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NVIDIA Gets Into Open-Source Hardware With A Ventilator Design

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  • #21
    Originally posted by bug77 View Post
    2. For their video driver, they have invested a lot into building one driver to work on various platforms. It is how they can justify supporting platforms with single digit market share.

    So they're not inherently hostile towards open source. But as much as we'd like to see an open source driver from them, that's not going to happen until it makes sense from a financial point of view. I.e. hope for such a driver, but don't hold your breath
    Bullshit. The argument has nothing to with finances. Nothing to do with marketshare. Nobody is asking nvidia to invest a single dollar, or write a single line of code.

    The only thing the Linux community has asked for, is the basic hardware documentation required so that we, the community, can write an open source driver. I.e. register info, microcode blobs, and the right to redistribute the blobs. This is historically how most hardware has been supported on Linux. And historically, most hardware manufacturers are happy to do so. It's a win-win for them after all - they get Linux support for their hardware basically for free.

    If nvidia wants to follow AMD's lead, and contribute code and help author the open source driver, hey that's great, but not at all required. And they are of course free to continue developing their closed source driver. All we want is basic product documentation. Which nvidia steadfastly refuses to share. Linus nailed it with his one finger salute.
    Last edited by torsionbar28; 01 May 2020, 09:56 PM.

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    • #22
      Originally posted by bug77 View Post
      You need to realize tow things:
      1. Nvidia has a lot of open source projects already. See https://developer.nvidia.com/open-source and https://github.com/NVlabs
      A lot of tiny projects that are quite niche.

      It's not that NVidia does not do anything open source at all. They just do not do the kinds of things Intel and AMD do. They don't contribute at the same
      level or quantity.

      Their sprinkling of crumbs over the years means very little.

      Originally posted by bug77 View Post
      2. For their video driver, they have invested a lot into building one driver to work on various platforms. It is how they can justify supporting platforms with single digit market share.

      So they're not inherently hostile towards open source. But as much as we'd like to see an open source driver from them, that's not going to happen until it makes sense from a financial point of view. I.e. hope for such a driver, but don't hold your breath
      Their whole model is backwards. Holding customers hostage to a piece of hardware that is otherwise a paperweight. Nice way of rationalizing vendor lock in for the wrong reasons.

      They very much are hostile towards open source. They could make the effort as other vendors do. They do not. Their inaction and unwillingness to assist in any manner speaks volumes towards their hostility towards open source.

      I'm hoping they don't fuck things up with Mellanox.

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      • #23
        Originally posted by brad0 View Post
        Their whole model is backwards. Holding customers hostage to a piece of hardware that is otherwise a paperweight. Nice way of rationalizing vendor lock in for the wrong reasons.
        Its only a paperweight if you decide not to use their blobs, its not like you cant use their cards.

        Originally posted by brad0 View Post

        They very much are hostile towards open source. They could make the effort as other vendors do. They do not. Their inaction and unwillingness to assist in any manner speaks volumes towards their hostility towards open source.

        I'm hoping they don't fuck things up with Mellanox.
        Maybe assuming that instead of them being hostile take the benefit of the doubt and assume that they have legitimate reasons for not being able to do open source in the way you want, i.e. (legal IP , reputation, business etc etc).

        For one thing, you can forget about them open sourcing their current driver, most likely due to legal reasons (there is still SG IP in their blobs, see https://www.eetimes.com/sgi-graphics...es-to-nvidia/#). You can also probably forget about them doing an open source driver from scratch because of these issues, its going to be very hard for them to state that their code is clean room (which they have to do in order to protect themselves from IP issues) when they are also the same company that is working on the close sourced driver, i.e. they would probably have to make a separate company just for this. Also they started signing their GPU drivers because companies were making fake NVdia cards in China for mining (i.e. they were making the cards themselves and putting NVidia drivers on them and selling them as NVidia even though NVidia never made the cards). The only thing you can really blame them for is not giving the specifications for the cards to at least allow jump starting the community driven Nouveau driver.

        This is one of the annoying things with using IP based proprietary software and not getting yourself free out of it soon, you are kinda stuck with it (for mainly legal and not technical reasons). Remember that when AMD started open source, they were basically rock bottom as a graphics card manufacturer and had nothing to lose (their drivers were terrible at the time and historically their Linux drivers were terrible, open source or not). They started the open sourcing as a separate branch (probably after ratifying they were free from legal issues) and it took a good decade for the drivers to become "usable".

