[ubuntu-x] Add tag for GPU fan related problems? [was: Tagging Xorg bugs (especially -intel)]

Martin Olsson mnemo at minimum.se
Fri May 8 15:43:18 BST 2009

Thanks for the info unggnu..

Is there any reason why your modded firmware image can't ship in the
ubuntu kernel? low 3D perf? does it permanently alter the hw or is it
one of those firmware blobs that the kernel supplies every time on boot?

While I don't think a tag can fix bugs it can help us chart out the territory
where the ubuntu experience is not great yet and it can help us build a better
case when escalating to upstream.

In general, are you sure the situation is still that bad? AMD has published a ton of
nice docs in the last 2 years. Just yesterday they release 3D specs for R600/R700:

Why would they publish specs on 3D stuff but then hold back on something as
trivial as fan control? Also, according to Phoronix, they introduced PowerPlay
in fglrx in 2005 so at least basic components of that technology is pretty _old_
given that it was on the market for years before coming to fglrx. This seriously
limits the ability of people to use their cards after all. It doesn't exactly
make sense to me, but then again this kind of stuff rarely does I suppose.

All AMD docs are here in case anyone wants to grep through them:


I looked around a bit in these docs and found nothing _obviously_ useful.
Of course I'm royally clueless when it comes to this type of low level stuff.
None of the docs explicitly mention "fan" (except for "triangle fan" which
is completed non-related of course) but I assume fan control can be connected
to general "power state" and there is plenty of references to that if
you search for "power". Maybe stuff like powering down the DRAM isn't
what's needed though, that sounds more like for suspend/resume etc.

Especially since fglrx ships the "aticonfig" tool that has an option called
--set-power-state, that makes me think the explicit references to POWER_STATE
in the given AMD docs could be potentially useful here? Also, since there
is a userspace tool for it, there is probably just some ioctl() or register
or something you need to poke for setting the power mode?

Another interesting option here would be to factor out the proprietary
aticonfig tool into its own package then just run:
aticonfig --set-powerstate=1
or similar, before using the free driver. That way we'd get way more users
on the free driver and more bug reports etc. We can also do this _only_ for
cards we have confirmed this "full fan" behavior on so we don't risk
hurting 3D perf on cards where the fan magically work for some reason.

Finally for reference, here is the bug report about now being able to
use -ati because fans run at full speed:


unggnu wrote:
> Hi,
> it has most likely something to do with Powerplay features of the ATI 
> cards which isn't supported in the free driver and which is still not 
> documented. So atm there isn't much they can do about it. But I heard 
> that someone of the Ubuntu devs is working on this but without docs it 
> will take a long time I guess. Maybe AMD will release them soon.
> I personally changed my firmware to undervoltage/-clock my GPU to get 
> rid of the noise and fglrx. Without it you really can't use the free 
> driver with HD4870 if your aren't deaf but the proprietary driver is so 
> buggy that this was the only option for me.
> The tag would be fine of course but wouldn't help much. It is up to 
> upstream and the graphic company to get rid of the fan problem.
> unggnu
> Martin Olsson wrote:
>> One guy in the fglrx perf bug said the main reason he uses fglrx
>> and not the open source driver is because the -ati driver is running
>> his GPU fans on full power _all the time_ which I can imagine is
>> really annoying. He said it was even higher priority to him than
>> getting nice 3D perf.
>> Does ubuntu-x own such bugs or not? I'm asking this in particular
>> because while googling around I found this on ideastorm which
>> is a pretty nice idea that suggests that GPU fan control be
>> moved into the kernel because otherwise the fans usually go
>> "all in" until you get into X and the X driver can turn them off:
>> http://brainstorm.ubuntu.com/idea/5852/
>> (however, I assume the existence of this ideastorm entry means
>> that the xorg team currently owns all of the bugs, no? I wonder
>> how that works out in server like scenarios like "home media center"
>> or whatever.. that must be painful)
>> As a first step, how about adding a LP tag for bugs relating to fans?
>> 		Martin

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