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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RE[2]: no surprises
by lazywally on Sat 9th Jun 2007 01:02 UTC in reply to "RE: no surprises"
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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[3]: no surprises
by bugnotme on Sat 9th Jun 2007 01:53 in reply to "RE[2]: no surprises"
bugnotme Member since:

I cannot believe that GPUs have more to hide than conventional CPUs. If CPU manufacturers can release specifications (e.g. op-codes) without harming their business then surely so can GPU manufacturers*. It is high time people stopped putting up with this.

* We don't want source code, we want specifications on how to interface to the device.

Reply Parent Score: 5

RE[4]: no surprises
by lazywally on Sat 9th Jun 2007 13:56 in reply to "RE[3]: no surprises"
lazywally Member since:

* We don't want source code, we want specifications on how to interface to the device.

:-) We, on the other hand, want the companies to release drivers, even binary, of the same quality, with the same level of attention for our free platforms as they do with windows so our hardware work as well on Linux or BSD as they do on windows.

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[3]: no surprises
by butters on Sat 9th Jun 2007 13:30 in reply to "RE[2]: no surprises"
butters Member since:

Graphics hardware was born and raised just like any other bus device, but industry forces are putting graphics on a collision course with the CPU. The graphics vendors will need to confront the reality that graphics is becoming a special case of stream processing and a sibling of the logic and vector units in today's processor pipelines.

Today, graphics hardware is programmed using graphics APIs like OpenGL and lesser-known APIs for HPC applications. These interfaces call down into proprietary drivers to dispatch work to the GPU. In the future, graphics hardware will be targeted by compilers and virtual machines, much like CPUs.

Graphics vendors will have to decide whether to open their ISAs to allow free software compiler and virtual machine packages to target their hardware or to restrict their hardware to proprietary code generation tools. Choosing the closed route will be suicide in a market tightly bound to developer mindshare.

Intel's Larrabee project is a clear indication that graphics hardware is on an evolutionary course toward the same programming model we've been using for decades on CPUs. The central idea is to make graphics an extension of the x86 ISA. This will make compiler support simpler and more effective, especially for free software suites like GCC, and it will open the doors for the development of more powerful interfaces for graphics, multimedia, and scientific programming.

This is one of those issues where market forces will eventually demand an open approach. In the short-term, Intel will lead, AMD will waffle, and NVIDIA will stay the course. Those that believe that their drivers are a competitive advantage will ultimately realize that capability is the fundamental consideration.

It doesn't matter how many FPS you push in a particular game if you can't support the latest desktop effects or the new codec acceleration library. Open graphics will make way for growth outside of the high-end gaming market, whereas closed graphics vendors are relegated to one-trick ponies.

NVIDIA has already put decided to put all of their eggs in one basket, claiming that it would be foolish to go after Intel in the mainstream graphics market. Maybe they're right, and AMD is charting a course for failure. NVIDIA has chosen to target a mature market with well-known requirements. They'd rather dominate a stable market than compete vigorously in a growing market.

Both Intel and NVIDIA have sensible strategies with clear intentions. AMD is pandering to the free software community for no clear reason as they fail to compete favorably with NVIDIA on the high-end. They have an identity crisis to go along with their execution missteps. It's easy to argue that AMD is headed for tough times, but I'll reserve judgment since they are currently at the very bottom of their cyclical competitive position.

Reply Parent Score: 5