ATI Cards on Sandy bridge processors on Linux (Ubuntu)

Posted by ubuuser on Apr 29, 2012 5:51 AM EDT; By ubuuser
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If you are like me, who has this specification, you might be thinking not again. The pain of trying to copy paste lines of Ubuntu .. Natty/Precise.. installation guides and after sure failure at last restoring back to mesa.

Whenever users install Linux on a Sandy bridge processor with ati card, they feel like they have been cheated, regarding graphics performance from ati card. If you have started loading Ubuntu on Sandy bridge starting from 11.04 you surely know the pain.

1. After Ubuntu installation you are welcomed with burning cpu of ati card, firing all the time. If you did not shut the ati card down you get the feeling that your computer might damage due to overheat. To solve this issue everyone shutted down the powerful ati card using following commands

modprobe radeon echo OFF > /sys/kernel/debug/vgaswitcheroo/switch

You might even have considered using it at boot via /etc/rc.local. If you did not follow these instructions, and actually tried to activate the ati card, you were sure to get a graphics freeze.

2. If you however tried to install the catalyst driver either using discovery of propitiatory driver or downloading the driver from ati card's site you would certainly seg fault your 3d graphics and had to login into unity 2d or even might get a black screen of death.

That is the reason why Linux users were always reluctant towards ati cards and suggested everyone to buy a computer with Nvidia Cards.

So why this article? What has changed since then that I feel to write this article?

Recently there was a post at ubuntuforums titled <a href="">"AMD/Intel Hybrid Graphics Works!"</a> (all credit goes to the author of that article), which I looked very suspiciously. I was never going to go through all that pain. I was happy with old way of modprobing radeon. However there were two posts about steam coming to Linux (1. podcast at which Gabe Newell talks about he working with his Linux team (around 10 min), 2. post from phoronix). So I wanted to give ati card a last try.

This time I removed the modprobe lines from /etc/rc.local in Ubuntu 12.04, downloaded catalyst driver 12.4 and copied and pasted all instructions for step 1 and 2 from that post and to my surprise ati card actually worked for the first time in Linux. I was even able to run Unigine Heaven for the first time. This time after a reboot I changed my /etc/rc.local to

aticonfig --px-igpu

and whenever I have to run a high gpu demanding program I run

aticonfig --px-dgpu

from command line, logout and login back to activate the ati card. For normal computer operation hd 3000 of sandy bridge is just fine, because it gives you better battery life.

Conclusion : If you have this configuration, you should definitely give catalyst 12.4 a try, following this article and see if it actually works this time. Don't forget to mention your configuration on that forum so that other might know on which computer it works.

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