1. Computers
  2. Display Drivers
  3. Graphics Cards
  4. Memory
  5. Motherboards
  6. Processors
  7. Software
  8. Storage
  9. Operating Systems


Facebook RSS Twitter Twitter Google Plus


Phoronix Test Suite

OpenBenchmarking.org

Super! Patented Mesa Floating-Point Is Merged!

Mesa

Published on 15 April 2011 08:29 AM EDT
Written by Michael Larabel in Mesa
32 Comments

Here's quite a pleasant surprise to wake up to this morning: OpenGL floating-point textures and render-targets support has finally been merged to mainline Mesa master! The drawn-out process that began more than a month ago is finally over.

Pushed to Mesa master over the night was Marek Olšák's patches for float textures in supporting the ARB_texture_float extension and render-buffers, which is part of the OpenGL 3.0 specification. Marek's work is fully supported in the ATI R300 Gallium3D driver while other drivers can now easily hook into this newly-added support that up until now was living in a branched version of Mesa.

Though as previously discussed, while this code is now in the mainline Mesa code-base and will be part of the Mesa 7.11 release, it will not be enabled by default. Due to patent concerns, enabling this support must be done at compile-time by setting the --enable-texture-float flag. If it's not set, you'll still be left without the support. At least though it's easier building mainline Mesa rather than having to worry about separate branches, etc.

The patches dropping in this support can be found from the Mesa Git log. VMware's José Fonseca has also added a patents document to the Mesa tree that describes this situation.
ARB_texture_float:

Silicon Graphics, Inc. owns US Patent #6,650,327, issued November 18, 2003 [1].

SGI believes this patent contains necessary IP for graphics systems implementing floating point rasterization and floating point framebuffer capabilities described in ARB_texture_float extension, and will discuss licensing on RAND terms, on an individual basis with companies wishing to use this IP in the context of conformant OpenGL implementations [2].

The source code to implement ARB_texture_float extension is included and can be toggled on at compile time only by those who purchased a license from SGI, or are in a country where the patent does not apply.

The software is provided "as is", without warranty of any kind, express or implied, including but not limited to the warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose and noninfringement. In no event shall the authors or copyright holders be liable for any claim, damages or other liability, whether in an action of contract, tort or otherwise, arising from, out of or in connection with the software or the use or other dealings in the software.

You should contact a lawyer or SGI's legal department if you want to enable this extension.

[1] http://www.google.com/patents/about?id=mIIOAAAAEBAJ&dq=6650327
[2] http://www.opengl.org/registry/specs/ARB/texture_float.txt

Don't expect to find this enabled-by-default soon in any mainstream Linux distributions over these patent concerns. The Linux Foundation was looking into 3D patent issues as it would be rather great if SGI would voluntarily provide a patent covenant to the open-source / Mesa community, but so far it doesn't appear their legal work has done any good. Back at the Linux Foundation Collaboration Summit earlier in the month I asked Keith Packard if he heard anything resulting from the Linux Foundation looking into the Mesa patent issues, but he hadn't heard of anything coming to fruition.

Meanwhile, the S3TC texture compression work hasn't been merged to mainline Mesa. While this too is in another patent mess, this at least can be provided to Mesa by an external shared library and doesn't need to be built into core Mesa itself for being a clean implementation.

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 .
Latest Linux Hardware Reviews
  1. MSI X99S SLI PLUS On Linux
  2. NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970 Offers Great Linux Performance
  3. CompuLab Intense-PC2: An Excellent, Fanless, Mini PC Powered By Intel's i7 Haswell
  4. From The Atom 330 To Haswell ULT: Intel Linux Performance Benchmarks
Latest Linux Articles
  1. Open-Source Radeon 2D Performance Is Better With Ubuntu 14.10
  2. RunAbove: A POWER8 Compute Cloud With Offerings Up To 176 Threads
  3. 6-Way Ubuntu 14.10 Linux Desktop Benchmarks
  4. Ubuntu 14.10 XMir System Compositor Benchmarks
Latest Linux News
  1. Dead Island GOTY Now Available On Linux/SteamOS
  2. Ubuntu 14.04 In The Power8 Cloud From RunAbove
  3. KDE With Theoretical Client-Side Decorations, Windows 10 Influence
  4. Sandusky Lee: Great Cabinets For Storing All Your Computer Gear
  5. Fedora 21 Beta & Final Release Slip Further
  6. Mesa 10.3.2 Has A Couple Bug-Fixes
  7. RadeonSI/R600g HyperZ Support Gets Turned Back On
  8. openSUSE Factory & Tumbleweed Are Merging
  9. More Fedora Delays: Fedora 21 Beta Slips
  10. Mono Brings C# To The Unreal Engine 4
Latest Forum Discussions
  1. HOPE: The Ease Of Python With The Speed Of C++
  2. Use Ubuntu MATE 14.10 Make it an official distro.
  3. Users/Developers Threatening Fork Of Debian GNU/Linux
  4. Debian Is Back To Discussing Init Systems, Freedom of Choice
  5. AMD Radeon VDPAU Video Performance With Gallium3D
  6. Updated and Optimized Ubuntu Free Graphics Drivers
  7. Ubuntu 16.04 Might Be The Distribution's Last 32-Bit Release
  8. Linux hacker compares Solaris kernel code: