XGI Linux Support Takes A Final Blow
Written by Michael Larabel in Hardware on 15 July 2008 at 06:37 PM EDT. 2 Comments
Back before ATI had acquired Macrosynergy from XGI, XGI Technology had a semi-hopeful future of producing low-to-mid-range graphics cards and presenting consumers with an additional choice. Their binary Linux drivers had sucked, and that's putting it in nice words. XGI's Linux driver for earlier AGP-based Volari GPUs was limited to Linux 2.4 kernel support, was late in supporting versions of X.Org, and it was just a complete mess. However, as we had exclusively shared, XGI was considering an open-source driver (this was back in 2005, long before ATI started their open-source strategy and prior to Intel providing GPU documentation).

XGI never ended up shipping their discrete PCI Express graphics cards, and with that hope was lost in XGI Technology becoming an interesting open-source company. XGI is still in business, but they just focus on server IGP chipsets and other embedded solutions.

About a year ago, we were greeted with news that open-source Linux support for XGI graphics weren't completely dead. Ian Romanick, an X developer who was working for IBM at the time, had written XG40 DRM support for the the Volari V3EX, V3XT, V5, and V8 graphics cards. In August of 2007 prior to the release of X.Org 7.3, Ian released the XGI 1.5.0 open-source X driver. It was then revealed that IBM was funding this open-source XGI work as they were shipping an XGI XP10 graphics processor in a PowerPC server.

Since then, we haven't heard anything about XGI Volari improvements for Linux nor have we seen any code commits to the driver's development tree. Today though we have found out that Ian Romanick has left IBM. When leaving IBM, he had returned his hardware and unpublished documentation back to the original sources. With that said, it looks like the final chapter has been written in the XGI Linux book.

The good news though is that Ian Romanick has joined Intel. Ian will be serving as the "OpenGL guru" for Intel's Open-Source Technology Center (OTC) where he'll be working on improving their OpenGL support. Ian will be addressing OpenGL issues, working to get the GLX protocol working for buffer objects, and he'll also be responsible for improving the performance of Mesa and their drivers on multi-core processors (read: SMP driver optimizations and Mesa performance improvements in time for Intel's Larrabee discrete GPU).
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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 Twitter or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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