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Graphics Open Source Software Linux

NVIDIA Begins Providing Open-Source 3D Driver Support For GeForce GTX 900 Series (phoronix.com) 63

An anonymous reader writes: In late 2014 NVIDIA announced their GPUs would begin requiring signed firmware images before the open-source driver could enable hardware acceleration. That led the Nouveau developers to call the latest GPUs "very open-source unfriendly", but that criticism can now be laid to rest as NVIDIA has finally released the signed firmware and basic open-source driver code. The open-source driver can now move on with its open-source 3D enablement for Maxwell GPUs and the NVIDIA developer is hoping it will be ready for the next kernel cycle (Linux 4.6).
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NVIDIA Begins Providing Open-Source 3D Driver Support For GeForce GTX 900 Series

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    soo...
    we are still waiting for the source-code for the binary blobs, and keys required to sign our own firmware?

  • by Gravis Zero ( 934156 ) on Monday February 15, 2016 @10:08AM (#51510719)

    requiring signed firmware is still open source unfriendly! if the firmware can be changed, we want an open source version of that too! we also want to be able to run our own code on it. signed firmware is a hostile statement saying that you don't want anyone else to be able to write firmware for this card.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Signed firmware isn't bad since generally firmware can't be changed. Firmware doesn't need to be signed but Nvidia is probably doing this for security reasons.

      • Signed firmware isn't bad since generally firmware can't be changed.

        Firmware is basically just another word for "software that runs on a peripheral processor." It can almost always be changed. Technically the Android install on your smartphone is "firmware" and the broken router software on most cheap routers is "firmware." Typically both can be replaced with 3rd party builds - unless the firmware is signed, in which case you're fucked if there's something wrong with it.

        The caveat with this, of course, is w

    • [...] if the firmware can be changed, we want an open source version of that too! we also want to be able to run our own code on it. signed firmware is a hostile statement saying that you don't want anyone else to be able to write firmware for this card.

      The signed firmware is not intended to interfere with the consumer / user, in fact one of the key justifications is continuing to provide post-manufacture updates of the video card firmware to provide fixes and enhancements, while preventing counterfeiting where low-end cards are re-flashed with bogus firmware that factory overclock it and reports itself as a more capable higher-end (more expensive) model. Nvidia claims to have found unauthorized manufacturers / re-packagers selling such cards in Asia.

      User

      • Users / non-Nvidia developers do not have the necessary technical documentation to produce their own firmware, so there is no lost of functionality or flexibility. Their video cards designs, ASIC, and firmware are all proprietary design, with almost no technical documentation available to open source developers.

        right... because reverse engineering isn't a thing and patents don't contain any information. what this does is prevent people from being able to experiment and succeed at writing their own firmwares.

      • Except in the cases of some AMD and nvidia models where the power saving features weren't programmed with proper settings, which led to gray-screening. End users had to modify the card firmware to change the stepping values (or disable power saving entirely in some cases). There were also a few cases where overclocking the cards wasn't allowed via the drivers (softlocks), and that also required manual editing and flashing of firmware to get around.

    • Can someone please explain something to me? Is there a point where having the firmware source allows me to infer design details about hardware that could be considered proprietary?

      If not, then lets get all the torches and pitchforks ready. Not to mention a big OSS to burn into nVidia's front lawn.

      If so, then people need to shut up about it. Companies (that actually develop stuff) need to protect their IP.
      • by cfalcon ( 779563 )

        The proprietary drivers (and firmware) include agreements that nvidia made with other companies, so they can't open source them. The problem here isn't even the existence of the firmware that was always loaded, it was that the normal workaround no longer worked, because nvidia was seeing scammers loading firmware for more advanced cards on less advanced cards- this didn't improve the cards, but it DID let them lie about what they were. I'm glad they are coming up with a solution for the open source stuff.

    • Is how do you keep folks from hacking the firmware to make an old 660 look like a 960 long enough to screw over a few hundred thousand nVidia customers. It's happened before... Sure, you know how to check your firmware. Lots of us do. Lots of us don't though, or don't care to learn.
    • requiring signed firmware is still open source unfriendly! if the firmware can be changed, we want an open source version of that too! we also want to be able to run our own code on it. signed firmware is a hostile statement saying that you don't want anyone else to be able to write firmware for this card.

