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Would A Kickstarter Open-Source GPU Work?

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  • #61
    Originally posted by Caledar View Post
    Are patents the killer of opensource development projects? It would be sad if one company in its own interests is allowed to hold a patents that make opensource projects impossible.

    One company working for its own interest and that of its shareholders (make more $$$ exploit when it can etc..) v.s. humanity in its FOS style?
    Your thoughts?
    Unfortunately I'm not philosophically inclined....

    But I think you are correct about patent law. All that requires for a patent to be filed in the US is for it to have some possible application. It doesnt really matter how flawed the design is as long as it has a use of some kind. There are US patents for some ridiculous things.


    • #62
      Originally posted by silix View Post
      People being happy with wasting money on a delusional project doesnt, in itself, make it a non - waste...
      I will say this one last time, Kickstater is about funding projects which are of interest to ones self. It still amazes me that people like yourself feel they have the right to tell people what they are allowed to do with their money.
      The project is not delusional the only thing delusional is your expectations. I've already provided a link to one such project which shows it can be achieved:

      From a pure interest and educational point of view this is worth some of my personnal money. Where else can you look at and tinker with the design of a GPU?
      Last edited by timothyja; 17 July 2013, 06:06 PM.


      • #63
        Originally posted by c117152 View Post
        This open GPU idea isn't "development of ideas or outside the box thinking". It's taking something we have on the shelf, from a half dozen companies, and reinventing it.
        If this was an initiative to buy the patent rights of an established and successful GPU, and then release them under a copyleft open hardware public license, I would be all for it. This way manufacturers would keep using it since it's already a success, but would also contribute improvements over time while keeping the tech accessible and affordable.
        And still, the amount of money necessary to pull something like this off is quite substantial. AMD sold their own to Qualcomm for 64M ( and it was considered a bargain at the time.
        How many people need to go RTFA?

        This is the developer of an established GPU (though not a major one) asking for funding to release it under some sort of open hardware license.


        • #64
          Originally posted by kertoxol View Post
          I don't know if a kickstarted open source gpu would work, but i know what would work: kickstarted open source gpu drivers (aka Nouveau and Radeon)
          I tried to get something like that off the ground see:

          The issue for me was tax. I could not take the donations directly and pay developers as I would have to pay tax or setup a non profit organisation. I did send some emails to some existing linux not for profits but never go a reply. I guess you could start up a campain if you were a dev with the skills to do the work. My idea was to try find some devs via odesk.


          • #65
            Originally posted by timothyja View Post
            Well we really need more details on what they are aiming to do to make any worthwhile comments. However I would assume they would definatly not be aiming for a top end GPU.

            Sure it can take a look at the most successful projects page:

            Many projects have gone into the millions with some notable ones:
            OUYA Console - $8,596,474
            Pebble ewatch - $10,266,845

            I wouldnt expect this project to reach such high numbers but I guess it depends on what they are going to offer. Probably the closest project I can think of to this one is the Parallella: and that reached $898,921
            And those projects didn't actually create any new hardware, all they did was repackage existing parts in a new way.

            To make a new GPU from scratch it's cost at minimum around $100 million and at least 3x that much after dealing with all of the patent and licensing issues. And this would likely get us a first few runs of $1000+ parts that would be slower then a bottom end GPU from near a decade ago.

            I'm sure my numbers are near an order of magnitude short since I remember reading a while back that it would take around $300 million in dev time to rebuild the OSS graphics stack and get all of the GPU drivers into a decent state.

            Then theres the problem of finding enough people with the necessary skill set to design the GPU, these people are rather rare and likely already quite busy doing so for their actual job.

            The entrenched players are there because their investments till profitability where made in the 80's and 90's, these days they are just building of of thteir previous tech, trying to catch up to them would be near impossible without spending huge amounts of money at a loss for several years.

            So, short of Redhat buying S3 or some other small time GPU company and building off what they have I don't see how this can work well enough to become a self supporting project.

            In the end it's like breaking into the auto industry. It's a billion dollar risk to enter the game with no promise of payoff unless you do something very novel like Tesla Motors has done. They had a crazy billionaire engineer willing to risk everything on his dream car and it actually worked. His cars prove that electric cars can be fast, have good range and look awesome(Though I'm not feeling the "gull wing" doors on the Model X, which otherwise looks sweet) and he's kicking Ford's Focus Electric and Nissan's Leaf asses up and down the block.


