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AMD To Open ATI Specs 426

Several readers tipped us the followup of yesterday's AMD/ATI news, the new development hinted at by Phoronix: AMD has announced they are releasing the specs for all new Radeon chipsets, and will be working with the open source community to develop a fully functional 2D and 3D graphics driver. An anonymous reader opines: "AMD appears to be following in Intel's footsteps with upcoming releases. If AMD is successful NVidia will have real competition in the GNU/Linux gaming arena. While past support by ATI was unsatisfactory the new AMD buyout appears to be having some effect."
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AMD To Open ATI Specs

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  • Lets see, ~2% of the users run linux. What fraction of those are actually gamers?

    Seems like a move more for the high-end workstation market.
    • by BlowHole666 ( 1152399 ) on Thursday September 06, 2007 @10:24AM (#20494155)
      I am a gamer and the only reason I run windows now days is because most of the games use DirectX. Perhaps with driver support from ATI and Nvidia more people will start writing in openGL because they will realize there is a market for gamers on Mac, Linux, and Windows. Just because people use Linux does not mean they do not play video games. Thats why we all have windows boxes so we can play the games (or run wine).
      • Same here. I spent ages trying to get GTA:San Andreas to run on WINE (Vice City was fine, but not San Andreas, grr). Now that I've gone back to playing MUDs I guess technically I could be running Linux (in fact I've been MUDding via telnet on Mac OS, so I guess technically I've been gaming on unix anyway)
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by ajs ( 35943 )
          GTA:SA [sweetleafstudios.com] is reported to work under Cedega when you use nocd to get around their copy-protection (I love "copy-protection" that only serves to support Windows PC gaming monopoly... grr).
          • Thanks dude :) I'm going to have to try WINE/parallels/whatever on Mac OS just for fun, even though I already have a dual boot setup on my MBP..
            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by TheRaven64 ( 641858 )
              WINE on OS X disables Direct3D/OpenGL because of problems with Apple's DRI. Crossover for Mac includes its own X server, so you might have better luck with that.
        • by tepples ( 727027 ) <tepples@gm a i l . c om> on Thursday September 06, 2007 @11:32AM (#20495099) Homepage Journal

          I spent ages trying to get GTA:San Andreas to run on WINE

          To play proprietary video games from major publishers on a Mac running Mac OS X or on a PC running GNU/Linux, try using an external gaming accelerator. This comes in two pieces sold separately: a "TV tuner" that you put in an internal slot, and an external "PlayStation 2" unit that you connect to the TV tuner and your sound card. Then you use xawtv [wikipedia.org] to connect to the gaming accelerator. I did something similar a decade ago, by running a "Nintendo 64" unit through the TV tuner of a Macintosh Performa 6230.

          You can continue to play Free video games using the hardware already in your PC.

          • I prefer to use a mouse. While I did have a mouse to play Quake II on my PSX, it still sucked ;) And even the difference between GTA: Vice City and GTA: San Andreas is marked enough for me to want the latest version. Whereas with things like Microsoft Office or Quake then I'm happy with earlier versions, some applications really do get better with each release..
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Macthorpe ( 960048 )
            Sorry, console games are fun but in my opinion PC games are much better.

            I won't play something like C&C, Civilization or any first-person shooter with a gamepad.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 06, 2007 @10:25AM (#20494169)
      The tide might just be changing. Have you looked at the ubuntu forums how many "normal people" has started using ubuntu after they found out they can actually run WoW in it?

      I say a serious commitment from one of the two large gfx-chipset suppliers is extremely huge and will probably force the other one to do the same in time.
    • by protomala ( 551662 ) on Thursday September 06, 2007 @10:25AM (#20494171) Homepage
      I was going to ask the same thing, what gaming?? More than open-source drivers, we need a good replacement for DirectX.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        We got one. There's a new open G/L spec that could very well compete with direct x.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by wulper ( 788005 )
        "More than open-source drivers, we need a good replacement for DirectX." Unless the game companies start designing games for multiple platforms to begin with, or design for Linux firsthand, having a replacement would give you nothing. Hardly any or none commercial games would be made for it. Unless DirectX gets ported to Linux, and there's a bigger chance that Vista turns public domain than that happening.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by MindKata ( 957167 )
          "Unless the game companies start designing games for multiple platforms to begin with"

          Both the Unreal 3 engine and the Tech 5 engine can/do use OpenGL. In the case of Unreal 3, a lot of games are already based on this engine. In the case of Tech 5, a lot of games will most likely also use this engine, especially as its got a lot of cross platform support.

