News ATI drivers

Hal V. Engel hvengel at
Wed Sep 12 17:14:24 PDT 2007

On Wednesday 12 September 2007 15:38:18 Andrew J. Barr wrote:
> On 9/12/07, Paulo Cesar Pereira de Andrade <pcpa at> wrote:
> > Daniel Stone wrote:
> > >
> > >
> > > HTH,
> > > Daniel
> >
> >   Good news. I used to be more friendly to ATI up to one year ago, when
> > I switched to NVidia. Most likely my next video card will be again an
> > ATI Card.
> >   Hopefully this will also mark the start of some standardization so
> > that a driver that works perfectly with one card doesn't fail miserably
> > with another due to some "minor" spec changes.
> >   I am tempted to start writing some GPL code based on this :-)
> Be careful, this is exactly what AMD is hoping in terms of short-term
> gain from what has been until recently, a PR blitz. Someone mentioned
> earlier in the thread that docs published at contain no
> information on the accelerator.

If this were the old pre-merger ATI I would be inclined to agree that this was 
likely a PR blitz designed to create a short term sales gain.   But this is 
not the pre-merger ATI we are dealing with and I don't think AMD is that 
short sighted.   

AMD has publicly stated that the first round of documents would not contain 
information about the accelerator and that the accelerator information would 
be available shortly (IE over the next few months).  In addition, the current 
docs were released with no NDA required and these are available to the 
public.   The old ATI refused to even make this documentation available to 
X.Org developers who were willing to sign NDAs.   So there has clearly been a 
huge change in their policies regarding this information. 

Based on all of the reports we have seen so far from people on our side of the 
fence they have done everything that they have said they would.   In fact, 
the initial reports indicated that the docs would be covered by an NDA so 
things are even better than I was expecting a few days ago.  

Even though I agree that right now is a wait and see period and I would not 
buy any ATI graphics hardware right now I am inclined to give AMD a chance to 
work through the process of releasing the information and supporting X.Org 
developers as this goes forward.  All of the indications at this point are 
very positive and AMD is doing exactly what, if not more than, they said they 
would and also is doing exactly what we said we wanted them to do.  In 
another two or three months we will know for sure if they are really 
committed to this.  Even though I am taking a wait and see attitude right now 
I see no reason to think that AMD will act like ATI did in the past.  AMD has 
a tradition of openness with the OSS community and from where I sit I would 
expect them to extend that to new parts of their business such as ATI since 
it has worked well for them, AMD, in the past. 

> AMD is trying to work people into a froth, getting excited about open
> source drivers, with no public docs with no public source code, and
> hopefully getting them to buy some Radeon cards on a promise. Let's
> see how serious they are about this before we reward them for using
> promises of open source as a marketing tactic.

Although I agree that AMD likely sees this as good PR I also do not think that 
short term PR and marketing are the main drivers for this effort.  Implying 
that AMD will not follow through and is not being honest with their 
intentions is not, in IMO, an accurate reflection of the current situation 
and the facts as we know them at this time.  For instance you say "..with no 
public docs.." which is clearly not true since over 900 pages of docs were 
publicly released today.  Also those docs are for the M53 and R630 cores.  So 
this is documentation for very recent hardware.  I should add that it appears 
that these docs have already been used to fix/update the Avivo drivers (there 
was a git update today).  In addition, they have said that the first release 
of the driver code will happen this week.   Again if that happens then they 
are living up to their promises and it is another indication that they will 
be following through.  

> I hope they are serious, but I've seen promises like this turn out to
> be a case of high expectations from a community manipulated by PR men.
> > Paulo

If we are being "..manipulated by PR men.." then they are indeed very clever 
but the current fact set does not support this notion.  After all how could, 
even very clever, PR men have written 900 pages of fake technical 
documentation in a few weeks and fooled experienced X.Org developers into 
believing it was real?   Long term if they live up to the commitments they 
have made this will be a huge PR win for them otherwise they will have a huge 
PR failure.  If I were one of AMDs "PR men" I would not want anything to do 
with this if it were not a genuine good faith effort.

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