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Thread: The Interesting Tale Of AMD's FirePro Drivers

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  1. #1
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    Default The Interesting Tale Of AMD's FirePro Drivers

    Phoronix: The Interesting Tale Of AMD's FirePro Drivers

    Earlier this week we published our annual look at AMD's Catalyst driver releases from the past year. Not only did the Catalyst Linux driver this year picked up a couple new features, its driver performance had improved slightly over the past twelve months. In building up some initial test data for OpenBenchmarking.org we decided not only to do these tests on the latest consumer-grade graphics card this year, but expand it to cover the workstation performance too and to go back nearly two years in time. These results for an AMD FirePro V8700 graphics card with the monthly driver updates going back to Catalyst 9.2 are quite interesting. AMD announced twice this year optimizations to their FirePro driver software, but in reality these "optimizations" were largely unsustainable and not optimizations as much as they were attempting to address driver regressions from the past.

    http://www.phoronix.com/vr.php?view=15592

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    Just some constructive criticism Michael, if I may?

    Quote Originally Posted by phoronix
    Our Linux workstation used for carrying out this FirePro V8700 1GB driver testing boasted dual AMD Opteron 2384 "Shanghai" Quad-Core CPUs, a Tyan S2932 motherboard, 4GB of DDR2 ECC Registered memory, and a 160GB Western Digital SATA HDD. Going back to test the very old drivers that lack support for the newer versions of the Linux kernel and X.Org Server, we used Ubuntu 8.04.4 LTS as the base operating system. Ubuntu 8.04.4 LTS 64-bit was used with the Linux 2.6.24 kernel, GNOME 2.22.3, X.Org Server 1.4.0.90, GCC 4.2.4, and an EXT3 file-system. Every driver release from Catalyst 9.2 (fglrx 8.58.2 / OpenGL 2.1.8404) to Catalyst 10.12 (fglrx 8.80.5 / OpenGL 3.3.10362).
    versus



    Tell me that doesn't look better than a laundry list of components? And of course, comments are welcome from readers

    I even picked out the Phoronix green color to give it a "fully dressed" feel

    Format nitpicking aside, I love the detail in this article. This is a lot more in-depth and comprehensive (especially with all the SPECview stuff) than articles we've seen in the past. You really seem to be stepping up the ante with the focus on the business crowd, and while I think that will get you quite a following from people into GPGPU and rendering and such, please keep in mind the humble roots that made Phoronix.com popular in the first place. To sum it up in one phrase, I'd say that I want Phoronix to retain its keen interest in "3d games on GNU/Linux". Articles like this one show a very different Phoronix -- one that I believe is indeed compatible with the more fun-loving, game-focused Phoronix, provided that you (or future editors, since you said you may be stepping down) actively try to maintain that balance.

    And of course I'm also interested in this article as a Catalyst user and a HD5970 owner, and I find that your results largely correspond with my qualitative experience over the course of the time I've had this GPU. Well done.

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    Quote Originally Posted by allquixotic View Post


    Tell me that doesn't look better than a laundry list of components? And of course, comments are welcome from readers
    Very nice. Although it's not the prettiest table I've seen, it has the advantage of letting me know the type of hardware used in this article, since I usually just skip that part when I start reading:

    "Our (machine) used for carrying out this (name of test) testing..."

    We can only hope that the next editorial staff will solve this and other issues.

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    Quote Originally Posted by devius View Post
    it has the advantage of letting me know the type of hardware used in this article, since I usually just skip that part when I start reading:
    Exactly! This is why I wanted to tabulate it: to make it more readable. I, too, often skip over this section of the article. I don't know how many people also skip it, but it's probably a large percentage. If that many people skip it, you may as well not even include it, but then you'd get complaints from the 10% who read it every time, so the best of both worlds is to include it and make it readable.

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    Quote Originally Posted by allquixotic View Post
    Just some constructive criticism Michael, if I may?



    versus



    Tell me that doesn't look better than a laundry list of components? And of course, comments are welcome from readers

    I even picked out the Phoronix green color to give it a "fully dressed" feel
    I've posted about this a couple times in other threads to readers wanting similar tables.... It's already implemented in the Phoronix Test Suite and OpenBenchmarking.org to auto-generate nicer tables. Here's an example of a completely auto-generated one right now:



    PTS takes care of figuring out everything and coming up with a table to highlight the differences. Once Phoronix.com is using the OpenBenchmarking.org-embedded graphs rather than static PNG files (within a couple weeks hopefully), those tables will be included, but I am not bothering with any stopgap measures in the meantime or anything that requires more manual work on my part.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael View Post
    I've posted about this a couple times in other threads to readers wanting similar tables.... It's already implemented in the Phoronix Test Suite and OpenBenchmarking.org to auto-generate nicer tables. Here's an example of a completely auto-generated one right now:

    PTS takes care of figuring out everything and coming up with a table to highlight the differences.
    Those tables need some tweaking. Too low contrast and too much information makes this particular example as hard to read as the textual description. At least make the text solid black on information that matters, like kernel version and hardware info. Automatic tables are nice, but some may need manual editing to remove some unnecessary information.

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    And on the other hand there's way too much contrast on the zebra coloring of the column and row titles. The rest of the cells have a background color that is way too dark.

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    Quote Originally Posted by devius View Post
    And on the other hand there's way too much contrast on the zebra coloring of the column and row titles. The rest of the cells have a background color that is way too dark.
    It's all controlled by external ~/.phoronix-test-suite/graph-config.xml.

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    Quote Originally Posted by devius View Post
    And on the other hand there's way too much contrast on the zebra coloring of the column and row titles. The rest of the cells have a background color that is way too dark.
    I see four types of gray. That's more than halfway to a greyscale rainbow.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael View Post
    I've posted about this a couple times in other threads to readers wanting similar tables.... It's already implemented in the Phoronix Test Suite and OpenBenchmarking.org to auto-generate nicer tables. Here's an example of a completely auto-generated one right now:



    PTS takes care of figuring out everything and coming up with a table to highlight the differences. Once Phoronix.com is using the OpenBenchmarking.org-embedded graphs rather than static PNG files (within a couple weeks hopefully), those tables will be included, but I am not bothering with any stopgap measures in the meantime or anything that requires more manual work on my part.
    Yes, we've been hearing that for months now. I really don't understand why you can't take the 15 seconds it LITERALLY takes to massively improve your articles - do you not bother running a spellcheck because it's too much work?

    Anyway, in more constructive criticism: I think the simpler table posted earlier still looks way better than the PTS generated one. There's simply no need to have every version of the drivers have their own column, it makes it too wide to be useful. I assume that even if you took out the 1 row that changed (OpenGL version) it would still list them as separate columns? I see what you're trying to do here and the automated generation is neat but IMO it still needs some work.

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