Home > Hardware, Linux > To ATI or not to ATI

To ATI or not to ATI

I am planning on building a MythTV HTPC in July and I have started spec’ing components.

My requirements are as follows:

  1. Must use energy efficient components
  2. Must handle DVB-S and DVD-T
  3. Must output digitally (DVI & analogue audio or HDMI) in 1080p
  4. Must be capable of S3 suspend to memory and resume
  5. Must support Linux (obviously)

At first I thought this would be relatively easy. Most processors are energy efficient these days, so there is no problem there. Either a Core Duo or AM2 65nm EE should do the trick. 1GB of DDR2 and a 2.5” laptop hard-drive are also easy choices.

Graphics should be integrated on the motherboard to save a few extra watts and keep things cooler and should be Linux compatible… that should be easy… right? Wrong, Intel’s 965G chipset looks interesting, the 965G spec allows for integrated DVI, the drivers are fairly well supported by Linux out of the box, the GPU even handles MPEG2 and WMV decoding in hardware. The only problem is that there are no actual 965G ATX or m-ATX boards with DVI or HDMI, only VGA.

Next choice, AMD’s new 690 chipset looks interesting. I particularly like the MSI K9AGM2-FIH on Dabs.ie with integrated HDMI and VGA. The AMD690 chipset has lots of good value boards with HDMI and or DVI and or VGA. But the GPU is ATI and has all sorts of issues like not supporting XVideo and messing up S3 suspend and resume.

NVidia are not really an option at this stage because I have yet to find a board with integrated HDMI or DVI.

I know AMD marketing recently announced at the RedHat summit that they are going to improve their ATI drivers for Linux, but how much of this is fact? Their track record for keeping promises of that sort is not exactly very good.

Have I missed out on some other option? Should I wait until something better comes along? Or should I just buy the AMD690 board and hope for the best?

Categories: Hardware, Linux
  1. gRRosminet
    May 28, 2007 at 12:52 pm

    I don’t know if it is due to the fact that it was HP boxes, but all my tests to combine ATI chipsets & Linux led me to the failure : SATA not recognized or even unability to load the installation system. I didn’t try the AMD690, but you can imagine that personnaly I would not buy it if I don’t have any insurance that it will work !

  2. May 29, 2007 at 12:08 pm

    I have google’d a couple of the new AMD690 boards and they seem to work OK as far as SATA and the like. SATA has overtaken PATA in terms of support in the Linux Kernel so I’m not too worried about that. It’s the ability to output full 1080p resolution from wmv, h264 and divx that I ‘m worried about. I would also prefer to have my video decoded by the integrated graphics rather that CPU if possible.

    Apologies for any delays in approving comments. I’m currently on vacation in China and WordPress’s IP space is blocked.

  3. angusb
    August 21, 2007 at 1:18 pm

    I am in the same boat as you, I want a twin DVB tuner linux HTPC with the capability to output 1080p to a DVI/HDMI enabled screen. For my tests so far I have been using freevo but I like Myth and I may well use it when I build the eventual pc. After having had some pretty extensive misery with a GeForce FX5200 and reading Tim Small’s post on http://www.gossamer-threads.com/lists/engine?do=post_view_printable;post=254009;list=mythtv I decided it might be worth trying out Intel’s linux drivers so I am waiting for the G35 chipset to come out. Then I can have a board with HDMI built in, 1080p output, and decent linux support.

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