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Would A Kickstarter Open-Source GPU Work?

Free Software

Published on 16 July 2013 06:05 PM EDT
Written by Michael Larabel in Free Software
105 Comments

The Kickstarter crowd-funding development platform has successfully worked for funding many computer games, a few interesting hardware projects, and other initiatives, but would it work for having an open-source graphics processor? A company may be turning to Kickstarter to open-source their 2D and 3D graphics designs.

I was contacted earlier today by a company that's been around for a number of years and they are contemplating open-sourcing their 2D/3D graphics engine if they are able to obtain funding via Kickstarter. Their 3D-capable VGA-compliant graphics engine is designed to run on a FPGA and they are willing to "open source the whole thing" if their financing is a success. Up to now the company has licensed their technology to various firms.

Their "open-sourcing" would be in the form of Verilog with test benches and the whole shebang, including designs for the Xilinx and Altera FPGAs. The company asked me if they think putting it on Kickstarter would be a success, but I figured I'd open the question to the Phoronix community itself as many already know my thoughts on licensing, why the open-source graphics card failed, etc.

There's already been Project VGA and other initiatives to create open-source FPGA graphics cards and they have all basically failed miserably. For most users, the level of open-source drivers to Radeon, Intel, and Nouveau are already good enough without needing the physical designs or source access to the microcode blobs. Spending less than $50 on a AMD or NVIDIA graphics card is likely to yield much better success for desktop end-users -- in terms of features, performance, and reliability -- than contributing any dollar about to a Kickstarter (or any community-based) open-source GPU project.

About The Author
Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the web-site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience and being the largest web-site devoted to Linux hardware reviews, particularly for products relevant to Linux gamers and enthusiasts but also commonly reviewing servers/workstations and embedded Linux devices. Michael has written more than 10,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics hardware drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated testing software. He can be followed via and or contacted via .
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