          A lot of games companies have moved away from rewriting the entire game including a use once 3d engine, every time they want to write a new game. So th
        • by jZnat ( 793348 ) * on Thursday September 06, 2007 @11:46AM (#20495269) Homepage Journal
          Game developers (especially EA) are already targetting multiple platforms: PC, Mac (sometimes), Xbox 360, Wii, PS3, PS2, DS, and PSP to name the main platforms of the present. Only a grand total of two (which combined make up a small percentage of the market) use DirectX APIs while the rest use OpenGL or OpenGL-like APIs. Hell, combine the PS2, Wii, and DS, and you've already covered an enormous amount of the market, and none of them use DirectX at all.

          By the way, PC gaming is practically a niche when it comes to gaming, especially now that Nintendo released the Wii which appeals to many non-gamers as well. Of course, that might be why Linux rarely gets PC game ports due to being a niche of a niche so to say.
      • by Constantine XVI ( 880691 ) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (todhsals+ythgie.hsart)> on Thursday September 06, 2007 @10:47AM (#20494471)
        In other words, someone needs to make a convincing (read: easier than DX) interface to OpenGL+SDL, and put it under a commercial-friendly license, and convince people to use it to build X-platform games. Both OpenGL and SDL are very X-platform (outside of OGL, SDL actually uses DX on Windows, Quartz on Mac, and straight Xlib on *nix)
        • I mean it ... DirectX is pretty slick. Some of the big-name developers who swore it off (including John Carmack) are giving it a second look.

          The nicest thing I've seen recently is Irrlicht, which runs atop either OpenGL or DirectX, with backup software renderers. But again, you still lose a lot from DirectX, like sound and device support, etc. and the ability to port quickly and easily (relatively speaking) to XBOX 360.
        • by lordtoran ( 1063300 ) on Thursday September 06, 2007 @11:54AM (#20495371) Homepage

          In other words, someone needs to make a convincing (read: easier than DX) interface to OpenGL+SDL, and put it under a commercial-friendly license, and convince people to use it to build X-platform games.
          SDL is a compact and less complex than DirectX interface to OpenGL/Direct3D/framebuffer, audio, input devices and event handling. Countless games and top-notch engines are written around it. Plus it is under the (commercial-friendly) LGPL. The people behind all this try very hard to offer an easy yet powerful cross-platform development framework. Yet developers seem to prefer complaining about the cost and complexity of porting games.

          I ask what thousands others have asked: Why not use cross-platform technology in the first place? DirectX is limited to XBox and PCs running Windows. Everything else is OpenGL. Things like SDL handle both just fine.
      • by ajs318 ( 655362 )
        If the game vendors would actually put some sort of an OS on the same media as the game, then surely it wouldn't matter what was installed on your PC -- you could just boot up a game like a live CD? Or am I being too simplistic here?
        • by tepples ( 727027 )

          If the game vendors would actually put some sort of an OS on the same media as the game, then surely it wouldn't matter what was installed on your PC -- you could just boot up a game like a live CD? Or am I being too simplistic here?

          For one thing, unlike Tivoized set-top gaming units, different PCs have different video cards with different hardware interfaces to their 3D accelerator, and the drivers for new interfaces would not be included on the game disc. For another, unless you're willing to plug in a USB memory card formatted in FAT32, you won't be able to save your progress if the operating system does not have a read/write driver for your hard disk drive's file system.

        • by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Thursday September 06, 2007 @11:38AM (#20495189) Journal
          Why the hell would you want to reboot your computer just to play a game? That means your torrents go down, your network shares go down, you can't multitask email/irc with gaming, all the terminals you had open get closed and you lose your place. If you can justify shutting everything down and dedicating your hardware solely to playing games, you should have just bought a console in the first place.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Rip!ey ( 599235 )

      What fraction of those are actually gamers?
      Enough to sell a few more cards. It's all market share. I buy Nvidia cards bcause of their superior Linux driver support. This will tip the balance considerably. And if they work with the OS community in developement, it should bring about a better product at a lower cost.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by AvitarX ( 172628 )
        If they convince people to submit code BSD style, than they can even possibly end up with better windows/BSD/Solaris drivers too.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Ash Vince ( 602485 )
      First point is actually to whatever moron modded this as a Troll. Why?
      Just because he asked a valid question that you do not want to answer does not make it a troll. If you can post something then piss off somewhere else which doesnt have a comments area, it just lets you rate news on how interesting it is to your narrow point of view.

