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A New Open-Source GPU Comes About

Hardware

Published on 04 June 2012 05:52 AM EDT
Written by Michael Larabel in Hardware
11 Comments

After writing last month the open-source graphics card is dead and why the open-source graphics card failed, this weekend I received an email that begins with "Open Graphics! Here we go again! As our master thesis work we have implemented a open source graphics accelerator."

While the university crew designed an open-source graphics processor using an FPGA, they haven't written a proper Linux graphics driver, at least not yet. From part of the email I received, "While this is not anywhere close to OGP, it's a step in the right direction. The big difference is that the only requirement for our implementation is a FPGA and a RAM. This can easily be integrated with a softcore processor like Microblaze or NIOS or the one we have worked with: the OpenRISC. Yea, thats right we are running a open source graphics accelerator connected to a open source cpu architecture. When we get a linux driver up and running it will be a true open source computer with USB, Ethernet etc all open source."

The OpenRISC CPU architecture support was merged into the Linux 3.1 kernel last year. OpenRISC comes out of the OpenCores project as an effort to create an open-source RISC CPU architecture with their current implementation being the OpenRISC 1000.

The architecture/feature overview of this new open-source graphics accelerator can be found at OpenCores.org. If you're hoping this open-source design will handle advanced OpenGL and run Steam on Linux, no.
The ORSoC Graphics Accelerator can:
Draw Lines.
Draw Filled or Textured Rectangles.
Draw Filled, Interpolated or Textured Triangles.
Draw Filled Quadratic B├ęzier Curves.
Write Text with Bitmap Fonts or Vector Fonts.
Draw Alphablended shapes.
Draw Colorkeyed images.
Draw 3D meshes with support for depth buffer.
Transform points (scaling & rotation of triangles and vector fonts).

The ORSoC GFX have support for the following formats:
Support for .TTF fonts.
Support for .OBJ files for 3D meshes.
Support for .bmp, .png, .jpg, etc. (all formats supported by SDL_image).
An example implementation of the graphics accelerator can be found on GitHub for OpenRISC. The work is being developed under the name ORGFXSoC.

Right now they're planning to write a DirectFB driver, but they would be interested in a DRM/KMS driver... "We are planning on a fb based DirectFB driver, but a real DRM/DRI driver would be great." The bare metal drivers for ORGFXSoC can be found in Subversion.

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