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Thread: Why does Intel go full FOSS and AMD/Nvidia not?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
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    Default Why does Intel go full FOSS and AMD/Nvidia not?

    There are clear advantages to going full opensource on your drivers (especially for bigger companies)... I'm wondering why Intel is able to do it and not AMD/Nvidia.

    My first self-answer was that open-sourcing the driver would force them to release documentation and other stuff, reducing their advantage over their competition, but then I realized that Intel is a company with a lot of hardware secrets as well, and it obviously doesn't affect them.
    If anything, it gives them an edge as the more RMS-minded of us are more likely to go with a company that supports Linux and FOSS.

    So yeah, I'm confused. Can anybody give me an answer?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daktyl198 View Post
    There are clear advantages to going full opensource on your drivers (especially for bigger companies)... I'm wondering why Intel is able to do it and not AMD/Nvidia.
    AMD are coming along very well in that respect - UVD and DPM are largely done, now it's just a matter of bringing up support for new versions of OpenGL (which Intel also needs to do), improving OpenCL support (do Intel still need to do this?) and improving performance (which everybody needs/wants to do).

    Quote Originally Posted by Daktyl198 View Post
    My first self-answer was that open-sourcing the driver would force them to release documentation and other stuff, reducing their advantage over their competition, but then I realized that Intel is a company with a lot of hardware secrets as well, and it obviously doesn't affect them.
    Writing an open-source driver doesn't require them to release documentation, the only thing they would be required to provide would be the code itself. The released code is also only an interface to the hardware, so it's possible that code wouldn't touch areas of the chip that are sensitive (as we saw with AMD and UVD/DPM).

    Quote Originally Posted by Daktyl198 View Post
    If anything, it gives them an edge as the more RMS-minded of us are more likely to go with a company that supports Linux and FOSS.
    The number of RMS-minded people probably isn't many compared to those who aren't bothered.

    As for disadvantages:

    • you need to hire people to write the code.
    • the people writing the code mustn't accidentally expose too much information (e.g. UVD/DPM stuff), so those who have worked on the closed source driver may not be appropriate
    • if your binary-only driver works, your hardware won't look as good if people use the fledgling open source driver (which may well never be as good as the binary driver.


    Those are just from the top of my head.

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