      My second point was to say that I will be very happy if ATI actually follow through with this. I used to buy ATI cards as they are usually slightly cheaper than NVidia's simil
  • Red Hat (Score:4, Informative)

    by netdur ( 816698 ) on Thursday September 06, 2007 @10:21AM (#20494105) Homepage
    Has something to do with this news, read Red Hat and GNOME developer blog post for more information http://www.0xdeadbeef.com/weblog/?p=302 [0xdeadbeef.com]
    • People with ATI / AMD video cards are reporting that they can not use DRM video and HD-DVD or BLUE RAY disk in vista any more. They are also reporting DRM and errors and DX 10 games are not working.

      M$ may try to pull something like that.
      • TBH any system that's designed to shoot its own nads off if you look at it funny was going to sterilise itself sooer rather than later. Blame the people who mandate DRM, not the code monkeys (well not entirely anyway).
    • From the link:

      And it will take a while for all of the documentation to get published as well. (I hear the 2D docs will come first, followed after a period of time by the 3D docs.) So people will have to be patient.

      I wonder why that should be. You'd think a company like AMD would have the specs in electronic format already. Why not release them right away, all together?

      This is exciting news, and stands to change my graphics card buying habits. But I'm going to wait until I see those 3D specs releas

    • by Xenographic ( 557057 ) on Thursday September 06, 2007 @01:38PM (#20496853) Journal
      Does anyone sense a "perfect storm" brewing? OOXML is delayed (but not quite derailed, yet) and many want to standardize on ODF. Vista adoption is crap--moving requires a rewrite of all your business apps, anyhow, and the hardware drivers aren't stable yet, so if you're going to transition to something else, now is the time. Ubuntu is proving itself usable by the computer illiterate. Now we have the potential for good graphics drivers, not to mention major retailers selling Linux machines. Microsoft is bogged down with anti-trust suits everywhere and they're chasing Google's advertising dollars now, because growth is nearly impossible for them to find.

      Don't get me wrong: Microsoft won't just implode suddenly. But it's pretty amazing that their lock-ins are weaker now than they've ever been and that they're only getting weaker, not to mention that they're trying to compete on so many fronts at once while their two profitable divisions, Office & Windows, are suffering.

      Anyone else suspect that we might possibly be seeing the start of the slow decline of Microsoft's empire?
      • by turing_m ( 1030530 ) on Thursday September 06, 2007 @07:33PM (#20501167)
        "Anyone else suspect that we might possibly be seeing the start of the slow decline of Microsoft's empire?"

        Yes. I can almost taste it. From the moment I got Ubuntu installed and working in ways that I didn't expect linux to from my previous experience (detecting stuff, opening any document I cared to throw at it, etc), I've been of the opinion that linux will take over a lot sooner than most people expect, and when it happens, it will eat into M$' market share in a flood. After that, there will be minority holdouts who have legacy apps etc. The jump from 10% or so to 80% I'd expect to take place in 5 years or less.

        The reason I think it will happen that way is that the bigger the user base, the better the software, including apps written specifically for the purposes of migration. Enough users, you get the best games being written in linux, and M$ compatibility for legacy games becomes way more profitable. You get hardware drivers and specs opened immediately, with a working driver for linux/BSD the moment it hits the streets.

        With free software, the switching costs are approaching zero, and the benefits are immense. No malware (for now), no vendor lock-in, no crappy default applications like notepad.exe unless you pay $$$, download any software you want legally, easily, for free, and with a minimum of fear for spyware.

        You also have a much larger army of backyard enthusiasts doing installs on other people's old computers just to hear "Thanks! My computer runs so much better now! You've saved me hundreds of dollars! I can't believe it's free!?!". I mean, that was how the old Doom shareware spread. "Here, check out this free game!", "Wow! That's the coolest thing I've ever seen on a PC!".

        I can remember reading a magazine article around the year 2000 that Bill Gates was hiring someone to manage his investments as he slowly divested himself from Microsoft. Bill Gates is many things, but fool is not one of them. His challenge has been to keep the stock value high enough, long enough, that he doesn't collapse the price.
    • Oh Really? (Score:3, Funny)

      by r_jensen11 ( 598210 )

      To release documentation that anyone can use to build and support drivers for their chips.

      Hacking the Radeon driver: So easy, even a Caveman can do it!

