When we had initially interviewed Jeryuan Yan, the Business Development manager of XGI Technology, back on June 30 of this year (days before Computex Taipei 2005) we proposed the question whether they had any interest in releasing the entire source-code to their display drivers to the public rather than simply some particular developers (mainly Xorg) under a Non-Disclosure Agreement. Of course, if you had read the excerpts from this interview, you will know that Jeryuan had responded with a prompt "we will consider your suggestion". The focus of the question at the time was in hope on finding if their drivers would ever be made into open-source software in order to speed the maturity of their display drivers as well as inspiring third-party XGI utilities. After some additional lobbying to XGI representatives, we had not heard any additional information on the OSS possibility for XGI Reactor drivers for a few months but today we were appalled when we had received a message from Jeryuan Yan and Jong Lin (XGI developer). As you may recall, on April 11 of this year XGI had announced the 2D source-code release to Xorg/XFree86 and Kernel.org. Unfortunately, this release had not had the impact that XGI anticipated and what enthusiasts thought would be the age of FOSS graphics drivers. As this opened code only contained package installation and Frame Buffer device (FBDev) support, not all OSS enthusiasts were enlightened by this availability. Similarly days before XGI's press release, VIA had announced Linux open-source drivers for S3 Graphics UniChrome, VIA ProSavage, and ProSavage DDR products. However, today we have much more head-turning news and that is XGI's intent of releasing their complete display drivers for their Volari 8300 product. Yes that is right, XGI Technology is presently investigating the benefits of opening up their entire driver development process as well as the various open-source models through which to release their software. In addition, the code may be released as soon as the middle of next month when the 8300 part reaches market, or so we have been told. Although we will not share all of the specifics as to their drivers open-source intentions, as all of the details are presently being worked out, we are most reasonably certain that the complete code package will be released, and in a GPL-like fashion. By Christmas of this year, if not Q1 of 2006 when the XGI Volari 8 parts are widely available, we can probably expect to see an official announcement from XGI. Of course, we will post any major public happenings as they occur. We imagine XGI will also release its unified drivers with support for the Volari V3/V8 series to the open-source community. Only time will tell whether this will cause a revolution in the graphics market. Keeping in mind, NVIDIA has been slow at coming to the table with their Linux Rel80 drivers, or any other drivers since its previous early August release, while ATI has been consistently releasing Linux RADEON drivers on a timed basis. Neither of which companies will make their drivers OSS due to the intellectual property involved.
Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 10,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.