AMD Releases Cayman Documentation, Open Driver Is Close
Written by Michael Larabel in AMD on 8 February 2011 at 11:16 AM EST. 86 Comments
AMD has put out their first public documentation concerning their Radeon HD 6900 "Cayman" series graphics processors. This 492 page document describes the Cayman instruction set architecture. We have also received an update at Phoronix from AMD concerning the Radeon HD 6900 series open-source support under Linux.

Those interested in this new document release, it's available at AMD.com (PDF). It's just under 500 pages and is separated into program organization and state, control flow programs, ALU clauses, texture cache clauses, memory read clauses, data share operations, instruction set, and microcode formats. This documentation though does not cover mode-setting or other non-ISA portions of the graphics processor.

Aside from the Radeon HD 6900 ISA documentation, AMD's Alex Deucher also has reported to Phoronix that the open-source support for these GPUs is coming along as well. "In the open driver, we have working mode-setting support for Cayman and much of the acceleration work is in place, but it's not working yet."

This is good news so it looks like we may see Radeon HD 6900 series open-source support land for the Linux 2.6.39 kernel with the DRM/KMS Radeon bits and then in Mesa 7.11 for the user-space Gallium3D driver support with OpenGL acceleration. The 3D support is expected to be tacked onto the "R600g" Mesa driver.

For those owners of pre-HD 6900 series hardware, as in the Radeon HD 6000 "Northern Islands" ASICs and previous generations, there is already open-source support. Via the proprietary AMD Catalyst driver there is already support for all Radeon HD 6000 series GPUs, including the Cayman-based Radeon HD 6950 and Radeon HD 6970.
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Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the web-site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience and being the largest web-site devoted to Linux hardware reviews, particularly for products relevant to Linux gamers and enthusiasts but also commonly reviewing servers/workstations and embedded Linux devices. Michael has written more than 10,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics hardware drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated testing software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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