The information you find everywhere: on Linux the current “radeon” and “fglrx” are being replaced by AMDGPU (graphics) and ROCm (compute) for HSA-enabled GPUs. As the whole AMD Linux driver team is seemingly working on getting the new and open source drivers ready, fglrx is now deprecated and will not get updates (or very late). I therefore can get to the point:
When using fglrx on Linux, don’t upgrade to Linux distributions with a kernel later than 4.2 or Xorg server versions beyond 1.17!
For Ubuntu this means no 14.04.5 or 16.04 or later. When you have 14.04.4, the kernel will not upgrade when you go to 14.04.5. CentOS/RedHat has such old kernels, there currently is no issue. Fedora users simply have a problem, as they already go towards 4.8.
The future: Radeon, MESA and AMDGPU-PRO
The radeon driver is to support older GPUs (from what I’m reading on forums), whereas AMDGPU will be the base for both the open source (MESA) and the proprietary (AMDGPU-PRO) drivers. Another option would be that MESA also takes over the role of the radeon driver for older Radeon GPUs, which the below image explains.
How it will actually go, we’ll see in 2017.
Current support for hardware by new drivers
These new drivers currently have the focus on recent GCN GPUs. We will explain a lot more on the different aspects later, but leave it for current hardware support for now.
AMDGPU (graphics) Beta: Radeon R9 380, 380X, 390, 390X, Nano, Fury, Fury X, 460, 470 and 480. See the release notes for more info.
ROCm (compute): FirePro W9100, S9150 and S9170, Radeon R9 Nano, Radeon R9 Fury, Radeon R9 Fury X and FirePro S9300 x2. For more info on support see this page.
More about these two drivers and their different goals later.
Patches for kernel 4.4 and 4.6
When you have just upgraded the kernel and don’t have the happy face right now, then you can still make it work by patching the installer. Patches for the kernel are available for Fedora, but should work on other Linux flavours too. We have not tested these – all on your own risk.
There are no patches for Xorg 1.18 or later. Downgrading Xorg is the only option.
From what I read, AMD chose to make the transition period as short as possible, as AMDGPU and ROCm need to be 100% ready when the new GPUs arrive. At StreamHPC we stay on 4.2 kernels for the time being – we know what we get in return.
What do you think? Will AMDGPU drivers make gaming/computing life on Linux better?