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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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  • Re:Hallejulla! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by WiiVault ( 1039946 ) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @12:37AM (#26265263)
    Thats true, but this sounds far more complex and useful that what has been released in the past, perhaps they are getting more serious. I would love to see good ATI drivers on OSolaris/ BSD and Linux. There is no reason we- the OSS community, can't have the best drivers, like we have the best web browsers.
  • by domatic ( 1128127 ) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @12:46AM (#26265303)

    Er, what exactly is Nvidia doing in this regard? They've put out more or less OK closed drivers for Linux for a number of years now but they go out of their way to frustrate FOSS efforts. The "open source" nv driver is obfuscated. About all you can say about it is that it compiles to a basic 2D driver.

    Intel releases fully realized drivers and some docs. ATI/AMD is releasing ever more complete docs and more or less cruddy closed drivers. With the help of Mr. Weite, VIA is starting to release docs and is co-operating with current FOSS driver authors. I don't see Nvidia doing anything of this sort.

  • Re:this is either (Score:3, Interesting)

    by _Sprocket_ ( 42527 ) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @12:47AM (#26265315)

    Or it could be a new direction spurred on by new bosses (read: AMD).

  • Wow (Score:4, Interesting)

    by shiftless ( 410350 ) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @12:59AM (#26265363) Homepage

    Every single 3D accelerator I have ever owned has been an NVidia, up until now. Not because I am an NVidia fan-boy, but because that's what I started with (TNT!) and (since I switched over to Linux) because NVidia has always been the best choice for Linux support. I have never considered ATI since their Linux drivers have been craptastic. But in between what I've heard of ATI drivers having improved lately, and now with these drivers being open source, I will definitely be giving ATI a look when I build my next PC in a few months. Thanks ATI!

  • Re:this is either (Score:3, Interesting)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @01:02AM (#26265385) Journal
    What you say is correct. This is why they have been having a series of conversations with lawyers and accountants. This plan has been in the works for some time now.
  • Re:Hallejulla! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by afidel ( 530433 ) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @01:14AM (#26265439)
    I'm hoping for an open source Windows driver, the thing holding me back from using ATI has been the absolute crap drivers they supply.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @01:16AM (#26265447)

    Er, what exactly is Nvidia doing in this regard? They've put out more or less OK closed drivers for Linux for a number of years now but they go out of their way to frustrate FOSS efforts.

    You half-answered your own question. They've been putting out fairly stable and fast drivers long before *any* other company was doing that (with the possible exception of matrox, but they're a non-factor at this point). Nvidia has built a certain amount of good will from a lot of Linux users simply because they actually care to release good quality drivers. The open source nuts obviously don't care but everyone else does.

    Second, and this is coming from someone who's had a decent amount of 3d development experience: working with nvidia drivers/cards is just a whole lot easier than ati or intel. All three companies don't do the best job, but the amount of hacks you have to make in software to get stuff working with both ati and intel cards far surpasses anything you have to write for nvidia cards. I'm sure there will be open source nuts in this is article saying how intel is awesome because they release open source drivers and that's great if all you care about is running glxgears and desktop effects. Anything more complicated is an absolute nightmare with intel hardware.

  • by Eil ( 82413 ) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @02:13AM (#26265675) Homepage Journal

    It's been about 8 years since I last immersed myself in the world of video cards and of course everything has changed since then. (Except that nVidia and AMD (was: ATI) are still on top.) Since then, whenever I've needed a video card, I've just gone to newegg and bought whichever nVidia card was priced around $50.

    But pretend for a moment that I want to congratulate AMD on their open source stance and buy one of their cards. I don't need eye-blistering speed, but I want something that's going to be able to acceptably play a game released a year to six months ago. And obviously it has to work well on Linux. Would be nice if it was under $100 and dual-head, but I'll take any suggestions I can get. Is there such a card? If so, which drivers does it use?

  • Re:this is either (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ShieldW0lf ( 601553 ) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @02:38AM (#26265753) 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.

    It's not a marketing move, and it's not a moral standpoint. People are denied access to drugs that are cheap to manufacture because they are encumbered with intellectual property. Nations were prepared to do away with intellectual property law and supply their population with the medicine they needed. That's why Gates is doing this. He doesn't give them money because he wants to help them, he gives them money because he wants to maintain the laws that prevent them from helping themselves, because his fortune depends on the exploitation of people using those laws as a mechanism. If the Gates foundation did not exist, more people would have medicine.

