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AMD Radeon RX 6800 and the RX 6800 XT are out today

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Today, AMD are bringing out the big guns with the formal release of their next generation desktop GPUs with the AMD Radeon RX 6800 and the RX 6800 XT. Announced back in late October, these cards are AMD's first to come with hardware accelerated Ray Tracing support. Although for Linux, we're still waiting on The Khronos Group to formalise the cross-vendor Ray Tracing Vulkan extensions for that.

Here's a reminder of the specifications:

  RX 6900 XT RX 6800 XT RX 6800
Compute Units 80 72 60
Process TSMC 7nm TSMC 7nm TSMC 7nm
Game clock (MHz) 2,015 2,015 1,815
Boost clock (MHz) 2,250 2,250 2,105
Infinity Cache (MB) 128 128 128
Memory 16GB GDDR6 16GB GDDR6 16GB GDDR6
TDP (Watt) 300 300 250
Price (USD) $999 $649 $579
Available 08/12/2020 18/11/2020 18/11/2020

For running them on Linux, the driver situation isn't the best. AMD have put out the Radeon Software for Linux version 20.45, which adds support for the Radeon RX 6800 Series but that driver only officially supports Ubuntu 20.04, RHEL/CentOS 7.9 and RHEL/CentOS 8.2. For Mesa drivers, you're going to need Linux Kernel 5.9, Mesa 20.2 (or newer) and also LLVM 11.0 which means most normal distributions will be missing out unless you're prepared to do major manual upgrades. So, unless you really know what you're doing with everything, you will likely want to hold off.

If you do manage to find one because, as expected, most places are sold out and you get everything it needs setup - expect to see some incredible performance. We don't get sent any hardware from AMD, so we're going by what others have been cooking up. It seems Level1Linux on YouTube are very happy with it, and the Phoronix benchmarks show them doing well too. From a price point of view, the performance does seem pretty amazing considering how close it appears to be with the NVIDIA 3080 and if you prefer the open source side of things it doesn't get better than this.

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
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76 comments
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chelobaka 19 Nov, 2020
Quoting: ShmerlOh, and by the way. Debian testing has kernel 5.9, Mesa 20.2.2 and llvm 11. So you basically don't need to compile anything if I understand correctly :) That's better for day 1 than RDNA 1 (Navi 1) release.

Unless you just want to benefit from even newer support in upstream versions, then it's compiling time anyway :)

Just don't forget to check if firmware is there. I had to install it manually on Debian Unstable this year for RX 5700XT because firmware package in the repo was about 1 year old there.
minfaer 19 Nov, 2020
Quoting: tuubiThese discussions tend to end up full of partisan hyperbole (often mostly based on hearsay), but in the end, both vendors are easy to live with these days for someone who just wants to play some games. No game requires the latest kernel or Wayland—so Nvidia's reluctance to play ball is almost irrelevant—but new kernels and Mesa packages are readily available on any mainstream distro for those who need them so us AMD/Mesa users are fine too.

That said, in my opinion and experience AMD currently has an edge on Linux even if you ignore the ethical and technical implications of Open Source vs proprietary. Personally I don't like to ignore these implications, so that's another reason I'm happier on AMD.

This sums up the discussion pretty nicely. And from my personal experience I agree with your opinion, I only experienced breakages on proprietary, and having acceleration in XWayland is a pretty strong argument for Intel AND AMD GPUs.

Quoting: slaapliedjeSo I really WANT to support AMD as I believe that the hardware should all have open source drivers. I just want it to be easier to do so without compromising convenience and stability by adding third party repos or compiling custom libraries.

Debian stable is great, I run it on some VServers, and they do amazing work for stability. But at a certain point, one has to admit that for supporting cutting edge hardware that just released yesterday on mainline packages, the model of releasing a new version in the year of the fox when the stars align in the ascendant of Virgo and three kings come to Bethlehem is maybe not the way to go. So On my gaming rig, I run Fedora 33 and it just works.
x_wing 19 Nov, 2020
Quoting: slaapliedjeSo I really WANT to support AMD as I believe that the hardware should all have open source drivers. I just want it to be easier to do so without compromising convenience and stability by adding third party repos or compiling custom libraries.

But how is easier Nvidia? AMD is offering exactly the same options on release as Nvidia does right now (on you want to tell me that, for example, you can get Nvidia 455.45.01 on day one from an official repo on any distro?). If you want to get the latest driver, almost on every distro you will have to do some extra step.


Last edited by x_wing on 19 November 2020 at 1:06 pm UTC
sketch 19 Nov, 2020
i managed to get a 6800, wondering if i will eventually be able to get a custom xt later...
slaapliedje 19 Nov, 2020
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Quoting: x_wing
Quoting: slaapliedjeSo I really WANT to support AMD as I believe that the hardware should all have open source drivers. I just want it to be easier to do so without compromising convenience and stability by adding third party repos or compiling custom libraries.

