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May 2014
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AMD annoucement of open drivers...

So the news is out that AMD have committed to opening up specifications and providing some driver code to the open source community!!!

Alex Deucher and I have been working with AMD on this for about 3 months now and it's great to see it finally go public with their plans going forward. The initial code from Novell/SuSE will be appearing around XDS time, and AMD will also be attending.

Initially it will be a 2D modesetting driver, and hopefully a 3D driver will follow later. They are not stopping work on fglrx and will not be releasing any code from fglrx.

They will also be providing us with some access to engineering staff for information on older cards that we hadn't access to before, so we can properly support the current radeon driver (mainly BIOS parsing and workarounds..)

AMD, myself and Red Hat are also working through clearing me from my NDA issues so I can work on the r5xx cards.

So its all very positive and hopefully it we can all work together going forward to produce a top-notch open source driver...

If anyone has any questions on this feel free to post them here and I'll try and answer them if I can...

Those that do not learn from the past...

AMD has figured out that Linux users have learned that ATI hardware when used with open drivers is no functionally better than cheaper video cards. But this announcement is just another ATI lie of "ATI speak" that implies more than what they will really provided.

ATI has claimed for a long time to provide "specifications" to the "community." In reality, the provide part of the specification to a select few developers under NDA. The developers aren't permitted to share with others and ATI refuses to respond to queries from others for the specs since it was "already released." There is a pending request to ATI for specs that they will be "getting back to me" about sometime *AFTER 6 YEARS* have already passed.

ATI has never made it clear that by "having provided the specification" does not mean all of the specifications to support all of the marketed features of the video card. They even have claimed commitment to iDCT/MPEG decompression support for Linux with an "ATI kit" that they never followed through the commitment for. To date, there is no XVMC or similar API supported by either the open source drivers or binary drivers and the specifications to provide such support will "NEVER be released" according to ATI's own employee!

While increase in speed of CPUs has reduced the need for iDCT hardware for MPEG 480i/480p streams, for HD-DVD and BluRay playback, getting access to these specification is extremely helpful! But the bottom line is that ATI will continue with business as usual that Linux users will be charged a premium price for features that they will never get to take advantage of.

Giving AMD/ATI more undeserved marketing buzz when they continue to just imply things they won't provide just discourages people from seeking solutions which have a real commitment to the community. Each time ATI claims they will be (maybe... someday) providing something, the response from the community should be: PUT UP OR SHUT UP! In the mean time, we can't allow these announcements of misdirection to distract from a focus on a true Open Graphics Project.

Re: Those that do not learn from the past...

ATi probably made a huge mistake and did some third-party licensing and now they can't release it.

Eventually people will realize that they can get better open-source driver performance.

One of the reasons ATi is doing this at all is because of companies like Dell. Dell's Ubuntu line is more or less cherry-picked hardware--they prefer FLOSS drivers because it allows their users maximum flexibility in upgrades.

Dell isn't picking ATi video. They offer Intel integrated video up until the very highest laptop which is an nVidia card.

AMD/ATi wants to do just enough to get a piece of that action.

Re: Those that do not learn from the past...


The Dell Linux efforts so far have so far been only rebadging of *WINDOWS* systems with Ubuntu pre-loaded. The Ideastorm -> Ubuntu preload timeframe of 6-8 weeks is *way* smaller than the full lifecycle of a system (let alone a mobile system).

Look to see what Dell is shipping in 9-18 months to really see what Dell is interested in. Dell is logistics and pragmatism, out-of-the-box is useful for Dell now... But when Dell has their logistics setup ( and do not need to rely on the boxed version of Ubuntu then you will begin to see how the PC industry works. Remember that Dell doesn't ship Windows retail versions, they have a heavily customized version of Windows. The same will happen with Dell, and the line between Open Source and Proprietary will become quite blurred - since the Dellbuntu version will have *everything* for that system. And each Dellbuntu will be targetted to a particular system... Look at the DRU structure to see the first lines of that... And even then Ubuntu 7.10 will not support new hardware at the 8.04 timeframe, so Dell will have to unclude drivers (Open Source OR Proprietary) with those new systems...

Dell has made statements that they have sold 30,000 Ubuntu, laptops in the last quarter.. Dell will in general sell 500,000 to 1,000,000, so understand Linux's real place in those lines... 30,000 doesn't make a design win.