        On the other hand with NVidia, they rely on their blob because its (more or less) guaranteed to work just as well compared to platforms like Windows, which matters a lot for linux HPC. The tl;dr is, it takes like a decade to get open source drivers for something like a graphics card to become usable, during the entire time the drivers are often sub-par.

        Lets hope that the upcoming open source announcement means that NVidia will provide a solution to the firmware problem as well as hardware specifications (allowing you to do something like unclock the core voltage), honestly thats as much as we should be expecting from them.
        Last edited by mdedetrich; 10 May 2020, 01:02 PM.

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        • #24
          Originally posted by torsionbar28 View Post
          Bullshit. The argument has nothing to with finances. Nothing to do with marketshare. Nobody is asking nvidia to invest a single dollar, or write a single line of code.
          How to write/review/verify documentation at no cost?

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          • #25
            Originally posted by esbeeb View Post
            If this hardware actually works well, then I don't see how anyone could possibly find reason to gripe. Nvidia's Open Source respirator design beats the pants and shoes off everyone else's non-existent Open Source ventilator design.

            NVidia, you just earned yourself a lifelong customer, just so long as you don't put any evil or privacy-violating secret sauce in your closed source drivers.
            You can also consider this design from NASA, yes NASA and not NSA. It's even FDA approved.

            https://hackaday.com/2020/05/01/fda-...on-laboratory/

            https://www.theverge.com/2020/4/29/2...ic-coronavirus


            And I hear that MIT has their own open source ventilator design....

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            • #26
              So many snarky posts in this thread that make me wish Michael would implement a "Dislike" button to go along with the "Like" button, but oh wait, a "Dislike" button might offend the sensitive snowflakes out there....

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              • #27
                Originally posted by esbeeb View Post
                If this hardware actually works well, then I don't see how anyone could possibly find reason to gripe. Nvidia's Open Source respirator design beats the pants and shoes off everyone else's non-existent Open Source ventilator design.

                NVidia, you just earned yourself a lifelong customer, just so long as you don't put any evil or privacy-violating secret sauce in your closed source drivers.
                I believe you just did: you put Nvidia in the title, you get the knee-jerk reactions.
                Nvidia could cure cancer tomorrow and a series of posters around here (and elsewhere) would still hold them in contempt for not having open source Linux drivers.

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                • #28
                  Originally posted by bug77 View Post

                  Yeah, I wondered about that for a while, too. Turns out they keep it locked to curb the problem of fake cards.
                  That explains the signing. I have no issue with that.

                  But preventing redistribution means those carrying out illicit activities continue as normal as they wont follow licences, but those doing legitimate work like OSS drivers are prevented from releasing useful drivers because they will not provide the required firmware. This is what killed Noveau - it was doing spectacularly well given its resources until then.

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                  • #29
                    Originally posted by esbeeb View Post
                    NVidia, you just earned yourself a lifelong customer, just so long as you don't put any evil or privacy-violating secret sauce in your closed source drivers.
                    Of course with the driver being closed source, you will never know if they do anything "evil or privacy-violating". Hence one of the reasons for many people being against closed source drivers/software.

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                    • #30
                      There are very good reasons to publish covid19 ventilator designs as opensource hardware.

                      With such huge demand, nobody has a steady supply of ready-made ones from a single manufacturer, parts are also hard to get in a steady fashion, adapted designs are being rushed all around and need to be verifiable by anyone (not just FDA/FCC/...) because they also have no time to go through all of them at once, Nvidia wouldn't repurpose their own factories for this, the prices have to be as cheap as possible for bulk-buyers and to help them get to where they're necessary even in poorer places...

                      ...so there here is no real money in making a closed design with your own expensive parts and on the other hand there is a lot to gain for everyone in distributing as many designs as possible openly and impriving/adapting them as necessary given all these constraints.

                      It's not just PR either... companies are made of people, whose lives (and those of their loved ones) are also at stake everywhere. People are probably at their best productive mindsets now if they can tackle that challenge instead of pretending it's not there.

                      And given all that, obviously it's absolutely not true that only Nvidia published open designs for respirators!

                      Here are a couple good ones from universities in my country:
                      http://www.ufpb.br/inova/contents/no...sas-produzirem
                      (less than 100 dollars)

                      https://github.com/Inspire-Poli-USP/Inspire-OpenLung
                      (even cheaper and allegedly can be used long-term even outside the context of the COVID emergency, IoT-ready for remote monitoring and integration into hospital dashboards, etc)

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