Saturday, March 27, 2010

Kernel Mode Setting

It looks like Kernel Mode Setting (KMS) for ATI chipsets has arrived on my Debian sid desktop system. As usual, I only realized this was happening after mplayer started complaining about the system being to slow. Errors in the X server logs revealed that indeed the Direct Rendering Infrastructure (DRI) was not working. Without DRI hardware acceleration, mplayer is definitely going to have trouble playing 720p video with soft subtitles.

This article indicated that the X server version was OK but I needed the latest Debian kernel package (2.6.32-10), which did indeed fix the DRI error and made mplayer much happier. However, it is not perfect. There are now artifacts appearing in the video during fast pan or tilt scenes. Even in an xterm, rapid scrolling results in noticable discontinuities.

The article mentions needing new microcode for the graphics chip. I haven't yet discovered if such microcode actually exists for the ancient R280 chipset on my ATI 9250 card. Or the problem may lie elsewhere. More digging is required. ^_^

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