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Feature: Desktop Hardware

It's official: ATI Radeon drivers to be open sourced

By Joe Barr on September 06, 2007 (5:30:00 PM)

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AMD briefed Linux.com this morning on a pending announcement regarding the open sourcing of drivers for ATI graphics cards. It's official -- AMD will make code and specifications for ATI graphics cards available on the Internet on September 10.

We spoke with Phil Hester, senior vice president and CTO at AMD, and Chris Schlaeger, director of AMD's Operating System Research Center, along with Jon Carvill, AMD's manager of public relations. They confirmed the rumors reported earlier on Slashdot, that everything necessary for community-driven and -maintained 2-D and 3-D drivers for ATI Radeon X1000 and HD 2000 graphics will be made available next week.

Hester and Schlaeger both stressed the point that the announced project is a work in progress. Even the licensing terms are not yet finalized. Hester says, "This has to be an open, collaborative process. This is not us just dumping a bunch of stuff on the table and saying, 'We're done.' To me, this is the beginning of a commitment to work with the open source community over a sustained period to do what we need to to make them happy in both the 2-D and the 3-D area."

As far as the licensing is concerned, Hester says, "I think with good certainty we know that the 2-D drivers will be a combination of MIT and GPL. We haven't figured out a bunch of things on the 3-D license yet."

The reason for the uncertainty on the 3-D side is two-fold, Hester explains. For one thing, there is code in the closed source version that does not belong to AMD, so they have to figure out how to provide the information needed by the open source community without giving away code they don't own. For another, the sheer complexity of the GPUs is enormous. Hester says, "There are 7,000 to 8,000 control registers in GPUs these days. The visible register set in a GPU is considerably more complex than the visible register set in a CPU." As a result, documenting those registers in a way that open source developers can understand is not a trivial task. Hester believes it will take several iterations of AMD presenting information, the community absorbing and commenting on it, followed by more information being delivered in an ongoing process in order to work all the way through to the point where everything needed for open source drivers to fully exercise the 3-D capabilities of the cards is available in an understandable form.

Work has already begun behind the scenes with developers at Novell. Why Novell? Prior work together and an existing contractual framework made it an easy place to start, but Hester says, "I wouldn't read anything into that. We are very open as to who we work with."

On the issue of maintainership, Schlaeger says, "We want to enable the open source community to carry the development forward. We won't let them alone. It's not something that we dump a bit of code, a bit of spec, and say, 'This is it. You asked for it, you have it. Feel free, and have fun.'" He noted that the company took a similar approach on the Linux port of Opteron. Initially, it contracted with Novell to bring the project along, then made it into a successful open source project.

A formal press release regarding the open sourcing of the ATI drivers is expected from AMD after market close today.

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on It's official: ATI Radeon drivers to be open sourced

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if they can offer a All In Wonder contender to a hauppage/nVidia pairing, I'll not switch away

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 204.50.208.4] on September 06, 2007 06:12 PM
That 8800 is very attractive and hauppage has a history of just working under Linux based OS but if ATI can provide an All In Wonder contender to the nVidia 8800 board then I'm confident that the community will develop far better drivers than ATI ever has.

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note to Linux.com staffers

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 204.50.208.4] on September 06, 2007 06:15 PM
The title field in this comment form should be limited to the length you actualy display. My previous post title was actually "if they can offer a All In Wonder contender to a hauppage/nVidia pairing". It makes far more sense when the context of the comment isn't destroyed by having the title cut off mid way through.

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It's official: ATI Radeon drivers to be open sourced

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 207.107.233.34] on September 06, 2007 06:18 PM
Which means someone could modify it to make Simcity 4 work correctly. Cause right now theres a bug (weird bug) that prevents using hardware acceleration. The reason you have to disable FSAA but you can only choose "let the application decide". But even with those settings, it still doesnt work. You have to choose software instead which is slow and sucks

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Not a Verb

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 204.136.26.41] on September 06, 2007 06:19 PM
"Open Source" is not a verb. It's an adjective. Please stop saying "open sourced".

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Re: Not a Verb

Posted by: Joe Barr on September 06, 2007 07:50 PM
"Open Source" is not a verb. It's an adjective. Please stop saying "open sourced".

That's rule number 1: don't be verbin no nouns.

But language, that harsh mistress, she changes all the time. Why, in the time it took you to keyboard all that, she's changed again!

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Re(1): Not a Verb

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 80.191.123.188] on September 07, 2007 01:09 AM
Just like google officially became a verb, I see nothing wrong with open sourced becoming a commonly used verb.

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Re: Not a Verb

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 68.126.190.109] on September 07, 2007 04:58 AM
Would you rather have it be "It's official: ATI Radeon drivers to be released as open source?"

That's not as concise.



Please, Linux.com developers, use <a href="http://php.net/nl2br">nl2br()</a>.

It's lame reading comments that aren't properly formatted, and worse still, having one's own comments mangled by crummy software.