    This sort of behavior would be totally illegal if it wasn't disguised as charitable work. That's what the Gates foundation is for, to allow them to circumvent laws, manipulate and subvert government programs and engage in even more anti-social behavior than they are already known for.
  • Re:Wow (Score:3, Interesting)

    by lakeland ( 218447 ) <> on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @02:41AM (#26265769) Homepage

    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

    I used to have an ATI card (hehe, nearly wrote AMD - the merger really has started to change how I think). It was built because I needed 3D in a 100% open source system and NVidia's closed-source drivers were so good that not enough developers could be bothered developing open-source equivilants (whatever happened to noveau anyway?). At the same time, ATI's closed-source driver sucked so the open-source support was pretty good.

    But apart from that one foray where open-source was a requirement, I've always wanted things to 'just work' and nvidia has been so much better in that regard.

    Now, AMD (and independently, intel) have thrown down the gauntlet and next time I will actually have to think instead of buying nvidia automatically. Having said that, and I think this is the parent's point, if I were buying a system next week then there is no way I'd go ATI - this donation will take months before it finds its way into released distributions and I've long past being willing to patch my kernel constantly to support my hardware.

    If you're a consumer, rejoice in this annoucnement but wait a few months before changing your buying significantly. If you're nvidia - now is the time to start sweating and seriously think about just exactly why you can't open-source your drivers.

    That's my opinion, anyhow.

  • by innocent_white_lamb ( 151825 ) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @02:57AM (#26265823)

    I have done my best to stick with Intel video chipsets, because they "just work" with Linux. However, a year or so back I purchased a widescreen monitor for my main computer (this one) and discovered a very slight crawl in the display. I suspect it's some kind of electrical interference. To solve the problem I purchased an ATI X1660 card with DVI output and installed that and the crawl went away. However, the stock ATI driver that comes with Fedora 8 and 9 wouldn't, for whatever reason, work with my monitor -- it refused to switch to a high enough resolution. So I very reluctantly installed the proprietary ATI driver and that just worked. It automatically set itself up to work with my monitor and all was well.
    However, I recently upgraded this machine to Fedora 10 and lo and behold, the open source driver now works with my monitor, so I no longer require the proprietary driver. Which suits me just fine, indeed.
    I used to recommend Intel video only when anyone asked for my opinion, but now I'm quite comfortable recommending either Intel or ATI. They seem to be more-or-less equivalent in the open source (hassle-free) driver arena now.

  • Always loved amd (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Dyinobal ( 1427207 ) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @02:59AM (#26265833)
    I've always liked AMD ever since I started building computers. I'm not really a fan boy I guess I'm just their target consumer. I prefer a low cost processor that I can squeeze every dollar worth out of than an expensive one that is really fast but will be worth one hundred or two hundred less in a year when Intel pushes out their next bleeding fast processors. I've always bought Nvidia though I just have better experience getting them to work in Linux and they seem to run games better in windows at the time as well. Well about 2 months ago I gave my friend my existing Nvidia 8800gts as a birthday gift and got myself a 4850 Raedon card. I'd been meaning to buy an ATI card ever since AMD bought them but I was apprehensive. Bringing it home though I notice a huge difference in games especially my source engine games. The only issues I've had with it was some minor flickering in Linux (thanks to compiz and the drivers) and some issues with older games which were easy to work out. I honestly don't see myself buying Nvidia after this. The fact I have CrossfireX makes the deal even sweeter. This is a slam dunk for AMD.
  • by dbIII ( 701233 ) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @03:29AM (#26265921)
    A few people in Australia offered to pay up but the local agent for SCO refused to take the money. If they had taken it there was a chance people from SCO could have gone to jail for "demanding money with menaces" I think it is called.
  • This is neither (Score:2, Interesting)

    by symbolset ( 646467 ) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @03:41AM (#26265961) Journal

    When your company has an 80% margin and you donate stuff that costs you nothing, like "the right to use your software" and record the gift at retail price, you net a greater tax benefit than it costs you to make the gift. That's net profit for giving, which is not generous -- it's just good accounting. If, from your profits for giving stuff that costs you nothing, you also give "medicine" that's generous because it's not required. Still, if you net a profit from giving, your giving can't be considered anything more than an accounting trick because some good no matter how unlikely, might have been served by paying the tax - some tax money is spent generously or well and wisely after all.

