Hurray, I got myself a new AMD/ATI video card...

… but now I am using it as expensive paperweight. So if you are thinking about buying a 2600 based AGP card, don’t do it.

Here is the story of my (k)nightly quest to get this thing running:

Last week my old x800 based ATI AGP card died and I got myself a new card (HIS IceQ Radeon HD2600XT PRO AGP). Starting with windows I was quite surprised, to notice that the installed ATI catalyst driver did not find any ATI hardware.

Ok, I thought, maybe the driver is too old. So I downloaded the most recent catalyst 8.2. Still enjoying my shiny new hardware toy, I launched up the driver installer. And again I was informed, that the driver did not find any ATI video card. Hmm. I checked the ATI logo on the box, no it said, it’s an ATI card.

I used the manufacturer supplied CD to install the drivers, actually they were working, but a bit outdated. So why did the reference driver from ATI did not? A little bit of research brought up the issue. Go to the driverheaven forum and search for ATI+AGP. But better keep some painkillers at hand, you will need them if you own a 2600 based AGP card.

Long story short: ATI does not support 2600 based AGP cards with their new driver. Yeah right, they do not have AGP support for this chipsets (with a bit little bit of finger pointing to the manufacturer). These kind of cards are advertised as the best possible AGP video upgrade, but the official driver does not support it (not entirely right, actually there is a hotfix, that works with some cards, but not mine). Well, if that is not a clear case of WTF …

Since I use Linux as primary working OS, I tried to get the card running in Ubuntu. The combination of my trusted Ubuntu 7.04 and the official catalyst 8.2 fglrx only resulted in either kernel crashes (wheeeee!) or the driver did not find any hardware (tried the last five official drivers from the ATI/AMD website and the ones in the ubuntu repository). Finally I upgraded to 7.10, was able to build+load the fglrx driver. But still, no HD 2600 AGP card supported. The logs said that fglrx could not detect any hardware (doh!).

I love to play around with linux, kernel and drivers, but I really lost patience this time. The official AMD/ATI drivers simply did not work with my card, neither under Linux nor Windows (@AMD/ATI guys: you know, there is a nice little sticker on the box “certified for windows”).

The open source drivers did a much better job, as they were actually working. I got the card working with the radeonhd and the radeon drivers (both checked out via git and self compiled). Unfortunately the 2D acceleration is very new and there was no 3D acceleration or XV support (which I need in Linux). But nonetheless, big kudos to the open source community, for supplying a working driver for my card. The chip manufacturer of course was not able to do it. Interesting. I hope ATI/AMD actually pays their driver programming team. So the bottom line of all this ranting is:

I ordered an nvidia card and the AMD/ATI card has gone back into its nice little box. The only thing that will get it out of there again, is to test new versions of the radeon or radeonhd open source drivers. I am so done with AMD/ATI cards and the catalyst driver. Reading the reports about catalyst 8.3, I decided not to even try it. Did I mention already, that getting my new Nvidia 7600GT based card to work took 10 minutes for both operating systems in total (and the Linux driver has stable AIGLX support)?

The only positive about the whole mess: I discovered an excellent website concerning video hardware and Linux. Check out the Phoronix website and their Phoronix community forum. This is definitely the place to check, before you buy some video hardware.

ATI, you lost a customer here. And yes, I like some cheese with the whine.