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It's official: ATI Radeon drivers to be open sourced

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 209.128.29.254] on September 06, 2007 07:34 PM
AWESOME! About time. I will now cancel that order for my nvidia card :-)

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It's official: ATI Radeon drivers to be open sourced

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 41.221.17.108] on September 06, 2007 10:04 PM
I suppose that old Radeon 9800 Pro cards are also conserned by this good news ?!

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Re: It's official: ATI Radeon drivers to be open sourced

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 24.80.34.124] on September 07, 2007 05:03 PM
I'm with you on that one brother. Of course if it takes a year to produce good drivers I'll probably be on a new video card by then.

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Where's the documentation?

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 85.176.192.79] on September 06, 2007 11:18 PM
I've asked them both, ATI and AMD, a few times to release documentation...

and now they talk about free drivers... WTF?!

What's the problem handing out the DOCUMENTATION for the HARDWARE?

I know times where those famous vendors provided datasheets even with the

normal packages. The recent behaviour is definetly cutting the possible

audience to end users only... which is unwise from an evolutional view to

what's happening in the software world (free and commercial).



It's about HARDWARE SPECS! AMD, provide them, we - the users and

developers - want evolution... and like to use your products for it.

The logical outcome after time is clear: more sold units because of freedom

for customers.



Think about it.

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Re: Where's the documentation?

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 83.20.21.159] on September 07, 2007 04:09 AM
They are. Reread the article. All the way to the bottom.

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Re(1): Where's the documentation?

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 213.128.132.194] on September 07, 2007 07:43 AM
I might be blind but i can't find the URL... pointers welcome.

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Re(2): Where's the documentation?

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 69.1.39.138] on September 07, 2007 01:17 PM
actually, he needs to re-read the top. That whole part about -- AMD briefed Linux.com this morning on a pending announcement regarding the open sourcing of drivers for ATI graphics cards. It's official -- AMD will make code and specifications for ATI graphics cards available on the Internet on September 10.
-
-
See that September 10th portion? What day is it right now? It's September 9th. You are not blind because you don't see any links. You don't see any links because they HAVE NOT BEEN POSTED YET.

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Re(3): Where's the documentation?

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 213.128.132.194] on September 07, 2007 02:14 PM
So it's still plain political and nothing for real... we'll see... or not... remember the past?

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Re(4): Where's the documentation?

Posted by: Zerias on September 07, 2007 03:45 PM
2 things. First, I screwed up on the date because I read the KDE clock wrong. It's the 7th, not the 9th. The 10th is monday. - - Second. Okay. Let me get this straight. AMD sets the date for the 10th on when the code and drivers will be released. You take issue on the 5th, 6th, 7th, or whatever that there is no code or specifications yet, before they are releaesd. - - Somebody calls you on the dates. - - Rather than saying "I'm sorry, I didn't read the article" you come back with a line about politics and nothing for real. - - I'm sorry, but when most people get slammed they are not stupid, or crazy, enough to come back for more. - - Well, here's some more for you: AMD has made extensive code releases to LinuxBios and OpenBios projects. Supported motherboard page is here : http://linuxbios.org/index.php/Supported_Motherboards - - With LinuxBiosV2, over 40 different motherboards have been successfully booted with OpenBios. - - A direct code release from AMD engineer Yinghai Lu enabled the GIGABYTE M57SLI-S4 to boot and load LinuxBios, the first desktop motherboard to do so. - - Further reality check : Competitor Nvidia only makes a 2D driver available for their cards. Beyond that they have little interaction with open-source projects. - - ATi, now AMD, on the other hand, has released driver specifications for their cards, and we currently have open source community drivers for R100, R200, R300, and R400 cards. ATi, now AMD, also links to a bugzilla and a wiki off of their own official site http://ati.amd.com/support/drivers/linux/linux-radeon.html - - These are steps their primary competitor, Nvidia, has never taken. - - So, yes. I remember the past. A whole lot better than you do. - - Also, another significant problem with your post is that you presume that this code isn't real, or that it hasn't been made available. Slight problem, Novell let the cat out of the bag at their Linux Day in Atlanta Georgia at the IBM building where they specifically stated they were working on Open Source drivers, but declined to name the vendor. Even worse that I missed it. Now, right off hand, you need to say "I'm sorry, I did not read the article" if you have any hope of saving face... oh. wait. Both of us posted as Anon. - - Hi.

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Re(3): Where's the documentation?

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 205.208.133.8] on September 07, 2007 08:03 PM
actually it is September 7...

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FOSS community developers are not stupid

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 68.126.190.109] on September 07, 2007 05:00 AM
As a result, documenting those registers in a way that open source developers can understand is not a trivial task.

Please don't speak in such a condescending manner to those of us spending our time reverse engineering better drivers than AMD/ATi.

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Re: FOSS community developers are not stupid

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 24.80.34.124] on September 07, 2007 05:01 PM
Ha. I noticed that too. Just release the hardware specs and API's AMD/ATI, the community will do the rest. Of course more is better and if they want to provide explanations and clarification to ease the process that's great.

