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AMD Brings 3D GPU Documentation Up To Date 64

jones_supa writes "Things are starting to look even better for the status of open specifications for AMD Radeon HD hardware. AMD's Alex Deucher announced via his personal blog that programming guides and register specifications on the 3D engines for the Evergreen, Northern Islands, Southern Islands, and Sea Islands GPUs are now in the NDA-free public domain. These parts represent the 3D engines on the Radeon HD 5000 through Radeon HD 8000 series graphics processors."
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AMD Brings 3D GPU Documentation Up To Date

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  • Steam (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Nerdfest ( 867930 ) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @11:21AM (#45014419)

    Valve seems to have stirred things up a bit. I know some of this was in the works before, but the timing is nice.

    • Indeed. Are Nvidia and AMD now trying to 1up each other with their Linux drivers? That would be great news for us users.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        No, just AMD.

        Nvidia has marginally better hardware, but AMD's is far better than "just good enough" anyway, so the real issue with AMD is their piece of crap (which IS getting better, but it is still shit) Catalyst driver. However, AMD is working at getting rid of Catalyst in a way that is not going to hurt their bottom line any.

        We shall see. It is better for everybody if AMD has a huge success now, we need it strong to counter both Intel and nVidia.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @11:23AM (#45014441)

    Better late than never, eh. This really needs to be standard practice across the industry.

  • Why is the X logo by the story? This has nothing (directly) to do with X. Just because they opened their documentation doesn't mean X is the main focus...
    • No one cares about an open video driver on Windows
      • No one cares about an open video driver on Windows

        Doesn't matter. An open driver is more relevant to the different kernels that would be needing GPU drivers and providing KMS based on those - it's little to do w/ X11. Once Wayland/Mir & others come aboard, X will be even more irrelevant.

    • by LoRdTAW ( 99712 )

      Yea! There should be a Mir or Wayland logo up there instead.

      Though I do agree with your sentiment, X drivers for Linux and BSD are the primary audience. Sure it could help ReactOS, Illumos and Haiku developers but Linux is the main focus and BSD probably second. Windows and MacOS don't need open drivers, they are closed systems (okay OSX is somewhat open) using closed drivers.

      • Windows and MacOS don't need open drivers, they are closed systems (okay OSX is somewhat open) using closed drivers.

        And a lot of linux users run the binary blob drivers from AMD and nVidia too.

        I wonder ... since X has insecure keyhandling anyway, could the binary video drivers be Bull-Run'ed? The timing is awfully coincidental.

  • by dutchwhizzman ( 817898 ) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @11:39AM (#45014637)
    Try and compete with this and open up all your specs too.
    • It isn't that easy. There is a bunch of code they contracted out or licensed that they have no legal right to release.
      • by Ultra64 ( 318705 ) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @11:47AM (#45014769)

        Sure, it will take time to sort out the legal issues.

        But if AMD can do it, so can nVidia.

        • by armanox ( 826486 )

          nVidia's drivers work great for me. I really don't care if they release it in the open as long as the binary driver keeps working (which has always been a better track record than fglrx, even if it has improved). Plus, nVidia releases a BSD and Solaris driver.

          • Well, that's you. I, on the other hand, do care a lot if I can use my GPUs with unmodified kernels or not, and once one good enough choice has a free driver, I'll certainly stop buying ones that lack it.

            • by armanox ( 826486 )

              So I take it you don't use VMware or Virtualbox either?

              • I use them, the same way that I use the proprietary drivers of my GPUs. If there were a virtualization software that run with the main kernel and satisfied my needs, I would use it.

          • The problem with being solely dependent on binary drivers is that hardware vendors eventually stop supporting older hardware on newer OSes. With a viable Open Source driver, it is (almost) guaranteed that you will still be able to use your device in the next version of Windows, Linux, etc., even if the hardware vendor declines to port the driver or goes out of business.
            • by armanox ( 826486 )

              Except that it's not. I can install binary/'legacy' drivers for older cards in Windows (and nvidia-legacy in Linux) to get old cards to work that the open source drivers have dropped. I'll give you two examples - the Intel i8xx chipset and the nVidia Geforce 2 in my old laptop. I can install drivers in Windows for them (got the i8xx working in Windows 7), and the nvidia-legacy driver (last I checked) still covers the Geforce 2 in Linux.

        • I don't see what's so hard to sort out. They make a decision to publish the register-level hardware specs, and they post them. All the Open Source devs need is access to the same hardware documentation that nVidia's own driver developers use; they're not looking for the source code to the existing proprietary drivers (though nVidia releasing their own drivers under an Open Source license would be great too).
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        They aren't releasing their driver code. It's just documentation. nVidia can do that just as easily.

      • Re:licensed code (Score:4, Informative)

        by Foresto ( 127767 ) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @01:18PM (#45016073) Homepage

        Irrelevant. We're not asking for their driver code, we're asking for documentation on the hardware that we buy from them, so that we can write our own driver code.

      • Specs and code are two different things, no? Do you think they have no legal right to release API's that talk to code running on their cards? Nobody's talking about writing open source firmware for the cards - that's not OS-specific. Or am I missing something?

      • That's been the excuse for YEARS now! If they haven't addressed this issue in all this time, it's because they don't WANT to release documentation, not because they can't.

      • by Belial6 ( 794905 )
        The specs are not code. They do not need to release any code to release open specs.
  • by jbernardo ( 1014507 ) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @11:48AM (#45014775)
    Now, with 3D to add to video acceleration and fully documented power management, ADM APUs are even more the chipset of choice for netbooks and light laptops. In terms of value for money they were already hard to beat.
  • Late last-night a flash of insight grew out of the understanding of Mantle. Ultimately, long term, x86 and GPU instruction sets will merge. The problem is that once the instruction set has merged, the architecture is locked preventing subsequent drastic innovation. With mantle, there is a software "driver" that decouples the specific instruction/chip architecture from the software that utilizes it allowing massive subsequent innovation without disrupting the applications that depend upon specific instruc

  • Gee, so you mean, hardware companies can just focus on making better hardware and actually give us the information we need to make the most out of the hardware they sell us rather than holding the documentation for ransom? RMS can finally stop rolling in his grave!

    Seriously, stop. If you're "not dead yet", that's just weird, man.

  • Just made my Day.

    With open access to GPU's, nothing can stop the Linux Desktop from taking over Microsoft's dominance.

    After all, it is the largest installed application base/use of Microsoft Windows.

    When Microsoft goes the way of the DoDo, infrastructure will have NO CHOICE but to open up.

    Open Standards, Security and Reliability I predict will go through a renaissance, as infrastructure guys like me are required to vette software all the way down to the source code level.

    We can't do that today, and it is ca

How many NASA managers does it take to screw in a lightbulb? "That's a known problem... don't worry about it."