ATI’s lousy video card support

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh
March 4th, 2003 • 8:58 pm

I have been using ATI video cards in my Macintosh computers for ages. I have purchased several computers with built-in ATI video cards. I have purchased several retail models as well over the years (ATI XClaim VR, ATI Radeon PCI, ATI Radeon 8500).

In other words, they’ve made good money with me — and no doubt with many other Mac users over the years.

How can they justify, then, that their card software is still suffering from annoying, well-known bugs that have been documented for ages?

Case in point: black “blocks” flickering on the trail of the mouse pointer.

I have had this problem with my Radeon PCI card for ages. I use the Radeon PCI to drive a secondary monitor. (I could use the second port on my built-in Radeon 9000, but I’d rather save all the video RAM on that card to drive the main display.)

The problem is well documented, and acknowledged by ATI in an InfoBase article:

Mouse Pointer artifacts in some applications after installing September 2001 ROM update

This issue affects the following system configurations:
Retail versions of RADEON MAC EDITION (PCI and AGP)
Using Mac OS X version 10.1
After applying the September 2001 ATI ROM UPDATE

The September 2001 ATI ROM UPDATE was intended to resolve specific issues noted in the updates Release Notes .

In some instances, the mouse pointer will become corrupt while moving over blocks of text. This corruption will usually appear as a flickering black square and/or a rapid flashing between an I-bar and an arrow pointer.

This symptom does not appear to occur on all systems and does not occur with all applications.
At present this issue has been reported to occur with the following applications:
Microsoft Internet Explorer
Eudora Mail Reader

Other applications may be affected also.

ATI Software Engineering has been advised of this problem and is investigating.  Any updates will appear on this page when they become available.

INFO-BASE file # 3926

The tech note is, of course, incorrect. The problem doesn’t just affect the Radeon PCI under 10.1 after applying the September 2001 ATI ROM update. I am using Jaguar 10.2.3, and I’m still getting the artefacts, in Explorer and in other applications as well. And we are in March of 2003.

In other words, ATI has been “investigating” the problem for at least a year and a half. And has done nothing to fix it.

Shame on ATI.

Of course, if you write to them about this, they put the blame on Apple, saying that Apple are the ones developing OS X drivers for their cards. Trouble is, it’s not true. As far as I can tell, it’s a joint thing. ATI regularly posts driver updates on their own web sites. But these updates are, let’s say, “selective”. They tend to ignore older cards, even though these cards are fully supported by Apple.

I have had the opportunity to report on this particular issue before, in an editorial titled “Thoughts on the new ATI cards“. It’s an old article, but it’s still relevant, unfortunately.

In addition, it clearly sounds like this particular problem is a ROM-related problem, and therefore not something that can be fixed through a driver update, but rather through a ROM update, which can only be provided by ATI. And so far ATI has done nothing to fix the problem.

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