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I was considering moving away from Intel due to their allegiance to Microsoft.
Go look at the top contributors list to the Linux kernel sometime, you'll note that Intel consistently the largest contributing company that isn't a 100% Linux based organization like Redhat. You won't see AMD anywhere near the top of that list. I think that the fact that Intel is the first company to bring Android into the 64-bit world and that there are excellent Chromebooks running on Haswell parts speaks volumes about how important they think Linux is and where they are going with Linux.
Just remember that back in the 90's when Microsoft was on trial for anti-trust violations it was Jerry Sanders, CEO of AMD, who got up on the witness stand and testified in favor of Microsoft. I always remember that when their PR department starts up with the usual self-serving whining about how Intel is a "monopoly" or something.
Just remember that AMD branded its own CPUs as "Athlon XP" right around 2001 when Microsoft launched "Windows XP". You think that was a coincidence?
When thinking about Intel vs. AMD here's the easiest way to frame the question: "Would my machine even boot if I stripped out all the Linux code contributed by company X". If you strip out AMD's contributions, then even on an AMD box your machine would still boot fine (you might lose GPU drivers if you use open-source AMD drivers). If you strip out all the Intel-contributed code, your AMD box wouldn't even come close to completing a boot sequence.
He might just want to support the only dedicated gpu company with a foss driver, even if he isn't using it yet.
This is actually a legitimate thing -- I'm on the brink of selling my 7970M laptop in order to build out a new Nvidia-based desktop, but ... the appeal of having working open source drivers is really, really tempting. I can already play most of the things I want on radeonsi, and the future is looking pretty bright for GCN-based AMD cards.
What if they have backdoors in the Firmware too?
I'd actually be curious to know what the ATI firmware has access to. Since the firmware is only used for 3D functions (xf86-video-ati is 100% open source, afaik) does that mean that the firmware only has access to 3D-related things? Additionally I seem to recall an ATI dev posting here on the forums in a post a few months ago explaining that while the firmware code is proprietary, the firmware operation is very transparent and it's supposedly pretty clear to see what's going on with it.
If you remember, AMD pushed *hard* to use a firmware blob in Radeon, instead of the clean-room approach of RadeonHD.
I'm not sure that RadeonHD was any different -- as mentioned above, I'm pretty sure all Radeon cards have required a pretty minimal firmware blob only for 3D functions. This is how distros like Trisquel get away with running on ATI systems -- they just use the 2D driver, and don't touch the 3D stuff because it's the 3D firmware that's proprietary, not the 2D.
I'm still leaning toward "debugging function" as an explanation. Though really, in my mind, what this comes down to is the fact that Nvidia is just far more intelligent about their variable/function naming. :P
I'd say wait a bit. It's probably a funny name for some harmless debug hook.
I'm betting on this too. If AMD really wanted to make a backdoor... do you really think they'd name it something as silly as "backdoor"? Plus, maybe it's a backdoor to other GPU features, not user-information.
It's interesting how people blow stuff out of proportion without facts, but lets see what AMD's PR can come up with.
Additionally I seem to recall an ATI dev posting here on the forums in a post a few months ago explaining that while the firmware code is proprietary, the firmware operation is very transparent and it's supposedly pretty clear to see what's going on with it.
An AMD dev on here said a while back the firmware only ran during card initialization and was mainly to obfuscate how it starts up. Doesn't really excuse it existing, I wonder why nobody has tried to just use their card documentation to just rewrite the firmware blobs.
TestBackdoor lol ... I tried this on my girlfriend once. I think they're implying that they are putting it in our... oh wait.
Yeah, keep bashing AMD and use your NSA enabled Intel CPU's you fuckwits. Okay lets see if this damn thing exists.... osTestBackdoorATI, yup it's there. I guess be thankful it's only a test .... Oh well, It's not like facebook, google, apple, microsoft or another company is holding out. I would bet if this is what it seems NVidia kowtowed as well. Hopefully for their PR they didn't name their backdoor... um backdoor..