A series of GPU models that are more than 20 years old are suddenly updated with drivers

It’s like a joke! Phoronix, a website that specializes in all things Linux, has just posted their findings that ATI Radeon R300, R400 and R500 series GPU models… are receiving a new package of driver updates on Linux. . Notably, these are all GPU “tools” that can be classified as “ancient” and have been around for more than 20 years.

It turns out that this is an open source graphics driver package, created by the famous Linux developer Emma Anholt. This driver package was created to provide the GPU with the ability to request NIR shaders from the Mesa 3D library (via the state monitor in Mesa 3D), and send this NIR to the TGSI pipeline. NIR helps reduce GPU stress when running applications at the 3D level — essentially an optimization layer at the core of the driver shader compilers received from Mesa.

But what does this really mean for Radeon graphics cards that have been around for two decades? Obviously, the new driver is not only expected to help improve GPU performance when playing games, improve stability, but also contribute to shortening load times. But it’s also important to understand that the performance improvement on today’s new, modern games won’t really be that significant. But the story will be completely different for games that come out at the same time as these GPU models, where there will be a positive increase in both stability and performance.

At the time of launch, the ATI Radeon R500 GPU models were manufactured on a 90nm process which was extremely large compared to what we are familiar with today. The most famous model in this line of graphics cards is the X1800 — ATI’s flagship GPU model. The ATI Radeon X1800 XT can only access processing performance as high as 83 Gflops (with G). Currently, top models of graphics cards from AMD and NVIDIA, such as the RTX 3090, are capable of 35 TFlops or higher performance.

Emma Anholt and colleagues are expected to release a new graphics driver package after the new Mesa 22.0 is operational. However, at this time, the open source community is still conducting further tests to make sure the driver can work completely stable before a full Linux release is available.


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