Linked by Jordan Spencer Cunningham on Wed 23rd Jun 2010 06:23 UTC
Original OSNews Interviews It's been a while since any of us have seen head or tail of the Open Graphics Project, but they haven't been just sitting around twiddling thumbs. Enjoy an in-depth interview between OSNews and Timothy Miller, the founder of the Open Graphics Project and the main man behind the drive that keeps it going, and Michael Dexter, Program Director at Linux Fund and a key player in Linux Fund's partnership with the OGP. Though it's been some time since there has been much public action, much of the work that the OGP has been putting into the OGD1 is finally coming to fruition.
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Comment by Parry Hotter
by Parry Hotter on Wed 23rd Jun 2010 21:13 UTC
Parry Hotter
Member since:
2007-07-20

Interesting, thanks for doing this interview. I wouldn't take the lack of comments so far as a sign of anything but a good and thoroughly done interview. ;)

Reply Score: 1

RE: Comment by Parry Hotter
by Nitrodist on Thu 24th Jun 2010 11:16 UTC in reply to "Comment by Parry Hotter"
Nitrodist Member since:
2010-04-09

This is really interesting, I have been following the project on OSnews since its inception.

What struck me as pretty cool was the idea the board could also be used for audio etc. Neat!

Reply Score: 1

Interesting
by daddio on Wed 23rd Jun 2010 21:18 UTC
daddio
Member since:
2007-07-14

I guess most of us take for granted that video hardware is a problem that has been "solved".
I guess the knowledge to do advanced video, 3d etc is concentrated in the few companies that do this stuff like ATI, via, nvidia.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Interesting
by shiny on Thu 24th Jun 2010 02:11 UTC in reply to "Interesting"
shiny Member since:
2005-08-09

Although today it might look like we have plenty of options regarding hardware with open drivers, just a few short years ago basically none of the big players supported FLOSS community.

Reply Score: 2

Emulator support
by Neolander on Thu 24th Jun 2010 08:19 UTC
Neolander
Member since:
2010-03-08

They should have a team writing patches for QEMU and Bochs in order to make them emulate their hardware, if it's not already the case.

Otherwise, I don't see people coding drivers for $800 hardware that probably has about the same performance as a Radeon 9600, twice its power consumption, and less than a thousandth of its user base. Nice project, though.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Emulator support
by WereCatf on Thu 24th Jun 2010 10:47 UTC in reply to "Emulator support"
WereCatf Member since:
2006-02-15

Otherwise, I don't see people coding drivers for $800 hardware that probably has about the same performance as a Radeon 9600, twice its power consumption, and less than a thousandth of its user base. Nice project, though.

It's not too powerful, indeed, but it was never even meant to be. The whole point of OGD1 is that you can customize ANY part of it as you see fit with detailed instructions as to how to do it and all, and as such it's an absolutely fantastic piece of hardware for anyone who is genuinely interested in hardware development as opposed to software development, and it could f.ex. be hugely useful to engineering students et al.

I personally wouldn't know what to do with OGD1, but hey, I don't belong in the target audience anyway. And from what I've seen at offer elsewhere it seems very competitive compared to other similar products, both performance- and pricewise, not to mention it being completely open and as such allowing for larger amount of cooperation and experimentation between the developers.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Emulator support
by Bill Shooter of Bul on Thu 24th Jun 2010 15:21 UTC in reply to "Emulator support"
Bill Shooter of Bul Member since:
2006-07-14

I agree, emulator support would be nice. I also think Radeon 9600 performance is a pipe dream.

However, it still has a lot of value for people, like me. It was really frustrating writing embedded software that controlled everything at a low level, but I couldn't touch the code that ran on the FPGA out of verilog ignorance. I did identify a couple of bugs in the FPGA implementation, but we had to contract out that work to the author of the original code and convince him that the bug was real.

Reply Score: 2

Some lacks
by vodoomoth on Thu 24th Jun 2010 10:56 UTC
vodoomoth
Member since:
2010-03-30

Thanks indeed for the article.

However, I (maybe like some other people who'll read it) have no idea what "FPGA" stands for. Ditto for "ODG1", although I can easily guess the "G" is for graphic(s). But guessing isn't knowing and educating is what OSnews is about. For me.

Edited 2010-06-24 10:57 UTC

Reply Score: 1

RE: Some lacks
by Morin on Thu 24th Jun 2010 12:47 UTC in reply to "Some lacks"
Morin Member since:
2005-12-31

FPGA = field programmable gate array. A special kind of chip that can be programmed. However, unlike a CPU, you don't program a sequence of instructions, but rather a set of parallel interconnected data processing units that compute boolean logic functions. The programming model is very much like designing a custom chip, so programming these things is very much considered "hardware design" - and in fact, an FPGA configuration (i.e. the "software for it) can be turned into a real chip with a fair amount of work.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Some lacks
by vodoomoth on Thu 24th Jun 2010 14:42 UTC in reply to "RE: Some lacks"
vodoomoth Member since:
2010-03-30

Then I was wrong for the 'G'. That's why I hate guessing.

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: Some lacks
by diakonos on Fri 25th Jun 2010 15:11 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Some lacks"
diakonos Member since:
2009-10-30

Sorry, wrong again, you were on the right track the first time. ;-)

Here's my understanding of their situation:   The Open Graphics project wants to build a graphics card, but the fabrication is insanely expensive.   They built a flexible board that, from the spec's, can do graphics.   (See also, "late binding" in the context of computer programming languages.)

