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Radeon HD 7000 Series Open-Source Still A Mess

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  • #21
    Originally posted by MrCooper View Post
    FWIW, radeonsi can handle much more than 'some basic 3D demos' now. It runs many real games / apps fine. 3D apps run at full acceleration including page flipping. We're very close to enabling full glamor 2D acceleration as well.

    Obviously it's not nearly as mature as r600g yet, but it's certainly ready for wider testing by early adopters.
    I am interested in the word "we're" in your statement. What exactly is your involvement with the driver?

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    • #22
      Other than the shader compiler Michel pretty much wrote radeonsi. Everyone helped with testing and debugging the driver but MrCooper (that's just his IRC handle BTW) drew the short straw for initial SI userspace support.
      Last edited by bridgman; 11-24-2012, 08:05 PM.

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      • #23
        Nice, Larabel should mark him as a driver developer.

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        • #24
          Excuse my ignorance, but when something is crap and open source, doesn't the community rush to fix it? I thought that was the very reason many Linux users want software to be open source. Where are all the zealots?

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          • #25
            Originally posted by FutureSuture View Post
            Excuse my ignorance, but when something is crap and open source, doesn't the community rush to fix it? I thought that was the very reason many Linux users want software to be open source. Where are all the zealots?
            No.

            In order to fix something you have to know can and have the will. Linux would have never been what it is now without companies paying developers. Most of the work on AMD FOSS drivers comes from people on the AMD payroll. And redhat i think.

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            • #26
              Originally posted by 89c51 View Post
              No.

              In order to fix something you have to know can and have the will. Linux would have never been what it is now without companies paying developers. Most of the work on AMD FOSS drivers comes from people on the AMD payroll. And redhat i think.
              So open source isn't to be held in as high regards as I thought it was, hm? I mean, it is certainly more desirable than closed source software, but considering how companies still hold a vast majority of the power as nothing seemingly gets done without them...

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              • #27
                Not sure I agree. As long as the code is public and there are developers outside the HW vendor who know the code well enough to work on it, the community *has* the power. The question is if and when it makes sense for them to use it.

                Graphics drivers get more complex every year as expectations go up for features and performance, and that in turn makes it harder for part-time developers to find enough time to make real progress on the drivers, but the ability to "grab the wheel at any time" is there in principle.

                Most of the developers working for HW vendors or distros work as "part of the community" anyways, so you do get a largely vendor-independent group making most of the key architectural decisions. The transition to kernel modesetting was a good example, with developers from a half-dozen different companies working together on various bits of the solution, and in many cases the developers *were* independent when they started work on KMS but continued working on it after going to work at Red Hat, AMD, Intel etc...

                I think you get a more accurate picture of how open source works if you imagine all the work being done by volunteers, then consider that some of the "volunteering" is done by individuals and some is done by (ie funded by) large companies. I can only be sure about AMD but it's probably safe to say that all the large companies expect/allow their developers to work as part of the community and to strike a balance between community priorities and company priorities.
                Last edited by bridgman; 11-25-2012, 12:11 PM.

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                • #28
                  Originally posted by FutureSuture View Post
                  So open source isn't to be held in as high regards as I thought it was, hm? I mean, it is certainly more desirable than closed source software, but considering how companies still hold a vast majority of the power as nothing seemingly gets done without them...
                  It has nothing to do with how high is regarded or code quality or whatever. The development would just be much much slower. Its different having someone code everyday as his job than someone doing it on his spare time.

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                  • #29
                    Originally posted by bridgman View Post
                    Graphics drivers get more complex every year as expectations go up for features and performance, and that in turn makes it harder for volunteer developers to find enough time to make real progress on the drivers, but the ability to "grab the wheel at any time" is there in principle.
                    Maybe it's just me, but I'd say it's really the complexity which keeps people from contributing.
                    The threshold to enter that business seems rather high.
                    There's this promising project to write documentation and guides for new GPU driver developers
                    http://cgit.freedesktop.org/~marcheu/lgd/
                    So far it's a very good read, IMHO, but it's incomplete and progress seems to be slow at best.
                    I'd say this is a *very* important project and a first version is hopefully completed soon (I doubt it).
                    It's not like it will automagically spit out better drivers immediately but it might help to lower
                    the threshold for new contributors, which are new to GPU hardware and the graphics stack.

                    AFAIK there's no comparable literature available yet. Otherwise please point me to it.
                    I'll buy it immediately. And I don't mean books on generic driver development on Linux.
                    Last edited by entropy; 11-25-2012, 12:18 PM.

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                    • #30
                      There are conflicting views on the value of documentation though, even among the active developers. If you apply a classic triage model to the pool of potential developers and divide them into...

                      - those who will learn enough by asking questions & reading code to work effectively without documentation
                      - those who wouldn't be able to learn without documentation but would & will become effective developers if given a decent docco starting point
                      - those who would read the documentation but still not be able to deal with the complexity of the hardware & code in the time they have available

                      ... the big debate is over the size of the middle category, the ones who would be helped by documentation. If the work contributed by that middle group is more than the work it takes existing developers to write and maintain documentation, then the community is ahead. If not, then the community loses.

                      The argument against a big push on documentation is that it would mostly help potential part-time developers, and the aggregate work available from the successful ones would be less than the time required to write & maintain the docco because of their part-time nature.

                      IMO the solution is to find the right level of detail. I think everyone agrees that documenting where to find the code and how to build/install it is worth doing, so the question is whether documenting one or two more levels of detail would help and where we reach the point of diminishing returns. I suspect we reach that point quite early, ie that the optimal point would be maybe 5-10 pages *total* of well-written design docco divided across the major component projects (eg a page or two for stack-level plus a page or two for each major component) and kept ruthlessly up to date.

                      That would be enough to let potential developers get a lot further into the code quickly, and hopefully enough that they can start tinkering and asking good questions (where "good" in this case means "other developers feel that answering the questions is a good use of their time").

                      One of the obvious challenges would be how to avoid the documentation growing past the point where it can be maintained, since documents (and code) tend to grow during periods of enthusiasm then rot when the enthusiasm wanes.

                      It would be nice if code and docco automatically got smaller when fewer people were available to work on them but nobody knows how to do that yet AFAIK
                      Last edited by bridgman; 11-25-2012, 12:42 PM.

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