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Graphics Software Linux

AMD Releases Open-Source R600/700 3D Code 307

Michael writes "AMD has just released code that will allow for open-source 3D acceleration on their ATI R600 and R700 graphics cards, including all of their newest Radeon HD 4xxx products. This code consists of a demo program that feeds the commands to the hardware, updates to their RadeonHD driver, and a Direct Rendering Manager update. With this code comes working 2D EXA acceleration support for these newer ATI graphics processors as well as basic X-Video support. AMD will be releasing sanitized documentation for these new ATI GPUs in the coming weeks. Phoronix has an article detailing what's all encompassed by today's code drop as well as the activities that led to this open-source code coming about for release."
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AMD Releases Open-Source R600/700 3D Code

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @12:37AM (#26265261)

    Or you know, it could be doing what they've been planning to do for several months now.

  • by dfn_deux ( 535506 ) <> on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @12:40AM (#26265277) Homepage
    This seems to confirm what people have been predicting all along, that OSS philosophy is driving competition between vendors to cater to their customers' needs. Nvidia, Intel, and now ATI all providing increasing levels of documentation and code support in competitive volleys. I for one welcome our new 3d accelerated overlords.
  • by Tubal-Cain ( 1289912 ) * on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @12:54AM (#26265345) Journal
    The scenario you describe has one issue: last week's dev code is copyrighted by the company, not the developers. They probably needed to have some long conversations with the lawyers and accountants to get this done.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @12:59AM (#26265369)

    I chose ATI over Nvidia in my most recent graphics card purchase because of ATI's policy.

    Thanks ATI; it's the right thing, and it will help your revenue.

  • Re:Wow (Score:4, Insightful)

    by grimwell ( 141031 ) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @01:09AM (#26265413)

    ATI's linux drivers are still craptastic... not likely to change in the next few months. You're still better off with Nvidia for linux.

  • by nschubach ( 922175 ) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @01:30AM (#26265509) Journal

    There are people that believe the "Gates Foundation" is more of a marketing move than a moral standpoint. When you give that much money under the name of a company founder, you don't need advertisement... Viral marketing kicks in and it's spread by word of mouth. They can spend money on things they want to do and get free advertisement "credit" for the company.

  • by zappepcs ( 820751 ) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @01:45AM (#26265563) Journal

    The parent has pegged a round hole with a square question. Hardware support in Linux works well if you build your own machines, or happen to get one with supported hardware. How do you find a system that is fully supported and for which distributions?

    This is still a problem for F/OSS software. Some distributions are better at handling the problem than others. For many end users, finding a proprietary driver and installing it on Linux is a deal-breaker.

    I'm glad to see that ATI is moving toward support for all OS software, but it still leaves the general community with a problem. That problem won't go away until hardware manufacturers support F/OSS out of the box. It means changing their model and prospective future business plans to some extent.

    I'm willing to bet that if everyone who *REALLY* wants to see great F/OSS drivers for ATI were to plop down $5 USD it would make a difference to how they are thinking about releasing drivers. Yes, $50,000 might not be much but it also might make a difference to ATI. This falls into a category of donations that I've talked about before.

    Finding who to donate to is not always easy since many apps are hidden from the user, such as Samba, drivers, etc. It would be good if there were some place people could just drop a donation for the distribution they are using and feel safe that some percentage of that went to all those apps that are part of the distribution. This always brings up some heart felt discussion, but I think something like this is an awesome thing that would help drive better development for F/OSS software. See, getting $1.75 per user is a lot of money to some F/OSS teams. Hell, even fifty cents would be a lot more than they are getting now. So a donation of 50 or 75 bucks could mean a lot to many people. I try to donate to the apps that I use the most and I KNOW how difficult it is to do that.

    If anyone is interested in progressing such a thing, contact me. I can probably find some time to donate to this as a project.

  • by plover ( 150551 ) * on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @01:52AM (#26265587) Homepage Journal

    Why can't it be both? I'd say the Gates Foundation has been far more successful at promoting Microsoft than some of their more direct efforts. []

    We all joke about his billions of dollars, but to see them put to use attempting to vaccinate an entire continent, I gotta tell ya that is a pretty damned impressive thing to do.

    Don't get me wrong, donations of time and money to Open Source projects are also good and noble things, and they provide infinitely-copyable and long-lasting amounts of good. But if someone asked me "who did more good, the guy who saved x-hundred-thousand kids or the guy who donated an improved scheduler algorithm to the Linux core?" there's only one way a human being could answer that question. There is a different question in there, and that is "who donated more overall effort?" Gates' money made him rich enough that he may not even feel the pinch of spending $37 billion, but the coder likely sweated over his efforts for months, sacrificing evenings and dinners with his S.O., etc. And I suspect its part of the job of the foundation to ensure the first form of the question is asked on camera, and not the second.

  • Re:Wow (Score:5, Insightful)

    by steveha ( 103154 ) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @02:02AM (#26265635) Homepage

    You're still better off with Nvidia for linux.

