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Open-Source Developers Speak Out About AMD

Michael Larabel

Published on 15 September 2007
Written by Michael Larabel
Page 1 of 2 - 1 Comment

AMD started delivering on their word of providing GPU specifications to the open-source community without a Non-Disclosure Agreement, and now with the 2007 X Developer Summit having come to a close, we asked several key members of the X.Org community on how they judge AMD's recent move. They were also asked if they believe NVIDIA will follow suit in helping the open-source community. Those that responded were David Airlie, Daniel Stone, Jerome Glisse, Stephane Marchesin, and Oliver McFadden. Mark Shuttleworth had also previously commented on AMD's efforts.

Daniel Stone serves as a board member for the X.Org Foundation, is an X.Org developer, and FreeDesktop.org administrator. Daniel Stone is also known for his work on the Nokia N770/800 Internet tablets running Linux. Below is what he had to say about AMD's open-source actions. He has also provided some other remarks on his blog.

We're really happy about what AMD have done. No-one was ever asking for the source to fglrx: we just wanted the specs, information about their BIOS, and access to engineers to answer more detailed technical questions. They've not only given us specs and some technical information that has already been useful (a number of us worked at the Avivo driver tonight, and got VGA monitor hot-plug detection working, among others), but the promise is of specs for 2D/3D acceleration, as well as the BIOS information. We can't ask for more than that.

I don't see why AMD would make these statements and really go out on a limb if they weren't genuine. Pretty solid evidence of this is that no-one was really expecting them to release specs with zero NDA.

Daniel Stone had also mentioned that in less than ten hours of the specifications being available, GPU specifications were downloaded from the X.Org server over 70,000 times and ate up more than 1.3 terabytes of bandwidth! Oliver McFadden is also an X.Org developer and recently has been working on the Revenge reverse-engineering utility. Oliver blogs about his progress with the Revenge utility on his Live Journal.

I think that AMD really does want to work with and help the Open Source community and they are making an amazing effort. The docs they have released so far seems to be very complete and thorough, and I have no reason to doubt the rest of the docs along with some source code (2D skeleton driver, Avivo library, etc) is forthcoming.

I really have no idea about NVIDIA's possible response. I think they may just ignore AMD and continue with their proprietary drivers; but I'd like to be proven wrong there. :-)

Hopefully AMD's efforts will show other hardware manufactures (not just of GPU's) that providing docs for their hardware is a viable option.
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