AMD’s position in the graphics market continues to be a tricky one. Although the company has important design wins in the console space – both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One are built around AMD CPUs with integrated AMD GPUs – its position in the PC space is a little more precarious. Nvidia currently has the outright performance lead, and perhaps more problematically, many games are to a greater or lesser extent optimized for Nvidia GPUs. One of the chief culprits here is Nvidia’s GameWorks software, a proprietary library of useful tools for game development – things like realistic hair and shadows, and physics processing for destructible environments – that is optimized for Nvidia’s cards. When GameWorks games are played on AMD systems, they can often do so with reduced performance or graphical quality.
To combat this, AMD is today announcing GPUOpen, a comparable set of tools to GameWorks. As the name would suggest, however, there’s a key difference between GPUOpen and GameWorks: GPUOpen will, when it is published in January, be open source. AMD will use the permissive MIT license, allowing GPUOpen code to be used without any practical restriction in both open and closed source applications, and will publish all code on GitHub.
Great move by AMD, and definitely a step up from Nvidia’s questionable closed tactics that only seem to harm users. HotHardware has more information on AMD’s extensive plans.
The million dollar question in my mind is: Does this make it easier to get higher quality open source graphics drivers for alternative OSes?