Greg Dolley’s Weblog

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Archive for November 17th, 2007

Certain Notebook ATI Video Card Drivers Not Supporting OpenGL 2.0 / How to Update Mobility Radeon Drivers

Posted by gregd1024 on November 17, 2007

Let me guess, you got here because you’re trying to find an updated driver for a notebook containing an ATI video card? Are you trying to find a driver that supports OpenGL 2.0? If you were like me — spent a chunk of change on a nice new laptop with an awesome video card, only to find that the driver only supported OpenGL 1.0 (or some version below 1.4) — then you were probably shocked to find that ATI, at the time of this writing, only released Mobility drivers up to the X1800 card. I have the ATI Mobility Radeon 2600 HD running on a Fujitsu N6460 and as you can imagine I was expecting full OpenGL 2.0 support when I bought it (after all, that’s what ATI advertises for this card), but nope, instead I was stuck with only OpenGL 1.0 fully supported and some functions of v1.1 supported. Needless to say, after the discovery of poor OpenGL support, I began searching ATI’s site for an updated driver — there was none. I searched forums, blogs, etc. for an updated driver written by ATI (third party drivers would have been my last resort), but still couldn’t find one. After searching what seemed to be the entire Internet, I found the solution. But first, let me give you a little background on why there are no updated ATI drivers out there.

The whole problem stems from a stupid policy OEM’s have toward ATI (Nvidia is not immune either — see the message on their website after you try selecting a “GeForce Go” model driver for downloading). In a nutshell, OEM’s pressure ATI not to provide support for their device in the Catalyst Mobility driver. This is really stupid. The concern of the OEM’s is that they themselves have their own support system in place and don’t want customers downloading reference drivers from ATI’s website. In my opinion, the type of computer users who know how drivers work and like to install their own are not the type of user that would call the OEM’s technical support line anyway. Terry Makedon, AMD manager for Software Product Management Graphics Product Group gave this statement to Driver Heaven (http://www.driverheaven.net) in April of 2007:

AMD (formerly ATI) introduced the concept of Catalyst Mobility which is a generic driver that works decently for most laptops. The only way we are able to do this is through permission by a laptop manufacturer (OEM) to include their device in the Catalyst Mobility. We were the first company to provide graphics drivers for laptops to the general public, and we believe there is great value in this. At this point we only have permission from a few vendors and I personally wish more of them would let us. My suggestion is you contact your manufacturer and ask them to have your laptop included in Catalyst Mobility. As for Vista specifically we do not have permissions yet, but as soon as we do we look forward to releasing Vista drivers for laptops.

OK, enough history. So what’s the solution? Easy, you need to download the desktop version of the driver for the card that is in your laptop (so for a Mobility Radeon 2600 HD, you would use the Radeon 2600 HD Series), run a program called Mobility Modder which modifies the desktop driver install files so they work with a notebook, and then simply run the modified setup. This version of the setup runs like any other driver install. When done you’ll have all the desktop driver features running on your laptop! You can get Mobility Modder and detailed installation instructions here: http://www.driverheaven.net/modtool/.

This program worked like a miracle for me! It saved me from returning my notebook (why would you buy a “gaming” laptop when almost all the games you play use OpenGL and now you can’t play them?). I really like Fujitsu notebooks in all respects, but the fact that they wrote what I believe to be an incomplete video driver and then have the audacity to release it as a “gaming” laptop is just beyond my comprehension. More than half the popular games out there use OpenGL, not Direct 3D! How can it be a gaming laptop if half the games won’t even run properly?! Most will run but will buckle down to using the software-rendered MCD driver for all OpenGL calls not supported by the ICD — an ICD (Installable Client Driver)  is the regular driver written for the video card (DOOM 3 looks very “interesting” running in almost 100% software mode). What were they thinking?! This is my third Fujitsu notebook and the two others I’ve owned supported the latest version of OpenGL that was available at the time of manufacturing. Why didn’t they do the same thing with the N6460 model?!?!?! Ugh!

OK, enough ranting. In case you’re wondering what my notebook specs are, here you go:

  • Intel Core 2 Duo Processor, T7100 @ 1.8GHz
  • 2GB RAM
  • Windows Vista 32-bit
  • ATI Mobility Radeon 2600 HD with 512MB HyperMemory (256MB dedicated, 256MB shared)

And here’s a screenshot of my Catalyst Control Center after updating the driver:

image

I don’t know why it displays the card as being an X2600 (it should be the regular 2600), but hey, everything works perfectly so I’m not worrying about it.

Anyway, I hope this article has saved you from pulling your hair out and I hope the solution works for you too.

-Greg Dolley

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