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Re: FOSS community developers are not stupid

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 68.101.54.186] on September 07, 2007 05:12 PM
The company I work for build a piece of hardware with 9 (8 bit) interface registers, documented it, and sent it to a customer along with schematics. The customer still asked a billion questions.
There were things with names that made sense to us but confused the customer's programmers based on regional and language differences. Some questions I had when I started working on the project were quickly answered verbally but never documented until the customer asked them. And there was the simple fact that I dug through the firmware code for our device and the specs for the processor used on it, but they just had an interface document.
AMD/ATi said that they don't own all the code in their drivers, and their specs probably have comments in them that say things like "register X is to be used by the Y routine as Z" where the Y routine is not owned by ATi. When a company develops versions of products like graphics processors for as long as they have you get leakage from the software levels back up into the hardware design and documentation. And ATi can't risk putting too many hints at the design of the code that they don't own without risking being sued by that code's owners. It's harder than it seems like it should be.

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Re(1): FOSS community developers are not stupid

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 24.80.34.124] on September 07, 2007 05:31 PM
I posted the 2nd comment in this thread and after reading the Phoronix article realized that what you say is true. Most of this is due to proprietary license complications. That's what community programmers are going to need some help understanding.

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It's official: ATI Radeon drivers to be open sourced

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 196.36.166.25] on September 07, 2007 10:03 AM
haha too little too late .. they lost my business for ever, after struggling with their shitty linux driver support for 2 years

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Re: It's official: ATI Radeon drivers to be open sourced

Posted by: maxhrk on September 08, 2007 02:54 PM
it probably not too late for me.. since if they going open source... it probably a good chance that outside developer will help transform it into a better driver than before.

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It is incredible!

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 87.217.33.28] on September 08, 2007 10:02 AM
┬┐Are they saying that they don't already have complete documentation about their own product?

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Re: It is incredible!

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 201.216.166.91] on September 09, 2007 01:39 AM
Nope. They're saying they do not have documentation easily understandable for people outside the company.
Thank them for doing what they had to do since the beginning, do not complain about them talking in a way you do not understand. That's what most of us were expecting (I'm already jumping) and I, for one, feel insulted by your... crying.

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It's official: ATI Radeon drivers to be open sourced

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 75.80.142.214] on September 09, 2007 02:59 AM
Does this mean I will be able to run beryl/compiz sooner than later?

I can't wait to see ati drivers running with stock aiglx rather than waiting for xgl to be included in linux distributions.

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It's official: ATI Radeon drivers to be open sourced

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 72.189.77.85] on September 09, 2007 06:31 PM
Why the 'super-ego', as if we who have been coding since the 1960's thru 1990's couldn't figure out what we need to put into a driver to get the full output from the ATI cards!

Why does there have to be any delay in the release of the resources? 30 million potential customers want to know, because this same 'news' was released in interviews with AMD execs, a year ago! How long do we hang here, suspended?

Many of us do NOT run the nVidia proprietary drivers, as they put code into the Linux Kernel that opened up root kits! That is a MAJOR ISSUE, why we want ATI to release the resources (which are NOT the same as giving out anything that is trademarked or patented, etc.)!

Time is of the essence, holding off on this only frustrates the potential audience of consumers, their families, friends, businesses, schools, charities, and governments. Yes, each 'Linux geek' is usually responsible for 10 secondary sales of new products, when they work native in GNU/Linux!

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Cool! ATI can't make good drivers so they're letting their customers make them instead!

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 75.16.86.202] on September 10, 2007 02:20 AM
I think I'll continue to stick with nVidia instead!

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Re: Cool! ATI can't make good drivers so they're letting their customers make them instead!

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 69.1.39.138] on September 10, 2007 02:13 PM
http://www.mepisguides.com/Mepis-7/hardware-reports/nvidia-ati-64bit/nv-ati-64bit.html - - Deary. Nvidia is the one that can't make good drivers. Get your facts straight.

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It's official: ATI Radeon drivers to be open sourced

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 89.138.90.253] on September 10, 2007 10:43 AM
here is september 10 and no sign of the drivers/specifications...

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It's official: ATI Radeon drivers to be open sourced

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 75.164.215.95] on September 10, 2007 03:36 PM
now they just need some games to play XD

fucking linux. try playing an mp3 on the damn thing

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It's official: ATI Radeon drivers to be open sourced

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 189.156.181.98] on September 10, 2007 09:30 PM
where is the drivers!??!? i want compiz fusion and AIGLX

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Looks !! It's Sep. 13 Today

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 124.155.145.170] on September 13, 2007 05:18 AM
Where is the source? huh?

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Sep. 18!!!! WTF?

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 67.142.130.13] on September 18, 2007 12:43 PM
Dude - Where are They?

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It's official: ATI Radeon drivers to be open sourced

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 85.98.31.249] on September 19, 2007 01:05 PM
I sent an message to ati customer service but they sent to me a message as that "We do not provide ready-to-use drivers for Linux for our current and recent model lines." so I invite to everybody, please send a message to ati customer service for this problem.

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re: Sep. 18!!!! WTF? && the rest

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 121.107.253.250] on December 12, 2007 04:08 AM
If anything good will come from AMD/ATI as far as OS drivers are concerned, it's going to take time - lots. So don't get too excited about your next purchase. Wait some years...

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