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S3 Graphics Responds About Linux Support

VIA

Published on 17 February 2009 07:42 AM EST
Written by Michael Larabel in VIA
14 Comments

Last week S3 Graphics had released the Chrome 540 GTX, which is their newest and fastest PCI Express graphics card. Similar to when announcing the S3 Chrome 540 GT, in the Chrome 540 GTX press release they once again mention Linux support along with OpenGL 3.0 capabilities. However, they talk up Linux support, but fail to provide the support. We have just heard back though from S3 Graphics' Benson Tao, which is the one that previously told us there would be Chrome 500 Linux support in December along with a beta OpenGL 3.0 driver. What though did he have to say this time? His email is below.

Hi Michael,

Thanks for getting back to me in the other email.

We are doing an internal build of the Chrome 500 Linux driver to incorporate some of the additional hardware features and upgrades (over the Chrome 400 Series GPUs).

If you want to test the Linux now, the Chrome 400 Series drivers also support the Chrome 500 Series since it is a unified driver architecture.

Thanks,
Benson


So now there is no ETA for when an S3 OpenGL 3.0 Linux driver will arrive. This time though he claims the Chrome 400 Linux driver (partially) supports the Chrome 500 series. On the Chrome 400 driver page, however, it lists the Chrome 430 GS, Chrome 430 GT, Chrome 440 GTX, Chrome 430 ULP, and Chrome 435 ULP as being the supported ASICs. The Chrome 400 Linux release notes also don't mention any support for the Chrome 500 series.

Benson also hadn't mentioned any Chrome 500 support in the Chrome 400 Linux driver when he originally talked up their new Linux driver. Their Chrome 400 Linux driver was last updated in November when they originally pushed the driver out, so it would be a bit hard to believe they had in all of the Chrome 500 PCI IDs at that time even for the just-released Chrome 540 GTX.

To make things more interesting, the kernel module for the Chrome 400 Linux driver claims its GPL licensed.

$ modinfo s3g.ko
filename: s3g.ko
license: GPL
srcversion: D1EEA2B5E900753E01FD4D1
depends:
vermagic: 2.6.24-19-generic SMP mod_unload 586


Included with the Linux driver package though is no real source-code (just a few source files for building the DRM), no GNU GPL license attached on any of it, and the LICENSE file shipping with the Chrome 400 Linux driver still very much reflects this driver being a binary blob. A mistake? Is S3 Graphics utilizing GPL-only symbols? Do they really mean for their kernel driver to be GPL?

Well, the S3 Graphics Linux situation still isn't clear. When we have any other information to report, we will be sure to do so. Share your thoughts in the forums.

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