Sunday, August 7, 2016

Modern Day PowerPC Hardware Pt.3 --Graphics Cards

Many video cards that can be used on a PowerPC system running Linux.  My experience is with a Power Mac 11,2.  This system comes with a stock Apple/open firmware graphics card installed in the 16X PCIe slot.  However, most modern graphics cards will work with the 11,2 using Linux.  Here are the options I know of using this system:  

Stock Apple Nvidia GeForce 6600/6600LE:  If using the stock card that came with the system, Linux will use the open source nouveau driver.  These cards are pretty underpowered compared to other options, and I'd suggest using something else.  

Other Nvidia cards:  The open source nouveau driver is the only option for PowerPC systems.  In my experience with the nouveau driver, it does well with most tasks, but has some issues with accelerated 3D.  However, my understanding is that more recent versions of nouveau than what I've used are much better.  

AMD Radeon cards:  The open source radeon driver is the only option for PowerPC systems.  In my experience, the radeon driver handles 2D and 3D acceleration and video decoding/playback very well.  However, there are certain cards and driver versions that don't play well with PowerPC.  I've used a Radeon HD 4550.  My understanding is that Radeon HD 4000 series cards, HD 5000 series cards, HD 6000 series BARTS cards, and possibly newer cards work well with most current PowerPC distributions.  

Special Note:  If running a Power Mac 11,2 system, open firmware will look for an open firmware graphics card (the stock Apple card) during start-up.  Generally, if the card is not present, the system will not continue booting up.  There is a way around this, but for system stability, it is best to leave the stock Apple card in the 16X PCIe slot, and install the new graphics card in the 8X PCIe slot.  

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