  • by mattgreen ( 701203 ) on Thursday September 06, 2007 @10:22AM (#20494129)
    That GNU/Linux gaming arena is *super* cut-throat, I'm not sure what NVidia is going to do after hearing about this! Those Tux Racer benchmarks are going to totally blow everyone out of the water! And I don't even want to mention how fast Life and KAsteroids...totally ridiculous!
    • by Sneakernets ( 1026296 ) on Thursday September 06, 2007 @10:24AM (#20494159) Journal
      You mean, I might be able to play Chromium?
    • by EveryNickIsTaken ( 1054794 ) on Thursday September 06, 2007 @10:24AM (#20494167)
      But just imagine how awesome nethack will look!
    • by A beautiful mind ( 821714 ) on Thursday September 06, 2007 @10:28AM (#20494213)
      You can joke all you want, but based on my own sample of Linux gaming, it is actually doing quite well.

      For example in the case of Eve Online with a few hundred thousand subscribers, an officially supported Cider (Transgaming) client is in works and under beta testing. That is from an all out Microsoft shop.

      The fact is, companies are reacting to demand. There are a lot of people who would ditch Windows in a heartbeat if only for windows-only games.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by glpierce ( 731733 )
        The fact is, companies are reacting to demand. There are a lot of people who would ditch Windows in a heartbeat if only for windows-only games.

        To be more accurate, companies are interested in whether there are people who would ditch gaming (or at least that company's games) in order to ditch Windows.
      • by jimstapleton ( 999106 ) on Thursday September 06, 2007 @10:52AM (#20494515) Journal
        How about Blizzard explicitly altering their anti-cheating stuff so that Linux users can play WoW? That's probably indicitive of at least a few hundred users.

        Heck, I've played both WoW and EVE in Wine under FreeBSD. Only problem I had with either is that the galaxy map doesn't work properly in some modes in EVE.
        • by Simon80 ( 874052 )
          Do you have a citation for this?
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Chris Burke ( 6130 )
            I don't (or at least am not going to look for one), but I play WoW on Linux using Transgaming's Cedega and since every time a WoW patch comes out there's a good chance something will break, I've been following the forums. There were a number of people who were having problems with the anti-cheating client, and Transgaming told Blizzard about the problem and the resolution was that Blizzard changed their client. This has also gone the other way, with Blizzard helping Transgaming figure out why Cedega wasn'
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Flagg0204 ( 552841 )
        This will probably get modded as flame bait but whatever....

        I am speaking of commercial game titles here. If you are referring to Open Source games then that is a different ball game.

        The linux gaming community is a hack at best, with a few interspersed titles (older titles I might add) having been built to natively play on linux.(Mainly by iD)

        When game studios begin releasing titles capable of playing natively in linux, then we can consider linux gaming doing "quite well" The fact that I have to f**k aroun
    • by SpeedyGonz ( 771424 ) on Thursday September 06, 2007 @10:30AM (#20494247)
      You might have missed these ones:

      Unreal Tournament 2004? Check

      The upcoming UT 3? Check (Even the level editor will run on linux, yay!)

      Doom up to Doom 3? Check

      the Quakes? Check

      • This isn't a troll, but since HL and Counter-Strike came out, those games haven't really been worth playing in my opinion! I used to play a lot of Quake III against bots since I didn't have a decent net connection back then, and I made some mods for it, but then after playing Counter-Strike and coding my own bots for that, I've found vanilla deathmatch rather dull. There's still a market for plain old deathmatch of course, but these days the mainstream thing is class based team combat isn't it?

        Things are
      • by mihalis ( 28146 )
        and don't forget Descent 3 and Rune. I don't know if you can still get them, but I definitely had some fun with those. I loved Rune in particular. I completed it on my Athlon 750MHz/GeForce 256 PC back when that was a pretty fast machine.
    • by MrNemesis ( 587188 ) on Thursday September 06, 2007 @10:31AM (#20494261) Homepage Journal
      I know you're joking, but bear in mind that nVidia has a huge chunk of the Linux workstation/rendering market which is a highly profitable and competitive - better graphics drivers for ATI cards could be a blow to nVidia here and it'll be interestng to see how they react.

      Just cos there's comparitively few games for Linux doesn't mean that decent 3D/OGL isn't important.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      This really could be a "right place, right time" thing for Linux gaming though. There is a circular dependency between gamer use and game availability - WGA and Vista *might* actually make Windows just irritating enough and good ATI drivers might make Linux game performance just attractive enough to break through.

      I can hope, because I really want my current PC to be my last Windows machine and the availability of mainstream games for Linux would make it happen.

    • Laugh all you want, but EVE online [eve-online.com] runs mighty fine in either Wine (or still a bit better) Cedega. And what does one really want in life besides freaking big spaceships with overpowered laser cannons? Maybe just play WOW [worldofwarcraft.com] ?

