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Would A Kickstarter Open-Source GPU Work?

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  • ssam
    replied
    Originally posted by Drago View Post
    Please, can you post link to HDL files, to actual Epiphany chip design. In their repo I found the board schematics, FPGA HDL files for IO and HDMI controller, but no actual chip design files. I tkink it is not as open as they claim it to be.
    I guess its just the parallela board that's open hardware. There is certainly a lot of documentation about the epiphany chip. But then again can you get the HDL for a Xilinx FPGA? Not the virtual chip being run on the FPGA, but the FPGA it self. I.E. if i owned a chip fab, could I build this open graphics card, or would I have to purchase an FPGA?

    Still, if you put an epiphany on a PCIE board with a DVI/HDMI then you would have a fast GPU which would be easy to right all open drivers for with no binary firmware blobs.

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  • Drago
    replied
    Originally posted by ssam View Post
    There will certainly be plenty of people who don't care. If you look through these forums you see people who use the closed AMD and Nvidia drivers because frames per second matter more to them than open source.

    There will also be people who care about open source, but are satisfied with current offerings from intel and AMD.

    Then there will be people who follow the FSF hardline, and consider closed firmware to be a deal breaker. (see the very sort list of FSF recommended distros https://www.gnu.org/distros/free-distros.html ). The FSF refused to endorse the Openmoko GTA04 phone, because of a proprietary firmware, even though its the openest phone in production. So you should probably talk to them about your design.

    Personally I'd throw some money at your project (like i did with the open graphics project). I think its great to see some open innovation in this area. Though I'm not convinced an FPGA is good for a final project.

    What I'd really like to see would be a GPU based on the adapteva epiphany. Its already opensource, has small footprint and power requirements, looks like it can do the sort of calculations that graphics needs, scales to as many cores as you want, etc. I guess you just point llvmpipe at it and you have a graphics card.
    Please, can you post link to HDL files, to actual Epiphany chip design. In their repo I found the board schematics, FPGA HDL files for IO and HDMI controller, but no actual chip design files. I tkink it is not as open as they claim it to be.

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  • ssam
    replied
    There will certainly be plenty of people who don't care. If you look through these forums you see people who use the closed AMD and Nvidia drivers because frames per second matter more to them than open source.

    There will also be people who care about open source, but are satisfied with current offerings from intel and AMD.

    Then there will be people who follow the FSF hardline, and consider closed firmware to be a deal breaker. (see the very sort list of FSF recommended distros https://www.gnu.org/distros/free-distros.html ). The FSF refused to endorse the Openmoko GTA04 phone, because of a proprietary firmware, even though its the openest phone in production. So you should probably talk to them about your design.

    Personally I'd throw some money at your project (like i did with the open graphics project). I think its great to see some open innovation in this area. Though I'm not convinced an FPGA is good for a final project.

    What I'd really like to see would be a GPU based on the adapteva epiphany. Its already opensource, has small footprint and power requirements, looks like it can do the sort of calculations that graphics needs, scales to as many cores as you want, etc. I guess you just point llvmpipe at it and you have a graphics card.

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  • dee.
    replied
    Open hardware? Sounds great. Let's hope they pull it through. The performance doesn't really matter at this point, this is proof-of-concept level stuff here so all they need to do is prove it's viable to create an open source GPU. After that, it's going to snowball from there.

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  • Shnatsel
    replied
    People don't seem to get that this is about open-sourcing the hardware and not just parts of software. This is unprecedented in the GPU market so far - GPUs have always been the tinkerer's agony. And having a GPU with open hardware might be epic - not only for education, but also for companies who need a modified GPU design and don't wanto to license someone's IP for insane amounts of money.

    I don't get why they *ask* if it will be successful if they try and crowdfund it. Checking if there's enough interest and money to implement some crazy project is what kickstarter is about.

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  • teotwawki
    replied
    I would ..

    What would be cool is a completely open-source computer (I'm talking desktop here, not a little Raspberry Pi), but just a GPU isn't going to do any good.[/QUOTE]

    AFAIK, The GPU is the ONLY component of a computer remaining for which there isn't a fully open source choice.
    There are already open source CPUs though not ARM or x86 compatible.