      If you could load your own firmware you would probably be a little bit closer to being able to bypass HDCP (High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection). Chances are Nvidia have signed a crap load of agreements that prevent them from letting you do that. They could probably invest a load of time in letting you run your own firmware, but have the windows driver scan for that and disable HDCP in this case but even this may prove awkward if it made it any easier for you find a way around the HDCP in older cards

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Only software written by Stallman himself is good as everything else is a potential patent troll and/or vendor lock-in.

  • by 0100010001010011 ( 652467 ) on Monday February 15, 2016 @11:19AM (#51511079)

    For me FOSS is a tool, it's not something to get emotional or tied up about. I pay Nvidia money Nvidia pays people to develop drivers that work. I paid AMD/ATI money and they said "Ha, here's a shit ton of specs, write them yourself". Sorry. My job isn't to write display drivers, my job is to use the display drivers.

    I suppose I could try growing my own food too, but I (gladly) pay someone else to do it for me. Even if it is a bit 'closed source'.

    • Well that's nice for you. Do you normally go into topics and say "I don't care about this, I don't see why anyone would?"

      • When we see the same thing posted over and over for a decade, yes.

        I'm still buying Nvidia cards because they work. I do have some AMD paperweights if anyone wants them.

        • I'm still buying Nvidia cards because they work. I do have some AMD paperweights if anyone wants them.

          They must all be old, right? If any of them are vaguely current, send me one (I'll pay shipping obviously) and I'll write an article about how the drivers are or aren't now

          • OS: FreeBSD

            Card: Radeon 7870 [amd.com]

            Meanwhile my old Nvidia cards are still cranking away with working drivers (with acceleration!)

            It's like I paid Nvidia money and they delivered a product I could use.

            Unless you're volunteering to read through AMD's spec sheets and writing me a driver for free.

            Additionally under Linux AMD has a 'bug' (Feature?) where you can't even use them under OpenCL without a device attached. There is a way to fake it with a resistor but if you're going to bank on headless GPU computing you'd

            • by DrYak ( 748999 )

              Radeon 7870

              Those older radeon work very nicely with the opensource drivers (r600 driver on radeon kernel module), and AMD is devoting resource to this driver.

              The problem here isn't AMD's own effort. The problem is you're using an OS that is NOT officially support by AMD anyway.
              AMD do support Linux. They don't officially support BSDs (though there has been some announcements that they might eventually).

              Usually driver support for BSD comes in the form of mending Linux driver code into working with BSD kernel.

              Meanwhile my old Nvidia cards are still cranking away with working drivers (with acceleration!)
              It's like I paid Nvidia money and they delivered a product I could use.

              Unless you

              • The problem is you're using an OS that is NOT officially support by AMD anyway.

                So what you're saying is I should continue to pay money to the company that develops drivers for my OS? How is it that Nvidia can support as many OSes as they do for nearly the same cost as AMD?

                It's a thing that is currently being worked on, and that should disappear once the stack has finished migrating to AMDGPU.

                How long does it take to fix a bug this big?

                Whereas with Nvidia? It's just "go fuck yourself" (unless you're referring to Tegra).

                But I don't care Nvidia provides hardware that works with the software. Most people don't care. We don't have time to sit around and wait for someone to fix it eventually. I'm glad my job doesn't depend on that AMD "bug" being fixed. It's going on 3 years now(?). I'm not pa

                • by laffer1 ( 701823 )

                  NVIDIA sells more GPUs than AMD in discrete cards. They also aren't in a losing battle with Intel on x86. I'd say NVIDIA has a lot more money to play with.

                  On the AMD side, they have some decent GPUs, with no OS support. They also have several failed die shrinks and haven't released a real CPU product since 2012 for the desktop. They're probably really hurting right now.

    • I paid AMD/ATI money and they said "Ha, here's a shit ton of specs, write them yourself". Sorry. My job isn't to write display drivers, my job is to use the display drivers.

      That's weird. I paid AMD and I got decent binary drivers. Not perfect, but decent for my purposes. I know they also provide some specs for open source devs, but so far I haven't found the open drivers good enough.

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