      And I can't even switch to XP because then the kids will complain that the NFS server is down ;-)

      • by Scutter ( 18425 )
        Laugh all you want, but EVE online runs mighty fine in either Wine (or still a bit better) Cedega.

        Unless you have multiple monitors, and then it's a major chore to get it to run properly.
        • My NVIDIA setup runs two screens without any problems.

          Done this ages ago, the setup was only a few lines. Ok, granted, not as user friendly as doing the same in XP.

          Dumbest thing I ever did however was to get two monitors of different sizes -- it looks cool in double screen mode, but I miss pieces on the second screen.

          I usually play EVE windowed on one screen, and firefox/whatever on the other.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Shinatosh ( 1143969 )
      Yea? What about UT2004, Nexuiz, Sauerbraten, Cube, BZFlag, Quake3, ZDoom, Battle for Wesnoth, Enemy Territory, Quake4, Doom3 as am example of quite good quality linux playable games.

      Buy some here http://www.tuxgames.com/ [tuxgames.com], or search google for open source ones. You were kidding, right? Shina...
      • by richlv ( 778496 )
        ufoai, widelands (though i can't get 11rc to run), openttd, warzone2100 :)

        most of these are remakes of the classics, but that's the great thing - those classics were awesome, but were abandoned or dragged into bad 3d mode. these remakes improve on those ideas and are really good.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by skeeto ( 1138903 )

      Yes, there may not be a great need for 3D acceleration to play games on GNU/Linux, but 3D acceleration comes in handy elsewhere. It will be nice to have it next time I am looking at a surface plot of some scientific data. Or perhaps I want to visualize a model in real-time with OpenGL.

      Here is a more concrete example, let's say I am an aerospace engineer and I am using FlightGear [flightgear.org] to model an airplane I am designing (my aerospace engineer friends actually do this). If I want to see and control this model

    • by jma05 ( 897351 )
      It does not have to be about games. Compiz and Beryl have drawn enough attention. That is not necessarily a trivial market. Geeks buy the latest cards. Geeks do care about these new desktops. I did not care too much about the brand for my last card. My next video card was surely going to be NVidia just for this reason. Now that choice may change.

      BTW, others have pointed that Doom and Unreal series are cross platform. These may be few by themselves. But quite a few games use these engines. If Linux 3D isn't
  • At last (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SpeedyGonz ( 771424 ) on Thursday September 06, 2007 @10:22AM (#20494131)
    I guess this development will have an effect on my fanboyness towards nvidia . . .
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by MrNemesis ( 587188 )
      If, at the end of the day, nVidia up the ante even more, then it's all good for us Linux users.

      I've been crying out for HD XvMC acceleration for my Intel and nVidia cards for at least a year now, be interesting to see if ATI manage to beat them to the punch...
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by LWATCDR ( 28044 )
      IF the drivers are any good then I think it will have a much bigger effect than you might imagine.
      I always bought nVidia based video cards and nVidia based motherboards because I like AMD cpus and I wanted to run Linux as well as Windows.
      Now I can go with AMD/ATI for motherboad, graphics, and CPU.
      Not only that but I will have a selection of graphics solutions from low cost on board up to the high end.

      The big key is that now the PC makers that want to sell Linux system will have totaly open solution from top
  • by howlingmadhowie ( 943150 ) on Thursday September 06, 2007 @10:23AM (#20494151)
    okey-dokey. time to put our money where our mouth has been the whole time. let's get coding :)

    (do i want to know what sort of NDA the specs are going to be under?)
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by pato101 ( 851725 )
      You are Mr. Wolf [imdb.com], aren't you?
    • by WebCowboy ( 196209 ) on Thursday September 06, 2007 @12:59PM (#20496311)
      Work has been underway for quite a long time. R200 specs were released quite awhile ago and R200-based cards are somewhat workable with #D-accelerated desktops. R300 specs until now were not released and a substantial effort was underway to reverse-engineer the platform. The same goes with NVidia--the Nouveau project has been very active in the past year adding Free 3-d acceleration support to their drivers and has collected a lot of data for reverse engineering purposes.

      The money's ALWAYS been where our mouths are, it's just that reverse-engineering these cards is a pretty monumental task (many orders of magnitude more work involved than what was involved in reverse-engineering the entire IBM PC platform in the 1980s). For reasons completely unrelated to technical issues or even market demand, we end up having to settle for using previous-generation hardware on Linux systems because of the time it takes to wade through "trade secrets".

