I'm more of the opinion that it's a touchy chip- one of those things that Jeff and I were discussing. I suspect that if you don't do things in a just-so manner with it then it won't work correctly. The reason why we see "odd" inconsistent behaviors from person to person is that each person has a different brand of desktop or laptop motherboard and the BIOS variations for start-up are causing...issues...with the driver. I suspect that the Windows driver goes and does a full-on reset of things and does it in the right "just-so" way, and the Linux driver either doesn't or can't do it reliably.
hmmm.... when i was still using windoze the driver would do a black screen during which it might have setting the things properly, but also on that one (the time i switched completely was by 8.40.4) i had problems (watermark and other software stuff) and also random windoze crashes. so i think that the problem stands in the chip's architecture and that, with the presence of so many different brands for its boards, the driver cannot fix everything. i've never seen such awful board. now for some reason i don't have more than 330fps with 100% processor use, while some time ago i had more than 1000, and the things i can do with it are just basic operations. and this was true not only on linux but also for windoze. i could never use for example video editing software or play games or whatever would stress the board and i've come to use just 64mb of ram when i was using the board on windows. on linux i cannot set the memory to more than 128 (no bios setting to do manage it) and i can use only basic functionality. they work in an acceptable way, but if i'd want to use something like compiz or play games or also playing videos with dvd resolution i cannot do it, if not in an unsatisfactory way.
so i think that the problem is not in the drivers but in the chip's core. i should change the pc in some months and i'm waiting to know what does it worth buying: if amd continues the way it has in the last months then i'll definitely chose that brand, but if it starts to break fglrx more and more then i think i'll go with an 8000 serie.