performance problems with ATI Radeon r300

Andrew Mason slackmase2 at
Fri Jul 3 02:03:46 BST 2009

On Fri, Jul 3, 2009 at 12:10 AM, Wolfgang
Jeltsch<fmp0d6sw at> wrote:
> Am Donnerstag, 2. Juli 2009 16:13 schrieb Andrew Mason:
>> Yes it is really annoying, unfortunately its mostly a case of the free
>> drivers not really being up to the task (yet, they are improving ) ,
> So you think, a r300 should be able to handle desktop effects in principle? By
> the way, what about a r100? Should it be able, too? I have such a card in my
> office laptop.
Yes i think an r300 should be able to handle some of them.

>> and AMD not caring about older models in their binary drivers.
> However, Compiz Fusion worked quite well with the proprietary fglrx driver in
> Ubuntu 8.10. Window wobbling was really smooth. So isn’t there also a problem
> with KDE?

Kwin is probably not perfect but it's pretty optimized. Compiz uses
different functions which have been well tested in the video card
drivers but it contains workarounds for known issues in the drivers.
This has maintainability problems in the log run. AFAIK Kwin takes a
no hacks approach which means that it uses the functions provided by
the drivers as it is advertised, even if the operations are slower
than could be achieved by working around them within Kwin it's self.
Both AMD and Nvidia have essentially fixed their drivers, however you
need to have a card supported by the new drivers. In both cases ( but
more so on the AMD side) reasonably new cards 'lost' support in the
newer drivers.

>> Basically xorg is in a bit of a flux and even the Intel cards are only
>> now getting back to the sort of performance they previously were,
> How about KDE with Intel cards? Do desktop effects perform well? I heard that
> Intel cards are “crap”.

Intel cards are good but not overly powerful. Still more than able to
provide the acceleration for the desktop. The intel drivers are also
in the same state of flux as the ATI drivers however they have
recently gotten much better with DRI and UXA. I have an X4500 which
works perfectly and an i915 which also works well. The X1300 however
is still pretty slow despite being newer than the 915.

>> AMD cards will follow but it's harder for them as the guys working on the
>> Intel cards are actually from Intel. The guys working on the AMD cards
>> are working for red hat, so they have to go on the documentation
>> provided by ATI, and do their other work  at the same time.
> So that’s bad news. Basically, it seems to mean that I will never get smooth
> desktop effects with my current laptop since when ATI drivers will offer
> reasonable performance (maybe in two or three years), I’ll have my laptop
> discarded already. :-(
Not never, the free drivers are improving all the time. The next few
releases of Xorg should help and once the ATI drivers are using UXA
and DRI2 the world will be a better place. ATI is helping the effort
but not to the extent intel is and as such it lags behind.

> It’s really annoying. Over two years after a first KDE 4 version was expected,
> I still don’t have smooth desktop effects. :-(
Yeh. Did i mention the timing sucks =) but both projects will be all
the better for fixing their infrastructure.

> By the way, what about NVidia cards? I heard that the proprietary NVidia
> driver also has problems with KDE. Are these fixed meanwhile?

Nvidia HAD performance issues with kde. For the cards that are able to
use the newer drivers this is fixed and it flies.
Unfortunately, older cards, like my Geforce TI 4200 are not supported
and thus I have the same issue you do despite it being an otherwise
more than capable card. Nvidia have no incentive to update these

> Is there any work from the KDE developers to improve performance of desktop
> effects, or is the current implementation considered good enough?
>> It's awesome that KDE are taking a no hacks approach.
> What do you mean with “no hacks approach”? That the KDE developers don’t use
> hacks to circumvent graphics driver deficiencies? While this is, in fact,
> awesome from a technical point of view, it is awful from a users
> perspective. ;-)
See above for the first point. It sucks for the users however please
remember that it's the Distro's that choose to include specific
versions of Xorg and KDE. They have their reasons and i'm not saying
it's the wrong decision, however KDE provides the software for the
distro's to consume. It's up to the distro's to choose which versions
offer the best experience for their users.

>> It just sucks that the time that KDE became stable was when Xorg was also in
>> flux.
> Well, I use KDE 4.2.3 with the “old” 1.4 X server but have the described
> problems nevertheless.
Thats because 1.4 drivers were fast for most operations but also
didn't have the necessary code paths for desktop effects to function

> Anyway, thanks for the info.
> Best wishes,
> Wolfgang
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