    Well, for Linux gaming, you are, for now anyway. But over the long term, we should get free, open-source drivers, which means drivers that actually work. In the long run, you may be better off with ATI cards.

    And, I will be voting with my dollars: I'll now try to buy ATI cards where it makes sense, partly because for the long term I think they will be a win, but also to thank ATI for doing something I wanted them to do.


  • Re:Hallejulla! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SpaceLifeForm ( 228190 ) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @02:09AM (#26265661)

    It appears that you have an itch that needs scratching.

    Keyword: current

  • Re:Heck yeah (Score:4, Insightful)

    by symbolset ( 646467 ) * on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @02:53AM (#26265813) Journal

    Yeah... is there a catch?

    No. You can be forgiven for asking the question, given history, but... no.


    The microcode for the newest GPUs has also been released.

    This is the real deal. Actual specifications about how the hardware interfaces actually work in a format that can't be encumbered by copyrights or patents. NVidia and Intel will follow with their own release announcements within weeks, or watch their proprietary crap die. This is "a race to the bottom" where the "bottom" is "fully open". The funny thing is that the "bottom" is a door to a whole new world of opportunity.

    To be fair Intel has been fairly open, and Nvidia has been opening up. Windows only video drivers are soon to be a legacy best forgotten. Please hold a moment of silence for the brave chairs that are about to lose their integrity in Redmond.

  • by dfn_deux ( 535506 ) <> on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @05:03AM (#26266243) Homepage
    Heh, just occurred to me that withing the next few months Toshiba's Open Solaris branded/installed laptops powered by centrino chips will, likely, have full drivers for Windows, Solaris, and Linux making a purchase of their gear a pretty solid vote for consumer choice.
  • by Jah-Wren Ryel ( 80510 ) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @06:46AM (#26266555)

    We all joke about his billions of dollars, but to see them put to use attempting to vaccinate an entire continent, I gotta tell ya that is a pretty damned impressive thing to do.

    Sounds good on the face of it doesn't it? But look a little closer. The entire vaccination program is about intellectual property - countries have to forgo local pharma factories that produce medicine without paying royalties - despite it being perfectly legal to do so since most of those countries do not recognize foreign patents anyway.

    But if someone asked me "who did more good, the guy who saved x-hundred-thousand kids or the guy who donated an improved scheduler algorithm to the Linux core?" there's only one way a human being could answer that question.

    If you are going to cherry pick the question, then of course the outcome is predetermined. But what about taking into account the source of all that money in the first place? How much of the world's GDP has microsoft skimmed off the top? Money that would have been re-invested into the domestic economies all around the world, resulting in improved economic and living conditions without having to go through all the fat-cat middlemen, each taking their cut of that money before it eventually comes back around in the form of a "charity?"

  • Re:Heck yeah (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Seriousity ( 1441391 ) <> on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @07:36AM (#26266769)

    Nvidia has been opening up. Windows oly video drivers are soon to be a legacy best forgotten.

    If this is true, then in all seriousity it is a joyous occasion, and hence a time of celebration. Anybody care to post a link confirming this? Since I switched from XP to Ubuntu the proprietary drivers for my Nvidia 8600 GT have been drilling a hole in my sanity, and I fear that soon my hair may turn prematurely grey.

  • Re:X-Hallejulla! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pdusen ( 1146399 ) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @08:26AM (#26266933) Journal
    True or not, they're still giving the Linux community exactly what they've been asking for: documentation to write good drivers for their devices. It's win-win for everyone.
  • Re:X-Hallejulla! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by the_brobdingnagian ( 917699 ) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @08:37AM (#26266975) Homepage
    I get the impression that the most vocal group asks for "Linux drivers", even less ask for "open source Linux drivers". Just a few ask for documentation. I'm glad they released the documentation. There are more OS's than Linux and maintaining an undocumented driver will probably be a hell.
  • Re:Useless.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by piquadratCH ( 749309 ) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @09:53AM (#26267431)
    Well, the sanitized docs for the R300/R500 chips lead to very usable opensource 2D/3D drivers in less than half a year. Let's give AMD the benefit of the doubt here, they've proven to deliver useful documentation in the past.
  • by RMingin ( 985478 ) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @10:17AM (#26267569) Homepage

    Dual-head is generic and a freebie on all current cards.

    Under 100$ would have you looking at the Radeon HD 4670. Lots of them on Newegg for between 60-80USD. Very respectable performance, especially for the price and given the featureset.

    For just a hair over 100$ you can snag a Radeon HD4830. It's just like the top end cards, just some shader units disabled and the clock speeds dropped a bit.

    If you really want to show your support, however, I'd suggest pinching one or two additional pennies and grabbing one of the top end Radeon HD 4870s. They're as good as a single GPU gets in AMD-land lately, and a vast selection are available at the 200$ mark. Even the 1GB versions are available for about 20-30$ more, and those ought to remain future-proof for quite a while to come.