    It's not really philanthropy unless you give more than you got. This is charity []. Here's my money. Give it away in the best way you can. That's also trust. They say trust is earned. Let's hope BillG deserved Warren Buffet's trust because the ill that can be done with that much gelt is serious.

    Nearly all of the African continent is inflamed with horrors beyond imagining. Terror rules more of the modern world than it has for a very long time. The fate of South America is uncertain. Maybe the best use of the Gates Foundation would be to husband their resources well until such a time as they might have some hope to turn the tide. Now is not it. This groundbreaking [] of the $500M Gates Foundation Campus [] is definitely not it. You can do a lot of philanthropy for half a billion dollars.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @04:33AM (#26266139)

    I am omeone else, but:
    Look at MPlayer's libvo/vo_gl.c and all the code under if(ati_hack). And that is about the very most trivial OpenGL code in existence.
    In addition to that, the lscale=1 code in that does not work either since ATI messed up something as simple as GL_REPEAT, at least with fragment programs.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @05:54AM (#26266381)

    AMD offer very competitive bang for the buck these days. Even better (as far as I'm concerned) they have excellent bang per watt.

    I have bought nVidia exclusively since my Riva 128, until I recently bought my son a low-end AMD card (4650). I was very impressed with its performance and low power consumption compared to what nVidia were offering.

    The only issue I had was lack of Linux 3D support, but this was fixed recently. I'm even more confident in my purchase after this news.

    For around US$160, this 4850 [] would be a good choice, IMHO.

  • Re:Heck yeah (Score:5, Interesting)

    by marcosdumay ( 620877 ) <> on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @06:45AM (#26266553) Homepage Journal

    Well, Nvidia could afford not to follow Intel open-source drivers, since they share just a small part of the market, but it is doubtfull if they can ignore ATI open-sourcing their drivers.

    The race here is exactly for the future of graphic cards, both Intel and ATI/AMD want to get rid of it, replacing them by some SIMD massively multi-core general processors (forget about those physics engines you heard about recently, it is going to be replaced by your general porpouse GPU). They think that this configuration is what the consumers want, and they may be right, but Nvidia has no route to get there. Now, Nvidia face a harsh future, both because of this change and because they have being losing quality/competitiveness/reputation recently. I really don't know how they can survive, but open-sourcing the drivers look like a good help, even if it canibilizes some product lines.

    By the way, I'm delaying buying a video card since AMD brought ATI, because I trusted them to release open source drivers for their line. Before that, I'd buy Nvidia (I did buy a Nvidia card just before that), now I'll go get an ATI.

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

    by Hurricane78 ( 562437 ) <deleted&slashdot,org> on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @08:04AM (#26266857)

    I can remember reading from John Carmack, that he hated the ATi drivers, because they were so crappy. The impression that I got from his description was, that it's kind of like the Internet Explorer of graphics drivers. They did seem to not be able to conform to the OpenGL or DirectX specifications at all, and had weird bugs when rendering in a specific condition.

    Does anyone who is programming actual 3D and shader code know if this has changed? I can imagine that nowadays, everything is written as shaders, so the actual implementation of higher level functionality (like the OpenGL default rendering model) does not matter anymore.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @10:06AM (#26267503)

    Check out []

    They have a list of the fastest video cards supported by open source drivers (mostly dominated by ATI). Yes, they use glxgears to benchmark which isn't much of a benchmark, but it's good enough.

  • Re:Wow (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Junta ( 36770 ) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @10:45AM (#26267761)

    When was the last time you tried them? I have an R500 part and before that an R100 part, as well as two nVidia systems. A while ago, the difference was night and day, nVidia's drivers were much more reliable and featureful.

    Over the course of 2008, that's changed for me. AMD has caught up. Meanwhile, I've started using compiz, and the nVidia systems with current drivers still corrupt the window decorations and contents when I have too many windows open. My ATI doesn't suffer from that.

    nVidida does have something on flexible video decode offload and AMD is only promising something, but as it stands its horribly fragmented. nVidia has their implementation, AMD promises another incompatible one, Intel has yet another incompatible one, and all the while Xorg guys muse about a fourth strategy.

  • Re:Hallejulla! (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @11:19AM (#26268009)
    That's one of the reasons hardly no one ever bought an R350. I don't buy hardware in the hopes that someday I'll have drivers; I buy hardware for which drivers already exist. The R350 was never "on the market." It looks like the R600/R700 are about to be introduced.

1 Mole = 007 Secret Agents