On the horizon: an open graphics card (NewsForge)
Posted Jul 21, 2006 20:13 UTC (Fri) by drag
In reply to: On the horizon: an open graphics card (NewsForge)
Parent article: On the horizon: an open graphics card (NewsForge)
As far as I know there isn't anything like it.
If the FPGA board goes to completion then it ends up being a reprogrammable video card.
Basicly from a hardware hacker or student or hobbyist's perspective your ending up with a fully documented ready-made PCI card with a 128 megs of memory and a rather large fpga chip that they can play around with for all sorts of purposes.
Video encoder/decoder for instance. There is already a documented open source design for a theora encoding FPGA chip out there.. It was developed to move a HD-quality stream of data down a ethernet pipe from a electronic camera to a recording station. The chip it was designed for was much much smaller then this one.
Something like that may be usefull for people who would like to have a HD-quality real-time video editing and compisition workstation without having to have the renderfarm to back it up. (If it's at all possible, which I think it could be)
Or maybe something like a custom CPU? There are the Sun's Sparc chips which are open spec. Then there is the Opencore project. http://www.opencores.org/ How would you like to have a hand at designing your own cpu?
Or how about using Linux DM/MD (or maybe ZFS?) in conjunction with that to create a device that will create offload the proccessing power needed to stick a large RAID 10 array that is not only fast, but compressed and maybe encrypted?
I suppose the PCI bus will be a big limitation on what you can do, but maybe they will have a PCIE version.
Or a crypto engine for cracking code.. or a crypto engine for encrypting and compressing gigabit ethernet connection?
Or instead of OpenGL rendering acceleration.. maybe a vector based rendering acceleration? Something like that.
Or maybe your a hardware designer that needs something reasonable device for building some special purpose embedded computer componate. If it's something very custom, maybe only a few hundred units or less, then having a relatively cheap ready-made PCI device could come in handy.
My point is that a device of this nature is fairly unique. Of course I am no hardware hacker, so I am just going off what I've heard from other people. Could possibly be a untapped market.
I don't think that it would ever work like open source software works.. The price of entry is too high and you need to have special programming tools and the tools and languages are all pretty propriatory in themselves. (although the company they are getting the FPGA from supports linux for that stuff) But it may be usefull thing for lots more then just people looking for a video card with open source drivers.
Eventually if this works out then they'd release a ASIC version of the video card that would be targetted at embedded hardware developers and Free software folks. It would be faster, have lower power usage, and be much more inexpensive. Something that is open and fairly powerfull may be attractive for embedded developers and should be good enough to drive all that XGL eye candy and simplier video games.
It would be the only video card that would be open enough not to just work with full capabilities under Linux, but also FreeBSD, OpenBSD, Dragonfly BSD, Solaris, ReactOS, those BeOS clones and other smaller and oddball operating systems. I wouldn't be suprised that if you have a OS that can run GNU tools and the MESA opengl stack that you'd be able to get it working without much troubles.
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