    There're plenty of options.

  • Re:Lawl? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MostAwesomeDude ( 980382 ) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @10:24AM (#26267621) Homepage

    But how can I be the youngest member if I don't act cute?

    Or, on a more serious note, why complain? I'm the only member to actually comment here, and with a nice, big, juicy, informative FAQ, no less.

  • Re:Hallejulla! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by KovaaK ( 1347019 ) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @10:51AM (#26267793) Journal

    Lots of good information in parent's post that I've sort of imagined to be true but had no evidence - wish I had mod points for you.

    As for my experience between the two sets of drivers, I've been switching back and forth between ATI and Nvidia graphics cards for the past 4-5 computers that I've built. Feature-wise, (recently) both of them are pretty smooth about dual monitors, setting up custom resolutions/refresh rates without needing programs like reforce, and all sorts of bells and whistles that I'll never use.

    The only noticeable difference between the two that I've seen is that when the graphics card is having issues, ATI has a "VPU recovery" feature that is likely to prevent your computer from getting a BSOD, whereas Nvidia will just BSOD.

    I had an MSI motherboard (RS480-M2, iirc) that was having all sorts of issues despite replacing literally every piece of hardware in the tower. Turns out that any time I had a video card in the PCI-E slot, it would do weird things - and I even RMA'd the motherboard before figuring this out. Of course, I discovered this way too late. On-Board video worked fine, but my Nvidia card would BSOD (but worked fine in other computers), and the ATI card would go to black screens in games, then eventually reset itself and give me the VPU recovery error message.

    That feature alone seems like a major improvement over Nvidia's cards, but given that it rarely happens, it isn't a determining factor in which card I will select. Since that POS MSI board, I've only had one VPU recovery error, and I'm not even sure why that one happened yet...

  • Re:X-Hallejulla! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dan Ost ( 415913 ) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @11:25AM (#26268037)

    Whatever their motivations happen to be, they are doing exactly what the kernel developers have been asking them to do.

    If it saves ATI/AMD money, even better. Maybe other companies will see the light and follow suit.

  • Re:X-Hallejulla! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by msuarezalvarez ( 667058 ) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @11:27AM (#26268049)

    Well. The few who ask for documentation want to write open source drives which will provide drivers to the first group.

    You present the last group as a fringe group of fanatics... It is quite understandable that very few people will want documentation on graphic cards, for there are in fact very few people in the world who can understand it. And youseem to imply that because they are few, they are mostly negligible: that's a pretty absurd position.

  • Re:Heck yeah (Score:3, Insightful)

    by LWATCDR ( 28044 ) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @12:43PM (#26268751) Homepage Journal

    Okay I use Linux and I really do like FOSS but are you nuts?
    "NVidia and Intel will follow with their own release announcements within weeks, or watch their proprietary crap die."
    To be honest 99.99% of the people that use computers don't care if the driver is FOSS or not. The majority of these card are used on Windows boxes so FOSS doesn't matter to them.
    Then you have the majority of Linux users that just want drivers to work. All they will care about is if there cards work out of the box. Which will be a good thing but as long as they can click and install a driver that works they will also not care that much.

  • Re:Dammit (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ubergeek65536 ( 862868 ) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @12:45PM (#26268769)
    It is irrelevant if the supported hardware is useless for gaming for a 3D workstation. ATI and Nvidia are currently the only two that matter.
  • Re:Wow (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ThePhilips ( 752041 ) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @02:24PM (#26269685) Homepage Journal

    I'll now try to buy ATI cards where it makes sense

    With ATI 48x0 cards, it makes sense anyway: or you want to tank AMD for the OSS work or you want best price/performance ratio GPU available today. It is very hard to be wrong with the cards, unless you are a very demanding pedant with too much money.

  • Re:X-Hallejulla! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bored ( 40072 ) on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @02:23AM (#26277119)

    Maybe more people would understand it, if it were available. I know I didn't understand the virge manual when I first received it, but after extensive study it made more sense. Now it all seems pretty obvious when I pick it up. Frankly, I find the hardware register documentation to often be the most concise method of understanding a piece of hardware....

  • Re:Wow (Score:3, Insightful)

    by turing_m ( 1030530 ) on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @09:39PM (#26287565)

    I don't think the parent should be called a troll; It's a valid opinion. Up until now, nvidia is what you picked if you wanted: better compatibility with recent kernels easier installation better performance

    For sure. Of those who have bought the 780G (HD3200) for ideological reasons, a portion just get a cheap nvidia card to tide them over until the FOSS drivers get up to speed.

    So far I can't be bothered. And unless I develop an interest in running the latest games, my new system could last 10+ years. A year or two of poor performance was not a deal breaker. Having a fairly low wattage, functional system for the indefinite future was more important.

I was playing poker the other night... with Tarot cards. I got a full house and 4 people died. -- Steven Wright