3D Hardware Acceleration with Ati Mobility Radeon 7500

28 12 2005

To test the gaming capability of my Gentoo system 😉 I installed NeverWinter Nights in Windows, then followed the official installation notes and a HowTo, regarding the Platinum DVD version that I have. I unpacked the nwclient129.tar.gz and the three linux*update1xxto165eng.tar.gz patches listed on that HowTo page (I guess that was alot of redundant data in those patches, but who cares…).

The game worked right out of the box. But it was lagging like hell, comparable to a 386 machine running glquake. Why? Because I didn’t have hardware rendering enabled!
# cat /var/log/Xorg.0.log | grep rendering
(II) RADEON(0): Direct rendering disabled

glxgears resulted in about 220-240 FPS. After I added
Option "AGPMode" "4"
Option "UseFBDev" "true"
Option "AGPFastWrite" "true"
Option "EnablePageFlip" "true"
to the “Device” section of my /etc/X11/xorg.conf the FPS increased to 365 FPS. But this was still too low, so I headed over to the Gentoo Hardware 3D Acceleration Guide.

After compiling and booting the new kernel (yes, I had DRM support enabled in the kernel and disabled it now), I ran ACCEPT_KEYWORDS=~x86 VIDEO_CARDS=radeon emerge -u x11-drm which already boosted glxgears to about 588 FPS.

The last thing to do was emerge x11-xorg again. Since NeverWinter Nights uses a depth of 24 bpp and a resolution of 800×600 I added DefaultColorDepth 24 to the “Screen” Section and Modes "1024x768" "800x600" "640x480" to the “Display” SubSections in /etc/X11/xorg.conf

This resulted in about 12 fps in the NWN start area, fully zoomed out, and about 4 fps when fully zoomed in. There was some strange flickering on the models, but since the proposed workaround didn’t work, I used the other one instead. I emerged the heavily masked driconf and set the TCL mode to “Software” for all nw* executables with it.
Still, the game was unplayable with that FPS, I didn’t bother to see what the FPS would be in the more complex environment later on. The reason for the bad framerate is that the opensource drivers currently only boost 2D rendering and not 3D rendering. The official ATI driver doesn’t support the Mobility Radeon 7500, so I guess I am stuck at this point.

On to more promising things: Quake 3 is working really nice. Since I don’t have the game CD with me at the moment, I only installed the demo via emerge quake3-demo and I removed the DefaultColorDepth entry from the xorg.conf since Q3 uses 16 bpp by default, I guess. (the framerate is higher without it)

To test the performance, start the q3demo and hit Shift together with the key left from backspace and type
timedemo 1
demo demo001

I had 60+ fps as user, 80+ fps as root.

Strangely, I have to reset my X display manager atleast once after a fresh boot, otherwise I can only enjoy the hardware acceleration as root. After the reset, non-root users can use hardware acceleration, too. Solution pending.




One response

1 06 2006

Even easier: Just run the q3demo in one of the following ways:
q3demo +timedemo 1 +demo demo001
q3demo +timedemo 1 +demo demo002

After the demo is finished you can quit the game and see the FPS in the debug messages generated by the game.

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