Driver Patch Reduces ATI Graphics Power Consumption

Apr 07, 2008

ATI graphics cards have become more and more interesting for Linux developers ever since the manufacture released the sources. The latest drive has released power management functions that have previously been neglected on Linux.

AMD developer Alex Deucher released a patch for the free R500 and R600 graphics chip driver to add support for dynamic graphics processor clocking. The "Dynamic Clocks" extension changes the graphics processors clock speed, although functions for modifying the bus and memory clock speeds are still missing for full dynamic power management support like that provided by ATI's "PowerPlay" solution. PowerPlay has not been completely released. And because clock management is often implemented in the form of BIOS calls, the new code will not benefit some users. Despite this, the patch is regarded as a starting point for making the free ATI driver less power hungry.

The current "xf86-video-ati driver" driver is available in the Git tree on It is most useful to owners of notebooks with the ATI R500/R600 graphics chipset. The code has no effect on desktop machines.

AMD released the specifications for the ATI R500 and R600 in September last year. The release was followed by documentation for further cards and chips this February.

Related content

  • Saving Power

    Save power by choosing the right system and software configuration.

  • More Powerful than Ever: Kernel 2.6.23 Released

    With numerous new drivers and functions and a whole bunch of improvements Linus Torvalds released the new 2.6.23 version of the Linux kernel in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

  • Charly's Column

    Beep and power off! Large displays and faster CPUs seemingly wipe out the benefits of advances in battery technology. PowerTOP helps power hogs keep their laptops running without mains power.

  • AMD/ATI Publishes GPU Documentation

    ATI has released the complete 3D register reference guide for Radeon 6XX/7XX chips, greatly simplifying the work of the open source Radeon HD driver project

  • Power Management Tools

    Linux offers several tools that help users analyze the power consumption of hardware components.

comments powered by Disqus
Subscribe to our Linux Newsletters
Find Linux and Open Source Jobs
Subscribe to our ADMIN Newsletters

Support Our Work

Linux Magazine content is made possible with support from readers like you. Please consider contributing when you’ve found an article to be beneficial.

Learn More