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Thread: AMD APU's on Linux?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Posts
    219

    Default AMD APU's on Linux?

    I'm wondering how the AMD APUs do with Linux.

    I've never even -once- considered building a system with AMD Graphics, and only once for AMD mobos/CPUs. I've instead opted for Intel Atoms, i3s, Celerons, and at one point VIA EPIA and Nanos. I've run lots of distros on lots of hardware:

    EpiOS (VIA EPIA specialized distro based on Gentoo)
    Arch
    SuSE
    Fedora
    CentOS
    ...

    The last time I ran Linux on anything AMD was on an Athlon X2 4200, and even that was NVIDIA graphics. I'm wondering how the new AMD "APU" systems work with modern distros. I am not afraid of configuration, I'm just afraid of getting nowhere no matter how much I tweak and configure. Intel + NVIDIA/Intel + Intel Graphics, and even headless AMD + NVIDIA seem to be winning combos because of the great, reliable drivers available, and since my last time trying to get AMD drivers working on Linux (ATI Radeon - AGP 9800 pro- NIGHTMARE!) I've been wary of the platform.

    I'm hoping that some helpful members here may help me "get up to speed" with Linux support on AMD hardware (CPU+GPUs)- perhaps resolving some potential misconceptions (eg.: Configuration is a nightmare and I'll never get anywhere) along the way.

    Those of you out there on AMD running Linux successfully- let me know your experiences!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Posts
    276

    Default Use, please?

    Everything will depend on what you're trying to do.
    Xinerama?
    Dual-head?
    XRandR?
    Do you want hardware decode? (you might get XvBA working with fglrx, that's all)
    Wine/3D?
    OpenGL version X.Y?
    OpenCL?
    Which applications?
    Most importantly, what drivers are viable options (Mesa version/Fglrx version/X11 +kernel version)?
    (It sounds like you're saying "any current distro/driver, as long as it works".)
    Usually, you can set up fglrx fairly easily (su to root, run 'amdconfig', and use the Catalyst Control Panel), though it's among the most backwards X drivers

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Posts
    219

    Default

    The main use case is hardware accelerated video decode on smaller systems... mini ATX or mini ITX. They need to boot quickly, autodetect to its best ability the maximum resolution of the display for X (it would be nice if KMS would do this for the TTYs!), and from there it can be anything from mplayer (main use case) to accelerated Flash / HTML5 video. These systems are more purpose-built and that's where I can potentially see some cost savings from using AMD hardware.

    On larger systems I am very comfy with Intel rigs for multimonitor (3 _or more_ screens) but as Xinerama doesn't work with composite in Xorg I have resigned to using "screen pairs" in TwinView (2+2+2 for a 6 screen rig). I frequently change these pairs over to multiseat mode to play wine games all on the same box. I throw up 2 or 3 instances of Starcraft II on my rig no problem. It would be interesting to know if this works well on AMD's hardware, but this use case is way out there.

    That being said, it would be interesting to know how well wine games work, the general consensus I have been getting from the implicit feedback on winehq / everywhere is: "If you want to use wine to run games, use NVIDIA hardware and the blob". True/false?

    OpenCL isn't really a part of my use case for the systems I'm thinking of building. Small, purpose built video players and systems that boot into web browsers. Kiosks, little arcade gaming machines.

    OpenGL... you see 98% of software still only touches upon OpenGL 2.x stuff, and the latest wow features are in OpenGL 4.x+ (tessellation, etc). It is kinda nice that I can fire up Unigine Heaven and crank everything to the max on my main rig. It is not an absolute necessity. OpenGL 3.2 is probably a better baseline to go for...

    You see, on the driver side for me its easy: Nouveau or NVIDIA, and I generally pick NVIDIA for latest OpenGL and hardware support. The hardware needs to work, fast, and well. As long as it works for any current distro and well, I don't care too much about which driver I use.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Posts
    276

    Default

    I have an HD 3200 Mobility/RS780 -- which antedates the APUs.

    Multihead worked for me OOB (plug in the monitor); it may not be as easy, but it should work.
    Full resolution seemed to be detected.
    You WILL NOT get accelerated video decode in flash (without running a patched version of gnash)--Adobe only supports VDPAU and CrystalHD (Broadcom's discreted video-decode chip). AMD chips use XvBA with fglrx.
    There's one video player (xbmc) that will work with that, though it's a WIP.
    I'm not sure if flash uses OpenGL or Xv on AMD chips.
    Fglrx and Mesa both should give you WebGL acceleration in Chrome & Firefox, with the current drivers.

    fglrx provides a lot more hardware features (OpenGL 3.x/4.x, XvBA, OpenCL...), while radeon gives faster boot (if you get kms working), but supports OpenGL 2.1 and partially 3.0; radeon has some video decode (mpeg/mpeg2 only, IIRC), but it's only by using shaders.

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