    I liked the open-source graphics card a lot but the entry price was too high (very low volume). So perhaps with Kickstarters model of going big or going home might break the tipping point. Also open source (both hardware & software) have gained a lot of acceptance since then.

    I'd particularly like the ability to re-program the FPGA at will, E.g. Litecoin mining at night.

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  • timothyja
    replied
    Originally posted by johnc View Post
    waste of time
    Much like all of your comments

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  • johnc
    replied
    waste of time

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  • timothyja
    replied
    Originally posted by Ibidem View Post
    First, they obviously already have something that can do OpenGL:
    "been around for a number of years...contemplating open-sourcing their 2D/3D graphics engine"

    I am curious about some things:
    1) What level of OpenGL?
    If it's 2.1 or better, I'm interested.

    2) How many LUTs/slices? Is this going to work on a Spartan, or will it take a Virtex?
    I presume that it's semi-reasonable from this:
    "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."

    But if it takes so much space that it costs $200+ for a compatible FPGA, you might have difficulties.

    3) What license? If it's GPL or another Free license rather than some custom one, that makes a big difference. And in hardware, I'm fine with a dual-license model.

    4) What price? Do they need $500,000 for review, or is it $50,000,000?

    5) What performance? Just a couple tests of 2d/3d or a comparison to some mainstream gpu will be enough.

    6) Are there other features?

    7) Current status of Linux support?

    Answer these questions and it will be much more interesting. Without performance and GL level, it's not something we can really answer.
    Also, if they do go ahead, I'd be willing to go for boards from their clients.
    Some great questions maybe Michael could pass them on and report back what they are willing to share at this point.

    Originally posted by Delgarde View Post
    Ok, then... are they aiming for a *bottom end* GPU? Because producing something competitive with even the worst graphics hardware available today is still a huge effort, huge cost. And while there are no doubt some hobbyists keen to fund such a thing just for kicks, I figure it's going to be a much smaller number than something like Parallella, which is actually useful to people.
    Some answers to the questions from Ibidem would be helpful before speculating further. As for Parallella the initial board that was being funded was actually not that impressive its the future planned boards that become more useful so I dont see this project from being to different in that regard.

    Originally posted by Figueiredo View Post
    As said by many, I also don't see much benefit in having a completely open source hardware that will never catch up to the closed ones.
    No one can know how far a project can go. Will it ever catch up to the closed source ones who knows, all you can do is support projects you are interested in and see what happens.

    1991, Linus announces Linux to the world:
    "Hello everybody out there using minix -

    I'm doing a (free) operating system (just a hobby, won't be big and professional like gnu) for 386(486) AT clones. This has been brewing since april, and is starting to get ready. I'd like any feedback on things people like/dislike in minix, as my OS resembles it somewhat (same physical layout of the file-system (due to practical reasons) among other things).

    I've currently ported bash(1.08) and gcc(1.40), and things seem to work. This implies that I'll get something practical within a few months, and I'd like to know what features most people would want. Any suggestions are welcome, but I won't promise I'll implement them :-)

    Linus ([email protected])
    PS. Yes ? it's free of any minix code, and it has a multi-threaded fs. It is NOT portable (uses 386 task switching etc), and it probably never will support anything other than AT-harddisks, as that's all I have :-(.
    ?Linus Torvalds [12]"

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  • timothyja
    replied
    Originally posted by Ragas View Post
    The problem with Open Hardware in comparison to Open Source is that you can't just build and change it in your backyard a few times a day.
    While it is true that you wont be getting free upgrades or be able to do to much tweaking on the hardware side. However how many of us actually develop and modifiy kernel code other than applying patches (developed by others) here and there. Most of the kernel work is done by commercial companys, this project would be similar in that changes would be mainly worked on by a commercial companys. The point is all those companies would be contributing back to the project with the possible help of PhD students, Uni professors, etc. You could in theory (if you have the knowledge) apply customised changes and get your own batch manufactued who knows maybe even with the help of your own kickstarter.

    The other advantage I see is that if this takes off and uses Mesa as a base that would equal another batch of contributors/testers which can only help boost the project.
    Last edited by timothyja; 07-16-2013, 11:44 PM.

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