objarni's picture

Open Source Graphics Driver

AMD releases the source code for the driver of their RV770 graphics card as open source ... Just thought some of you might be interested in this novel move (I guess it has not really happened before in the graphics card industry..?):



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the Fiddler's picture

Not quite: they cannot actually release the source code of their own driver (IP issues, mainly), but they are helping to develop open-source drivers for their video cards. This code can be used to drive R600/R700 chips and they'll also be releasing documentation about the chips' registers, command processors, power management etc.

It's something they have done once before, around the R200 era. This new effort started last year and covers all recent chips. Right now, everything from R100-R500 has quite nice open drivers (2d performance and video playback is a little better than with the closed drivers!) In fact, the open drivers are perfectly usable unless you want to use Wine or advanced 3d games (which most users don't care about).

The main problems of the open drivers is power management and GL support (the current infrastructure can only handle GL1.3), but both parts should improve during 2009.

Amd is not the first one to open the specs, but this is certainly a significant move (which started early last year). From the 3 main players in this industry (Intel, Amd, Nvidia), only Nvidia refuses to help develop open drivers. Right now, Intel has open drivers, Amd has both open and closed drivers (2 open implementations and 1 closed) and Nvidia has closed drivers (plus 2 anemic open implementations, the first 2d-only and the latter reverse engineered). Most other manufacturers (Via, Sis etc) have open drivers, possibly reverse engineered.

objarni's picture

Cool, thanks for you experience sharing fiddler..