Back on September 6th of this year AMD shocked the open-source community by committing to the development of a new open-source display driver (this driver is now known as RadeonHD) and that they would be providing specifications to the development community. A week later, they set precedence by not only releasing the documentation to the developers but to the everyone! Their first batch of documentation covered the basics for the RV630 and M56 GPUs and was released freely to the public without any Non-Disclosure Agreement! However, they still have much more GPU documentation that has yet to be released. Some simply believe AMD is doing this as a publicity stunt, but today we have new details to share as they prepare for their next GPU documentation release.
The leading question most of you are likely wondering is why there hasn't been anymore ATI GPU specifications released in over two months. Well, as we have shared in earlier articles, AMD has had limited staff devoted to sanitizing the documentation and getting it cleared by their legal department for release. However, that is about to change. AMD's John Bridgman has confirmed that they are in the process of hiring new people to do all of the planned documentation and support work that will help the open-source community. Within a couple weeks, these new AMD employees will begin this crusade.
John Bridgman has also stated that their next documentation release will cover the M76 and RS690. The M76 is what is found in the ATI Mobility Radeon 2600 series graphics cards. The ATI RS690 is their newer integrated graphics chipset and is known as the Radeon X1250. These documents will cover I2C and LVTMA information, compared to the previous document dump. Novell has the new M76 and RS690 documents in hand while they will be released to the public in the near future.
Regarding the newly announced Radeon HD 3850 and HD 3870 graphics cards, the open-source RadeonHD driver should "just work" with very few changes as the RV670 is based upon RV600 mode-setting.
While the 2D component for RadeonHD is not yet stable, extensive planning is already underway for open-source 3D support. There is a real possibility that come Christmas, you could find at least some of the 3D documentation in your stocking. This is a hope by AMD to have them out by the end of the year, but like everything else, there could be a delay pushing it to H1'08 as this schedule is only tentative. The 3D documentation will consist heavily upon sample code rather than the internal register documentation we have seen thus far.
Another issue coming up when discussing the 3D plans for the open-source driver is whether they will target the current Mesa architecture or jump immediately on the Gallium3D bandwagon. For now, it looks like they will continue with the existing Mesa architecture.
That's about it for details we are allowed to share right now. The two main things to gather is that AMD has brought upon new staff dedicated towards enabling the open-source community and that new NDA-free GPU documentation is in the process of being released.