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Programming Hardware IT Technology

AMD Releases 3D Programming Documentation 94

Michael Larabel writes "With the Free Open Source Developers' European Meeting (FOSDEM) starting today, where John Bridgman of AMD will be addressing the X.Org developers, AMD has this morning released their 3D programming documentation. This information covers not only the recent R500 series, but goes back in detail to the R300/400 series. This is another one of AMD's open source documentation offerings, which they had started doing at the X Developer Summit 2007 with releasing 900 pages of basic documentation. Phoronix has a detailed analysis of what is being offered with today's information as well as information on sample code being released soon. This information will allow open source 3D/OpenGL work to get underway with ATI's newer graphics cards."
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AMD Releases 3D Programming Documentation

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  • Way to go AMD (Score:5, Insightful)

    by schwaang ( 667808 ) on Saturday February 23, 2008 @08:49PM (#22530866)
    For ages, the FOSS community has said "just give us the specs for your graphics cards and we'll write the drivers". Well it looks like AMD is taking real steps in that direction, and I for one, say Thanks!

    According to TFA, the small group at AMD who has spent time clearing the docs for legal issues are going to speak at FOSDEM [], and the maintainer for the open source driver for AMD/ATI graphics (RadeonHD) will be giving an update.

    And thanks also to Intel for putting out their 3D graphics specs last month. These are good days for Linux.
  • by pyite69 ( 463042 ) on Saturday February 23, 2008 @09:07PM (#22530990)
    Feature parity with Windows must be the goal if they want to beat NVidia. I hope we can get some sort of media acceleration beyond the stale old XVideo & XV-MC.

  • Not lame at all. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Timothy Brownawell ( 627747 ) <> on Saturday February 23, 2008 @09:27PM (#22531146) Homepage Journal
    It's actually quite nice when they tell us how to write our own drivers, so we're not dependent on them for needed maintenance (bug fixes, updates for newer kernels, etc). Companies can have all sorts of reasons to stop supporting a product, or to provide sub-par support, and being able to write our own drivers means that that isn't a problem.
  • Re:Yeeha!!!! (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 23, 2008 @10:16PM (#22531470)
    Not to pick a nit, but not being "good enough" isn't the reason the kernel devs have decided not to commit to a stable binary API. It's so that they have total flexibility to use the latest greatest code.

    The upside of the Linux way is rapid development, with a constant stream of new features.
    The downside is that since every kernel update might break binary compatibility for a previously compiled driver, third-party drivers must be recompiled for every update.

    It's definitely a trade-off, one that isn't done by more commercially oriented OSes like Solaris or Windows which do commit to binary stability within major versions. Vendors love that because they can compile just one driver for XP and be done with it.

    OTOH, the Linux kernel's policy *does* put pressure on third-party drivers to go open-source, like what is *finally* happening for graphics cards after all these years. So three cheers!
  • Re:Way to go AMD (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 644bd346996 ( 1012333 ) on Saturday February 23, 2008 @10:50PM (#22531684)
    Depends on what you mean by better. There's no doubt that the open source drivers will be more stable and have better software compatibility than the proprietary stuff. The 3d performance will really only matter to the Linux gamers (a very small market, that), as the performance should definitely be more than enough for simpler things like compiz, etc.

    You should take a look at the existing 3d drivers. The folks reverse-engineering the r300 series did a pretty good job (well enough for it to be the development platform for xgl). And the open-source drivers also guarantee that the card will continue to work just as well with software written long after the demise of the company (eg. with the 3dfx drivers).
  • Re:Way to go AMD (Score:5, Insightful)

    by forkazoo ( 138186 ) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {snarcesorw}> on Sunday February 24, 2008 @12:43AM (#22532342) Homepage

    Gamers are not the only ones who like 3D acceleration.

    Quickly and off the top of my head, here are two big ones:
    1. Compiz/Fusion and the like is gaining popularity.
    2. Some applications NEED good 3D or they crawl. See Blender for instance.

    Of these, I would say gaming would be the least demanding - at least if my assumption that "stable is harder than fast" is correct.

    Sure, Blender needs good OpenGL acceleration. But, nobody is going to be that concerned about getting an extra 1 fps in Blender. If proprietary drivers go twice as fast, or ten times as fast, then the open source devs would look like idiots. If the open source ones are ten percent slower, then 99% of people will be completely satisfied. Games are flashy, and they sell cards, and people will complain about getting killed by somebody with a faster machine because it couldn't possibly have anything to do with lack of skill. In Blender, you just need sufficient speed to work. If the guy next to you has an extra 2 fps, it doesn't make him appreciably more productive, and you certainly can't justify needing to display faster than the refresh rate of the monitor in Blender!
  • What's left? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sudog ( 101964 ) on Sunday February 24, 2008 @01:19AM (#22532552) Homepage
    So what's left before the complete documentation sets are in our hands?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 24, 2008 @07:04AM (#22533854)
    I used to buy/recommend mostly AMD CPUs and Nvidia graphics cards till now.

    I guess it's time to make it AMD / ATI now.

    If they have released what we needed to get the drivers made, which is what we have always wanted, it's time we reciprocated by supporting them.

    This will show other graphics companies *hint hint* that releasing the specs = good business.

In seeking the unattainable, simplicity only gets in the way. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982