News ATI drivers

Egbert Eich eich at
Sat Sep 15 07:37:25 PDT 2007

Andrew J. Barr writes:
 > 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.
 > 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.
 > 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.

I did not have the impression that this is a PR blitz.

We at SUSE worked extensively with people from AMD to make those things
happen - all of the AMD people involved had technical background non
were in marketing.
There was a great willingness inside of AMD to make these things happen.
The problems we have encountered had more to do with the right processes
not having been fully implemented at the time.

Such a change in paradigms requires a business justification. For this
either the busniess environment or the business model has to change.
Among the changes that made this change possible was the merger of
ATI and AMD.

For Linux vendors, like us at SUSE, the binary only driver situation was
a huge nightmare as we were not able to ship a proper wroking driver
for rather commonplace hardware.
This is why we have been working together with ATI and AMD for a long
time to investigate what would be required to change this situation.
It was around the middle of April this year (4 1/2 month ago) when
things started to move and we were asked by AMD how an open source
driver could be developed.
Our proposal involved community involvement early on as well as making
available specifications with no strings (read NDA) attached.
Following this we were asked by AMD if we could develop an initial
The first bits of documentation (and as it turned out later the largest
chunk until very recently) were given to us towards the end of July.

All in all I feel that this is providing a great opportunity. For the
first time since I don't know when full hardware speicifications
are provided to the development community. 
While for other hardware there exists an open source driver at most, 
but no specificaions AMD is providing both.
I'd expect a lot of people starting to poke the bits and registers
of their cards in crazy ways and come up with new ideas.
This can initiate the development of a bunch of new features that
are beoyond the scope of what a vendor sponsoring a driver is 
willing to fund.
It will give the free software community the opportunity to learn
what state-of-the-art graphics hardware is capable of.


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