      This news from ATI is great news for the entire community. Perhaps with NVidia being the last holdout of the big graphics hardware players they'll finally succumb to "peer pressure" and drop their unreasonable stance regarding the release of specs. I've seen the remarkable progress made by the Nouveau team despite NVidia's stonewalling. With ATI actually showing signs of cooperation I think Free ATI driver development will advance extremely quickly. Furthermore, this may have implications beyond the Linux community--in everything from embedded uses to the Windows community. If the interface spec for ATI hardware is public it means that the quality of open AND closed drivers for all platforms has the opportunity to improve, as those outside ATI will be able to give more constructive input on found bugs.

      Hopefully this is an early sign of an overall trend towards opening hardware. I've been worrying lately that as open software gains traction that big companies will try to cling to their old business models by making hardware more closed.
  • Good for them (Score:2, Interesting)

    by salimma ( 115327 )
    They are going one step further than nVidia (good binary drivers, documentation lacking). This looks like it is aimed more at redressing AMD/ATi's current shortcomings vis-a-vis Intel: with a 3D-accelerated open-source graphics driver, the only thing missing from an AMD-on-laptop equation is reliably-open Wi-Fi.

    And no, Atheros does not count. I refer to the pre-n fiasco, which took months before the only open-soure developer with NDA access was able to come up with specifications. Perhaps AMD should come up
    • I agree, it's more about Intel than Nvidia.

      You know what else? I think this may be the first step in getting the developerment community onboard for a CPU/GPGPU hybrid processor I reckon they'll produce in a couple of years.
    • This is a good point. I have been a long time AMD user and, with the exception of my various Macs (Intel and PPC), have used AMD exclusively. While the Intel onboard 3D isn't exactly eye popping, it runs WoW reasonably on my MacBook and it has open drivers. The latter alone was enough to make me consider switching to Intel for my next Linux box. On the gaming side, I'm also a long time nVidia user (since the original TNT cards were released), but if this pans out, I'll stick with AMD and ditch nVidia.

  • by bo0ork ( 698470 ) on Thursday September 06, 2007 @10:31AM (#20494249)
    Could this be becuase ATI might be falling behind nVIDIA technologically, rather than the AMD purchase of ATI? They might feel they don't have so much IP to protect any more. Just guessing.
    • by Aladrin ( 926209 ) on Thursday September 06, 2007 @10:54AM (#20494543)
      While I think that's a good guess, I don't see any actual statistics to back it up.

      I think instead that they are seeing a huge outcry at Vista's problems, a large swelling of (K|X|Ed)Ubuntu followers, Dell -and- HP selling Linux-based machines, and general non-MS market/mind-share changes.

      ATI knows that nVidia can't legally copy anything from their specs, and their current drivers for all platforms are a joke.

      It costs nothing for a home user to switch to (K|X|Ed)Ubuntu and if the user can know their graphics card will actually work BETTER that way, they might actually switch permanently. If the other graphics cards don't work on that system after the user has switched, they'll buy ATI from then out.

      Yes, some of those are big IFs... But there's a lot more where that came from, and this move just costs them some engineer/programmer time to write the documentation up, which they should have anyway! What have they got to lose?
  • by scharkalvin ( 72228 ) on Thursday September 06, 2007 @10:35AM (#20494291) Homepage
    I hope they release info on the video capture and TV out features of all of the ATI chipsets. It would be great to be able to support all of the features in the "all in one" chipsets. Especially the new HDTV tuner / capture cards.
  • Can't wait! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Orange Crush ( 934731 ) on Thursday September 06, 2007 @10:37AM (#20494329)
    If quality Linux drivers actually materialize and they have a fully open spec, I'll jump ship from nVidia in a heartbeat. An open spec will help a lot with gpgpu projects. I'd love to be able to take full advantage of my otherwise idle GPU while say . . . transcoding video . . .
  • by 4D6963 ( 933028 ) on Thursday September 06, 2007 @10:39AM (#20494353)

    I think these news might have different implications than we might suspect. While we may think "that's cool, although so few gamers are running Linux", I think this move might have other repercussions than just help the Linux PC game market.

    In this day and age, we've got Open Source Anything, handheld consoles, cell phones, toasters, anything. Now if we imagine that some people somewhere decide to make a gaming console to rivalize with the Xbox 360 and the Wii, an Open Source Console, running Linux, or even some Open Source AppleTV-like box, which GPU will the makers choose? Obviously the most FOSS/Unix friendly, and that would be AMD/ATI.

