Radeon vs. RadeonHD Drivers In H1'08
Phoronix: Radeon vs. RadeonHD Drivers In H1'08
For Linux distribution vendors, right now is proving to be an awkward time for them as they decide which ATI driver will ship as the default choice in their spring distribution refresh. The problem used to be whether to ship a binary-only driver in the distribution in order to provide "out of the box" support for all available graphics hardware, but on the ATI/AMD side the software distributors are now facing the challenge of which open-source driver they should call the de facto standard. In this article we are briefly looking at the matter of the xf86-video-ati vs. xf86-video-radeonhd drivers, the highly political issue of AtomBIOS, and what some of the popular Linux distributions are deciding to use this spring.
Adding support for r500/r600 to radeon permanently complicates code
If you keep adding support to new cards in the same driver (radeon), it's going to make the driver slower even for the old cards due to the penalty of card-specific if statements. So it would be better from a performance p.o.v. to have a new driver like radeonhd. What's even more sad is that once someone indroduces support for r500/r600 into the radeon driver, no one will take the time to remove that support if it becomes superfluous, and were stuck with two drivers forever and a split tester base.
Also, AtomBIOS sounds like just an excuse for AMD to not provide documentation. Furthermore, if you have a bug in AtomBIOS, you can't fix it unless you re-flash the card which would be dangerous.