes
[ ] No


Since I had not yet made a decision (ATI vs NVIDIA) I tried leaving that question blank. The online survey did not like that, so I thought about it some more.

I chose "No". The reason is that I took the long term view. I use a lot of old equipment. Currently the most promising card I have for good Linux 3D is a 3DFX Voodoo 5 (5500 AGP). Incidentally, the last card that company produced before being bought by NVIDIA.

My brother's OLD computer (the one replaced) has a NVIDIA riva TNT 64 (32MB AGP) card. There are still no open-source 3D drivers available for that card. NVIDIA has dropped support for that card in their unified drivers. This means if I want 3D support I have to chose between Windows or an old, outdated version of Linux still binary-compatible with the old unified drivers.
Edit: some open-source 3D is possible, but most people probably decide the card is not worth reverse-engineering. Summary of current support: http://dri.freedesktop.org/wiki/NVIDIA?highlight=%28CategoryHardwareVendor%29

In the end I made a mild recommendation against NVIDIA in favor of ATI because ATI is making an effort to release specs. It turned out that the card my brother got was ATI, despite not specifying which he wanted. The ATI card in question DOES support HDCP :P

I guess I'm saying that driver stability at a certain point in time is not the ONLY consideration.

Edit: If you have an application that JUST HAS TO WORK, Xi Graphics Inc writes commercial drivers for ATI and Matrox cards. They don't claim every game will work, but they do allow you to test their driver with whatever critical application you have in mind. I have never used their services. I just found the website after I discovered that Matrox is still selling cards; I was checking what the GNU/Linux support was like.

Edit: It's GNU/Linux, not just "Linux," when referring to the whole system rather than just the kernel.
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Re: NVIDIA versus ATI on Linux

Postby zerohero » Sat Mar 21, 2009 8:37 am UTC

Nvidia certainly has better drivers right now, but with both AMD/Nvidia, you get no support once a particular card is dropped; eventually new distros will cease to work with said binary blobs.

AMD has released a lot of the documentation for their radeonHD cards, making decent open-source drivers possible; if I want power, AMD is my current choice, though I do know that intel have been in the open-source business for a long time now (they even release the source code to their own drivers (in addition to documentation), as opposed to AMD who only release documentation and don't release source for their official drivers (which make sense, given that they probably have peices of code in there belonging to other companies and thus cannot legally release said code as a whole))
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Re: NVIDIA versus ATI on Linux

Postby Amranu » Sun Mar 29, 2009 9:42 pm UTC

My distro actually dropped support for the official ATI drivers a month or so ago (Arch Linux) because the drivers were so crappy, -and- hard to maintain.

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Re: NVIDIA versus ATI on Linux

Postby Ptolom » Tue Apr 07, 2009 8:21 pm UTC

I have an Ati radeon x300. It's compatibility a stream of festering donkey crap. I have spent days of searching support forums and tinkering with stuff just to make it work. And I still can't run a compositing window manager acceptably. Definitely Nvidia.

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Re: NVIDIA versus ATI on Linux

Postby zombiefeynman » Sun Apr 12, 2009 4:46 pm UTC

I have a radeon X1600. It's a bit old, but it runs okay on Windows/Ubuntu. On Fedora, I get the 'static snow.' And since flgrx (or whatever the heck it's called) won't compile, I'm gonna vote nVidia for now, ATI for later.


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