    They might be feeling that a large market might open up soon, and that's why I think they chose to do this move, while they can easily become the first ones there.

    • As an FYI, both the 360 and Wii have ATI-developed graphics.
    • I think this move might have other repercussions than just help the Linux PC game market.

      Simulation and Visualization are both huge. Projects like OpenSceneGraph [openscenegraph.org], etc. Lots of people are using Linux to do graphically intense development work - I used to, back when I worked for the Army. nVidia seemed to be the preferred video card by a long shot because it was so well supported. They are probably trying to crack that market.

      nVidia also had the advantage of using a unified codebase - 90% of the driver c
      • nVidia also had the advantage of using a unified codebase - 90% of the driver code is identical between Linux and Windows. That's something AMD hasn't been doing (at least back when I kept up on things, they may have changed in the past few years).

        This is no longer true, as I understand it.

        nVidia now has several codebases:

        1. Windows 2000/XP/Linux/Vista OpenGL 32-bit
        2. Windows 2000/XP/Linux/Vista OpenGL 64-bit
        3. Windows 2000/XP/Vista DX 9 32-bit
        4. Windows 2000/XP/Vista DX 9 64-bit
        5. Windows Vista DX 10 32-bi
  • I know everybody asked for this, and they're finally giving in but.

    More important than open graphic drivers is open disk controller drivers, open USB controller drivers, etc, etc, etc

    Still, a great step.

    And even though I would be one of the first to say "talk is cheap, show me the specs", someone further behind the curtains told me some companies knew (and possibly working with) it already.
  • oh yes! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by phrostie ( 121428 ) on Thursday September 06, 2007 @10:48AM (#20494477)
    very sweet!

    i know it won't happen over night, but it will still be nice to apt-get my ATI updates.
  • by downix ( 84795 ) on Thursday September 06, 2007 @10:55AM (#20494555) Homepage
    I read this, then the comments, and realized that a lot of people see vid cards as just gaming accessories. This couldn't be further from the truth. Look at industrial graphics and video workstations! nVidia is dominating there, and AMD is hungry for a piece of that pie. Open up docs, get the geek that the office keeps in the closet to get excited, he sends the list of the part upgrade to the boss for the graphics workstations, bada-boom AMD market share of ATI video cards grow.

    The help for gaming is just incidental, AMD is keeping its eyes on the real prize, the industrial market.
  • To develop??? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SolitaryMan ( 538416 ) on Thursday September 06, 2007 @10:58AM (#20494589) Homepage Journal


    To develop of a fully functional 2D and 3D driver that supports all of their newer radeon chipsets.

    Does this mean they don't have them yet?..

    • Re:To develop??? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Rycross ( 836649 ) on Thursday September 06, 2007 @11:16AM (#20494857)
      Chances are the source code to their existing drivers have a lot of 3rd party licensed libraries, and may be covered by NDA. They'd probably have to pull a move like what Sun did with Java: release whats not covered, and let the open source developers fill in the missing (encumbered) pieces with a clean-room implementation.

      So in short, no, they probably don't have driver code that they can just give out.
  • This reminds me a bit of the OS/2 days when I would hunt around for hardware whose vendors provided good OS/2 drivers. I think that maybe AMD's decision has more to do with more big company support and demand for Linux, like Dell and Google, and perhaps a good number of those hardware hunting geeks of old are now the decision makers for major purchases. In any case, they don't want to lock themselves out of potential sales from big customers. It would be nice if this really was something to do with wanting
  • by Manic Miner ( 81246 ) on Thursday September 06, 2007 @11:12AM (#20494783) Homepage
    You can currently only use ATI and NVidia drivers on windows to off-load decoding of h264 video, this makes playback under linux of HD DVB streams almost impossible (you get frames dropped even with top of the line CPU's).

    Hopefully this will mean we can get XVmC support for ATI cards to do h264 decoding, this would be awsome, and a big boost to the media centre community. I look forward to seeing the developments, maybe soon I can put an ATI card in my Freevo Media Centre and actually be able to view HD content - woot!
  • ...for Linux, they're getting my money soon.

        nVidia's hardware is great and they have very high quality linux drivers, but when you hit a problem with them you're in for a fun ride. I had it happening on me once or twice in the past. ATI's driver for Linux (hell, even for Windows) were always a joke.
  • ..... I think I know what make my next graphics card might be.