            • #66
              Hi All,
              My name is Frank Bruno and I'm the one who initially asked Michael his thoughts on the project.
              I'm actually tending to a sick relative right now, so i only had a chance to read the first few posts the other day. I will go through all the others in the coming week since I am very interested in everyones thoughts. To answer a couple of initial questions:

              1) Why not just do the kickstarter?
              I am one of two founders of the company in question. I am all for this, but I am trying to convince my partner this is worthwhile.

              2) What is the nature of the IP (paraphrased)

              My partner and I came from #9 and designed the four chips they did.
              The IP is a DX6/7 (possibly8) and OpenGL 2D/3D controller.
              The essentials:
              PCI (we have a version w/ AHB/ APB for ARM)
              CRT controller
              Full IBM compatible VGA (passes all Displaymate tests)
              2D engine:
              -Lines (error and non)
              -Solid Fills
              -Patterned fills
              - Blending

              3D engine:
              -Bilinear and Trilinear texture mapped triangles
              -Stretch copy mode (video)
              -Floating point parameters
              -Z buffering

              We also have other IP (Hardware VNC controller and some other stuff)

              It's all verilog w/ complete test bench.
              Drivers exist for Linux.
              T2R4 Windows drivers work as is (register compatible).
              The 2D design is ASIC proven.
              The 3D design is working on the board.
              This is very different than open graphics. These designs actually work running real OSes.

              The 2D controller fits in a small FPGA 20K LE or more.
              The 3D is about 85K LE part (I think, have to verify)

              It's a good starting point if someone wanted to try to switch to OpenCL or equivalent, but all of ouyr 3D functionality is a fixed function pipeline.

              Please feel free to follow up or message me your thoughts. I hope to be more active next week.



              • #67
                Originally posted by Caledar View Post
                It would be sad if one company in its own interests is allowed to hold a patents that make opensource projects impossible.
                That's, you know, kind of the point of patents: preventing other people from doing what you're doing without giving you money.

                And yes, they do make much open source hardware impossible.


                • #68
                  Hi Frank,

                  Thanks for your update.

                  First of all, YOUR IDEA IS EPIC !!! I initially give you 200usd, It isn't too much, but considering I have no idea of FPGA, is too much for me.
                  You and your partner will make a memorable starting point.

                  My point of view:
                  1) The target is not HIGHEND GPU, period. Just an opensource GPU that can be easy integrated in an CPU (opensource? maybe your project help other implement a complete opensource SOC)
                  2) +Educational purposes.
                  3) As soon as the performance reach an acceptable level, I think Chinese ARM integrator will choose it. Of course, initially will not be cheaper than nvida, amd, ARM. We shall not expect an opensource GPU/CPU to be cheaper than an ARM (for less than 8 usd you get 1~1.6ghz ARM rk3188,A20)

                  BTW: I backed PARALLELLA 64core and I'm proud of spending 200 USD in semiconductor startups.
                  Honestly, I wish your company publish your project in Kickstarter, you got my support.

                  PS: Actually, in my opinion, Kickstarter manage 90% useless projects, mainly oriented to "entertainment", which for me is a waste of money for what Kickstarter should be. A very small percentage is for science and technology.


                  • #69
                    Originally posted by fbruno View Post
                    The IP is a DX6/7 (possibly8) and OpenGL 2D/3D controller.
                    I like the idea of trimming all the Windows stuff and make a compact efficient Linux GPU, (only OpenGL?)

                    Originally posted by fbruno View Post
                    PCI (we have a version w/ AHB/ APB for ARM)
                    CRT controller
                    ARM support, great. DisplayPort could be an opensource initiative upgrade !

                    Originally posted by fbruno View Post
                    This is very different than open graphics. These designs actually work running real OSes.


                    • #70
                      Thanks for the initial vote. I am currently in FL attending to sick parents, but will push more on my partner next week.

                      In the FPGA version you need an external DVI/ HDMI chip which is fairly cheap. (This runs currently)
                      Displayport might actually be doable from the FPGA. I need to check, my partner did some work for this.

                      I'm not sure if it helps to strip out windows stuff, but since it's open source, it's easy enough to do.

                      A 2D board would likely cost far short of $100 in volume.
                      A 3D board less than $150-200.
                      (We would open source our current designs. Anyone could build them.)

                      An attractive thing is to use the new Xilinx or altera SOC's. Dual core Arms/ w/ the IP would be sweet.

                      I was a supporter of parallela also. The founder is a friend of my wife's.

                      I'll keep you guys informed. I want this to happen, it's convincing my partner which is the issue now.

                      Thanks again!