The financial reasoning is that they can sell these boards to any tinkerer, student, or even a professional hardware engineer.   Not to ignore video performance that's now merely acceptable, it's so much more than a video card that they will cover their costs when (I hope) people soak them up as fast as they're made.   We need more stuff like this for hobbyists to disrupt the market.

Reply Score: 1

PCI Bus
by Nitrodist on Thu 24th Jun 2010 12:59 UTC
Nitrodist
Member since:
2010-04-09

In other news Intel is about ready to do away with the PCI spec. I hope we can see PCI express versions of this card soon.

http://hardware.slashdot.org/story/10/06/23/1751244/Intel-Says-Fare...

Reply Score: 1

RE: PCI Bus
by Neolander on Thu 24th Jun 2010 14:57 UTC in reply to "PCI Bus"
Neolander Member since:
2010-03-08

It looks like a reproductible behavior from Intel that once a standard starts to be properly documented on the internet, it's replaced by a new one which isn't.

Go and figure out why hardware support is so poor in hobby OSs...

Edited 2010-06-24 14:57 UTC

Reply Score: 2

What about a real GPU?
by biffuz on Thu 24th Jun 2010 13:15 UTC
biffuz
Member since:
2006-03-27

Instead of this, why didn't they design a real GPU in an open source fashion?
This thing will never reach the hands of anyone who isn't an hardware designer, and won't definitively be of any help to open up the hardware market. A real GPU instead could be manufactured by any silicon fab with its own customizations.

Back at school we were busy designing our own electronics circuits, drawing the schematics with OrCAD, and print to real PCBs. But we couldn't go beyond very simple digital appliances, because of lack of time and knowledge - both limits which can be overcome with the power of open source.
I would love to go to a website, download the schematics of, say, a USB sound card, customize it, have the PCB printed by a local company for a few bucks, and solder the parts on it.
Extend this to microchips and your open hardware is served - I can't see a local company manufacture a single microchip for me for a few bucks in the foreseeable future, but at least they could offer a large choice of them.

Reply Score: 1

RE: What about a real GPU?
by theosib on Thu 24th Jun 2010 14:02 UTC in reply to "What about a real GPU?"
theosib Member since:
2006-03-02

The main purpose behind OGD1 is to provide a platform for developing a "real GPU."

Now, a "real GPU" contains dozens to hundreds of small parallel stream processor cores. GPUs actually have more transistors than CPUs to fit on all this hardware.

Also, we are developing a "real GPU", and we have a spec for it. If you're interested, join the mailing list and help us out.

Lastly, to fabricate a run of "real GPUs" would cost millions of dollars. That's just manufacturing. Forget design, which you can't pull out of your arse either, and for that, we need manpower.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: What about a real GPU?
by fithisux on Thu 24th Jun 2010 16:58 UTC in reply to "RE: What about a real GPU?"
fithisux Member since:
2006-01-22

Lastly, to fabricate a run of "real GPUs" would cost millions of dollars. That's just manufacturing. Forget design, which you can't pull out of your arse either, and for that, we need manpower.



As far as I understand OGD1 will never be for end-users. I wonder about donations.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: What about a real GPU?
by theosib on Fri 25th Jun 2010 02:50 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: What about a real GPU?"
theosib Member since:
2006-03-02

No, OGD1 itself is not intended for most end users. Hobbyists who want to do FPGA development would find it useful for lots of things, and THEY are "end users" in that domain. But most people are not chip designers. OGD1's purpose is to provide chip designers with a platform they can use to develop (prototype) products that can be turned into end-user products.

Reply Score: 2

Comment by clhodapp
by clhodapp on Thu 24th Jun 2010 17:36 UTC
clhodapp
Member since:
2009-12-04

edit: wrong thread

Edited 2010-06-24 17:38 UTC

Reply Score: 1

I really fail to see the point...
by spanglywires on Thu 24th Jun 2010 21:48 UTC
spanglywires
Member since:
2006-10-23

Servers have no need of graphics, and joe public asks if it can run Crysis.

The problem is getting specs opened up, not rolling your own sub-par hardware for $$$$'s. All that time and money would have been better spent getting vendors to open up specs for hardware, or committing to release driver source under an *open* license so all OS's can benefit.

Now i could be wrong, since they've produced some other useful hardware bits, but I can't help but feel theres more useful LGPL designs at http://opencores.org/.

Reply Score: 1

theosib Member since:
2006-03-02

Hardware vendors typically only open up specs when they're pressured to, sometimes by market demand, and sometimes by the strong arm of people like Theo de Raadt who somehow manages to be able to influence stock prices. Personally, I have no interest in fighting with these companies. They have their business, and we FOSS enthusiasts are like a bunch of annoying flies interfering with their primary purpose, which is to make profit and lock in customers so they can make more profit.

What I really want to do is develop hardware that is friendly to free software from the outset. This way, there is no fight. Just science and engineering.

I have nothing against capitalism and business. I think good money could be made from open hardware, if we could only get enough starting capital to get the ball rolling. But I'm more motivated by solving problems than just making money for its own sake. I'm more interested in community than my own profit margin. And if I did find myself able to make an income from this, I would be happiest if a lot of other enthusiasts were making an income from it right along with me.

Reply Score: 2