    (Although, to be perfectly honest, I've never actually had any trouble using nVidious graphics cards with the free nv driver. Yeah, I know, no 3d support; but as I've only got a 2D monitor, it hardly matters.)
  • I have voiced several rants about ATI here on slashdot. Do you suppose they are reading them?
  • by ArwynH ( 883499 ) on Thursday September 06, 2007 @11:33AM (#20495117)
    "Hello? Is this the Daily Gazette? I'd like to report a story!"
    "There were five of them! Pink! Well, one was kinda yellow. I think it was a pot-bellied one."
    "What? No! Pigs! Outside my window!"
    "Maybe in a farm it ain't, but I live on the 10th floor in the City."
    "Yes, that's right! Flying pigs!"
    "The wings? White."
    "Yes, like an angels I guess."
    "What? No, I haven't been drinking..."
    "..or taking drugs."
    "Look I'm not kidding! There were 5 flying pigs outside my window Oinking at me!"
    "Hello? Hello? ... A**hole!"
  • by crush ( 19364 ) on Thursday September 06, 2007 @11:34AM (#20495129)
    Hmmm. This is awesome news. The last 40 or so systems we purchased were all Intel based purely because of the fact that they were so much less trouble due to being supported with Free drivers. This changes the equation though. It sounds from the announcement that we'll be getting better quality drivers because AMD/ATI will be releasing the full specs and not merely documenting through the use of code (which is cool and still makes Intel supportable).

    Some things I still wonder about are whether or not the comparably priced AMD/ATI systems will have good Free drivers for other integral components such as wireless (which Intel have also got a lead with due to their IPW3945ABG). Intel have also got some very important work underway with PowerTOP [linuxpowertop.org]. The upcoming Fedora 8 will be benefiting from the results of extensive testing with PowerTOP (which is written by ex-Red Hatter, now Intel employee, Arjan van de Ven). This allows monitoring of the major drains of power in laptops and can also be a major factor in server rooms.

    I'm delighted by this whole move and it means that I can now make recommendations which include ATI cards as part of the specifications to purchasing. In terms of whether the AMD/ATI platform as whole will be a competitor that depends on whether the AMD motherboard chipsets will also be as open, Free and supportable. Intel have an incredible headstart [intel.com] in this area and possibly this will prevent them from moving into the stand-alone 3D card market (which is what I thought was going to inevitably happen). It looked as though AMD/ATI were headed for extinction, but I guess the reality of sales started to catch up with them.

    All in all good news that opens up some more options for us. Perhaps we'll be seeing some interesting Dell machines soon!
  • Back in the day, DirectX drivers were the only way to get good 3D performance in Windows games. OpenGL existed back then and exists today, but from what I remember, OpenGL was somehow expensive to implement and/or difficult to write code for... it was a long time ago... back when Quake was new. (OpenGL cards were *very* expensive in those days too...)

    So now all Windows games are DirectX and are at the mercy of Microsoft's supporting of selected hardware. But with more open-sourcing of ATI drivers (and th
  • by Skapare ( 16644 ) on Thursday September 06, 2007 @11:38AM (#20495181) Homepage

    I have a different interest in this. With documentation, even SVGATextMode [freshmeat.net] can be enhanced to run at higher geometries, and adjust modelines to better fit various displays ... on the new ATI hardware. But someone will have to hack it, given the many years that SVGATextMode has been stagnant, and that may end up being me.

  • by Random BedHead Ed ( 602081 ) on Thursday September 06, 2007 @12:02PM (#20495493) Homepage Journal

    Wow, a hardware producer is opening up the specs of their graphics chips. There's a longtime gripe solved. Tomorrow on Slashdot ...

    ... same thing, but for NVidia.
    ... same thing, but for all wireless chipsets.
    ... the RIAA will give up on lawsuits and DRM, realizing that both are ultimately ineffective and bad for their business, and promote a prepaid, peer-to-peer approach to music distribution. They will also rename themselves the Recording Industry Cartel of America.
    ... President Bush will sign the Software Patent Invalidation Act, which will have cruised through the House, Senate, and Ways and Means Committee overnight, effectively ending patent protection for software ideas. A small town in Texas will immediately go bankrupt.
    ... Having signed the act and finding nothing else important to do, the president will resign.
    ... Microsoft will cave in and adopt ODF for Word. Features in OOXML that they want to keep will be carefully documented and formally submitted for inclusion in the ODF 2.0 standard.

  • Power management (Score:5, Insightful)

    by evilviper ( 135110 ) on Thursday September 06, 2007 @02:54PM (#20497835) Journal
    Screw 3D and gamers... I just glad ACPI developers will finally have the docs they need to get ATI video cards to come out of S3/Suspend successfully.

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