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A Possible Workaround For The S3TC Patent Situation

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  • A Possible Workaround For The S3TC Patent Situation

    Phoronix: A Possible Workaround For The S3TC Patent Situation

    While S3 Texture Compression (S3TC) is widely used by many games and applications since its inclusion into OpenGL 1.3 and Microsoft DirectX 6.0, these lossy texture compression algorithms have not been implemented in the open-source Linux graphics drivers. This lack of open-source support is due to S3 Graphics holding the patent rights to this technology that they actively license to major hardware vendors. There long has been an external library that can be loaded and will work with most Mesa / Gallium3D drivers for advertising S3TC support, but it's not found by default and it's not included in leading Linux distributions due to these legal fears. There may now be a new solution for the S3TC Linux problem thanks to the advent of a new (and simpler) texture compression algorithm that can serve as a drop-in replacement.

    http://www.phoronix.com/vr.php?view=16240

  • #2
    Very cool stuff. That would put the FOSS graphics drivers 50% closer to being usable for at least basic dev work on high-quality games.

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    • #3
      Ignore the patent

      There is one straightforward solution.

      Ignore the patent.

      That patent is valid only locally, in the US. Not world-wide.

      Make a world implementation and only then a crippled US version. This is how e.g. the .gif patents were handled.

      Comment


      • #4
        HTC

        Since HTC has bought S3 and they are clearly not into suing, I agree that this patent could be ignored.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by sabriah View Post
          Make a world implementation and only then a crippled US version. This is how e.g. the .gif patents were handled.
          That is the general idea. The "world implementation" is here:

          http://cgit.freedesktop.org/~mareko/libtxc_dxtn/

          However, US-based linux distributions cannot safely include that. I intentionally provide the same interface as this library, so either can work as drop-in replacement for the other.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by dajomu View Post
            Since HTC has bought S3 and they are clearly not into suing, I agree that this patent could be ignored.
            And you think that, because ....?

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            • #7
              Since S3TC omits key elements of the S3TC texture compression method (e.g. quantization is not done in the block encoder but within the pre-processor, no derived colors, etc), they believe -- and based upon the input of others -- that this new method is not stepping on the S3TC patent.
              replace bold printed word with S2TC and this sentence actually makes sense

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by sabriah View Post
                There is one straightforward solution.

                Ignore the patent.

                That patent is valid only locally, in the US. Not world-wide.

                Make a world implementation and only then a crippled US version. This is how e.g. the .gif patents were handled.
                I totally agree.
                Why the rest of the world should have to suffer because of the broken US patent system ?
                I don't understand why this is not a simple compilation flag for MESA drivers yet.

                Comment


                • #9
                  To those saying "ignore it": consider that people from the US aren't really at fault for their broken patent system and can't normally do anything about it.

                  It's not fair to bitch when something is US-only and "we" can't access it, and then turn around and say "fuck em" when the tables have turned.

                  Great work from the Xonotic developers, I hope this gets included in Mesa soon!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Drago View Post
                    And you think that, because ....?
                    Since HTC thinks that Apple should compete than sue I assume HTC would walk the talk when it comes to their patents.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by [Knuckles] View Post
                      [...]people from the US aren't really at fault for their broken patent system and can't normally do anything about it[...]
                      I would not want to get into politics, but... if people from a democratic country aren't at fault for their own country's patent system, who is at fault then?

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by [Knuckles] View Post
                        To those saying "ignore it": consider that people from the US aren't really at fault for their broken patent system and can't normally do anything about it.

                        It's not fair to bitch when something is US-only and "we" can't access it, and then turn around and say "fuck em" when the tables have turned.

                        Great work from the Xonotic developers, I hope this gets included in Mesa soon!
                        Actually, the preferred way would not be including this in Mesa as ONLY version, but to continue to have support for the s3tc-enabled libtxc_dxtn.

                        This can be realized for example by Linux distributions setting this to "Provide:" libtxc_dxtn, and shipping this one by default. Then the user can replace it by the "full" libtxc_dxtn with S3TC support by an apt-get command (on Debian/Ubuntu). Alternatively, an alternatives mechanism can be used (update-alternatives) to even allow both packages to be installed at the same time.

                        Also, Mesa COULD include this code, or reimplement S2TC on their own (in a probably more optimized and faster fashion). In any case, I would prefer support for full S3TC libtxc_dxtn to remain.

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                        • #13
                          so... did anyone involved in mesa ask S3 already if it's ok to have a free implementation, or do we have to speculate for the next 50 years whether there might be some legal problems or not?

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                          • #14
                            Ok, so if i rename S2TC library file as libtxc_dxtn would it make auto magicly my S3TC games run properly without S3TC, or would it require some extra work from the game devs?

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              It would automatically work, provided your graphics card supports S3TC decoding. In case it does not, Mesa may implement it using S2TC decoding, but even if it will work, it will be slower. You basically don't want software fallbacks to happen.

                              Quite likely though, your card DOES support S3TC, and libtxc_dxtn will then work for you without fps loss.

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