Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 8th Jun 2007 20:02 UTC, submitted by Michael
AMD "Last week we had published The Truth About ATI/AMD & Linux, and to no real surprise, the feedback ranged from beliefs that it was propaganda to others being grateful that AMD finally shared some additional information with their Linux customers about the fglrx development cycle. While the article was far from being propaganda, what had outraged a number of open-source developers were AMD's comments on the R200 support or there the lack of. In this article, we have a few additional comments to share along with what some open-source developers had to say about AMD's information."
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no surprises
by lazywally on Fri 8th Jun 2007 22:00 UTC
lazywally
Member since:
2005-07-06

Original R200 specs from ATI were provided to only a few people, under NDA, and were quite incomplete. I didn't know that, but it really shouldn't... and doesn't... surprise me.

Same feeling here.

I think companies like ATI and nVidia will always keep the drivers for the high end cards closed. Not because they are "bad" people or because the code is poorly written or they just love their drivers; but because releasing source code gives away all the hardware details which is suicide in the market.

Those who use Linux for graphically demanding applications will have to make do with binary blobs.

Reply Score: 5

RE: no surprises
by msundman on Fri 8th Jun 2007 22:29 in reply to "no surprises"
msundman Member since:
2005-07-06

> releasing source code gives away all the hardware details

I don't believe that for a second. I might believe that the source code might hint at a few design details, but nothing substantial, and certainly not everything or even much.

Reply Parent Score: 4

RE[2]: no surprises
by lazywally on Sat 9th Jun 2007 01:02 in reply to "RE: no surprises"
lazywally Member since:
2005-07-06

There is a lot to hide in modern high end GPUs in a competitive market. GPUs have a lot of additions on top of the usual CPU, registers, bus architecture - which can be extracted from the drivers. Simple things like what the register sizes are, how floating point numbers are dealt with - stored, operated on etc can be easily read from (commented) source files while general system behavior can be "guessed" quite accurately.

Take a look at the source code for the nv driver, originally written by nVidia to clear the doubts. Even when these companies do release open drivers, they play dirty tricks like removing comments, making the code harder to understand etc.

nv_hw.c has 3 lines of comments for ~1600 lines of code (w/o counting the license, copyright etc).

Its not a question of belief. These are verifiable facts.

edit : I do share the general frustration about the unwillingness of companies to open drivers, but I also understand that not everyone believes in free software, or not everyone can afford to do so all the time.

Edited 2007-06-09 01:04

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE: no surprises
by codergeek42 on Sat 9th Jun 2007 05:11 in reply to "no surprises"
codergeek42 Member since:
2006-01-07

"[...] but because releasing source code gives away all the hardware details which is suicide in the market."

If this is truly and veritably the case with these drivers, then the drivers and hardware are flawed by design. The source code need only detail the *interface* to the card, not necessarily the _internals_ of it.

The commands that my OS of choice gives to the hardware, and how that hardware actually runs those commands are two totally separate things. (For example, my Linux kernel build is continually using x86_64 instructions to manipulate my Core2's hardware....but the Core2 chip itself actually compiles those instructions in microcode to a RISC-like set of operations which it then runs on the hardware.)

Reply Parent Score: 4

RE[2]: no surprises
by leech on Sat 9th Jun 2007 13:31 in reply to "RE: no surprises"
leech Member since:
2006-01-10

Exactly what I was thinking. Just like OpenGL is an API, it tells the video card what to do, and from there the video card processes it. Isn't that what the P word is for in GPU?

And damned if the video card manufacturers would have to actually compete on merits of better internal architecture on their cards rather than "my drivers are more stable than yours."

The world of software would simply be better if they could release the specifications. Imagine an open source driver for windows as well (personally I think ATI and nVidia's drivers kind of suck under it as well, damn Matrox for leaving the video card industry.)

Reply Parent Score: 4

RE[2]: no surprises
by makc on Sat 9th Jun 2007 18:05 in reply to "RE: no surprises"
makc Member since:
2006-01-11

> but the Core2 chip itself actually compiles those instructions in microcode to a RISC-like set of operations which it then runs on the hardware.

Which is a 'dirty' trick to maintain backwards compatibility, just it's quite fast as it's in hw.

Still, the same may happen with new DX10 compliant cards. The API between DX and drivers is precise and compelling. 'Public', somehow.
And it's not unreasonable that vendors might decide to implement it in hw, plus something else eventually.

Eventually the specs will open, driven by the emerging middleware for GPGPU market. Still this will happen, IMHO, after the yet-to-start-for-real market will have settled a bit - or to give an end to the battles.

Reply Parent Score: 3