But how is easier Nvidia? AMD is offering exactly the same options on release as Nvidia does right now (on you want to tell me that, for example, you can get Nvidia 455.45.01 on day one from an official repo on any distro?). If you want to get the latest driver, almost on every distro you will have to do some extra step.
I don't run the latest drivers, like ever. I grab what the distro gives me. https://packages.debian.org/sid/nvidia-driver Or I can even pull from experimental https://packages.debian.org/experimental/nvidia-driver which currently has 455.38. Tiny bit behind, but still supports the RTX 3xxx cards. So yeah, much easier than AMD.

Also did discovery that nvidia now has an official means of installing for RHEL/Cent and Fedora, so you don't even need rpmfusion anymore (well unless you want 32bit support, doesn't seem like they care about that, as they're more focused on the drivers being used for server side stuff, as you know that's how they make their Linux money.)
minfaer 19 Nov, 2020
Quoting: slaapliedjeI don't run the latest drivers, like ever. I grab what the distro gives me. https://packages.debian.org/sid/nvidia-driver Or I can even pull from experimental https://packages.debian.org/experimental/nvidia-driver which currently has 455.38. Tiny bit behind, but still supports the RTX 3xxx cards. So yeah, much easier than AMD.

But if Your distro has the most recent proprietary packages of NVidia in their repo, but not the same for AMD, how does that mean the vendors are behaving differently?


Last edited by minfaer on 19 November 2020 at 4:27 pm UTC
Shmerl 19 Nov, 2020
slaapliedje 19 Nov, 2020
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Quoting: minfaer
Quoting: slaapliedjeI don't run the latest drivers, like ever. I grab what the distro gives me. https://packages.debian.org/sid/nvidia-driver Or I can even pull from experimental https://packages.debian.org/experimental/nvidia-driver which currently has 455.38. Tiny bit behind, but still supports the RTX 3xxx cards. So yeah, much easier than AMD.

But if Your distro has the most recent proprietary packages of NVidia in their repo, but not the same for AMD, how does that mean the vendors are behaving differently?
I can only hazard a guess that the AMDGPU pro drivers are harder to package, or under a non debian friendly license.
x_wing 20 Nov, 2020
Quoting: slaapliedjeI don't run the latest drivers, like ever. I grab what the distro gives me. https://packages.debian.org/sid/nvidia-driver Or I can even pull from experimental https://packages.debian.org/experimental/nvidia-driver which currently has 455.38. Tiny bit behind, but still supports the RTX 3xxx cards. So yeah, much easier than AMD.

It's not about running the latest driver now. This discussion is about having the drivers "easily available" on release date of the hardware. So, maybe you should check if 455.23.04 were available on September. Either way, someone already told you that for your distro you can already download the required kernel, mesa version and firmware and run a RX 6800 (if you can get one).

Quoting: slaapliedjeAlso did discovery that nvidia now has an official means of installing for RHEL/Cent and Fedora, so you don't even need rpmfusion anymore (well unless you want 32bit support, doesn't seem like they care about that, as they're more focused on the drivers being used for server side stuff, as you know that's how they make their Linux money.)

Just like AMD with their releases...

Quoting: slaapliedjeI can only hazard a guess that the AMDGPU pro drivers are harder to package, or under a non debian friendly license.

Well, AMD package release are deb and rpm files (with some deb package that may work out of the box in Debian). And repackaging is quite simple: https://aur.archlinux.org/cgit/aur.git/tree/PKGBUILD?h=amdgpu-pro-installer

I don't know, I really fail to see where you find a difficulty with AMD drivers :/
omer666 20 Nov, 2020
Quoting: slaapliedjeAlso did discovery that nvidia now has an official means of installing for RHEL/Cent and Fedora, so you don't even need rpmfusion anymore (well unless you want 32bit support, doesn't seem like they care about that, as they're more focused on the drivers being used for server side stuff, as you know that's how they make their Linux money.)
This is not true, Fedora allows adding Nvidia drivers on default installations using a separate repository which is actually managed by RPMfusion, which is not related to Nvidia, and that you need to enable manually.

As much as I understand that you had to mess with Mesa quite a bit in the past, here it seems AMD just did the best they can to add their new GPU to the open source stack as early as possible.

Yes, Debian stable is not a bleeding edge distro so you will either need to wait for a new release or to use testing, but that is something that you expect from a more "conservative" distro, and an issue not limited to GPUs.


Last edited by omer666 on 20 November 2020 at 5:59 am UTC
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