Open-Source Developers Speak Out About AMD
Written by Michael Larabel in Display Drivers on 15 September 2007. Page 2 of 2. 1 Comment

Jerome Glisse, the mastermind behind the open-source ATI R500/600 "Avivo" X.Org driver, also had provided his thoughts.

I believe the people at AMD who are working on providing us specifications are really going through a hard time to provide us with the information we need, and we are very thankful to them. I know it's hard for people to imagine how hard it can be and don't have any idea on the involved process and difficulties.

Anyway, I am confident that their new strategy wasn't bullshit and I saw people on the net stating that one year ago there was exactly the same fuse but no result. I would really like if one of those guys can point me to a declaration of any AMD or ATI people about going open source or providing specification one year ago. I am pretty sure no one from AMD did say such things. So now they proved their new commitment and we are looking forward for more information :) Of course the community will make sure that thanks to their release they end up with the best open source driver (actual one being the Intel driver :)).

One thing that people should understand now is that even having specs doesn't make it easy to write a driver. I believe most of the people who already looked at them did find out that you need to already know a few things before understanding it.

On the NVIDIA side, I wish that they follow the same path but I don't think they will, they are in a very different situation than AMD.

So to sum up, I am very excited about their move and wish they get the support from the whole community as I believe we need to make them feel that their strategy is going to be fruitful to them.

Last but certainly not least, David Airlie is the developer behind the original R500 2D driver, but was never permitted by AMD to release the source-code. David Airlie is also involved with the Radeon driver and recently has been working on the Nouveau driver as well. David does blog about some driver developments on his Live Journal. Below are his comments.

This effort from AMD seems very genuine to me, they've worked with me very closely for the past 3 months and I've had a large number of talks with them over the past couple of days at XDS, including a lift to the airport this morning. They seem to be gaining a greater appreciation for the community developers since meeting them at XDS.

People need to understand this is a lot more about AMD internal processes being setup and methods for divulging the information than it is about just dropping the specs into a vacuum. So far the specs are being cleaned manually by one or maybe two AMD staff members, and they are being released as soon as the legal department allows (I got given the CD about 10 minutes after AMD legal signed off).

So the reason AMD started an open source GPU strategy was purely due to 2 things:

1.) Lost CPU sales due to lack of open source GPU support at an OEM level.
2.) Future CPU/GPU combination projects would require opening info on the GPU portion to allow uptake.

They didn't do this due to a community backlash, or boycott, or any member of Linux community persuading them it would be a good idea (I keep hearing oh Chris DiBona made them do it, he didn't.) [Google & Open-Source ATI/NVIDIA Drivers]

So on that note NVIDIA has no reason to follow suit, the AMD reasons are due to the merging of CPU and GPU in the future and also to do with lost CPU sales due to lack of open source GPUs to work with them. This incentive can't work for the NVIDIA case so I can't see this having much effect on them, maybe some of the other methods might be more useful in that situation. I personally will just keep helping out nouveau in any way I can whenever I can.

The leader of the Nouveau project for providing an open-source 3D NVIDIA driver, Stephane Marchesin, had told Phoronix that he didn't know if NVIDIA would follow AMD but that everyone can only hope they will. He also believed that AMD's efforts were genuine and something to be happy about. AMD sets a precedence that other vendors will hopefully follow just not in the graphics field but other areas such as wireless adapters. We would like to thank Daniel, Oliver, Jerome, David, and Stephane for taking the time to provide some additional commentary and you can share your thoughts on AMD's open-source efforts in the Phoronix Forums.

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Michael Larabel is the principal author of and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 10,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via

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