Forget F/OSS drivers or specs
Posted Jul 25, 2006 17:03 UTC (Tue) by jmorris42
Parent article: What AMD's ATI acquisition means for Linux (and Macs) (Linux-Watch)
We won't be seeing any change on the 3D front. Because while we still don't know WHY both ATI & NVIDIA are so insistent on keeping all their stuff secret it is doubtful that AMD being the ultimate owner of ATI's tech will change it.
Almost every hardware component in a modern desktop PC has good Free drivers but no video vendor (excepting Intel) wants to release 3D specs. Seen lots of theories float, no idea which might be true.
Theory 1: Specs were hard to come by in the past, but ATI did help X in the past as did Nvidia at one point. But no company has released squat since the DirectX 9 level. So of course if one is a Microsoft conspiracy theorist the idea that MSFT imposed some sort of non-disclosure in the licensing to get on the DX9 bandwagon is a good one. But a non-disclosure so all encompasing that nobody can even admit it exists? Knowing that exposing it would almost certainly set off another round of DOJ action nobody has leaked anything?
Theory 2: All and sundry know they are violating the hell out of various patents and fear releasing specs or source would make that plain, releasing the dread legions of patent lawyers. This one has the advantage of partially explaining why Intel doesn't care as much, having cross licenses with darned near everyone and being big enough to unleash a bit of patent wrath of their own back on anyone foolish enough to tackle them. But they can somehow keep their violations secret just by keeping the Linux folk from seeing how it works? Nobody is capable of reverse engineering or corporate spying?
Theory 3: The 3D hardware isn't really all that interesting, just a lot of brute force that any Chinese fab could replicate in short order if there were free drivers available. Considering the continual problems with drivers ATI & Nvidia have this one is my fav. If most of the value proposition is in the software layer, allowing the Free Software community to create a generic 3D engine would be a death sentence.
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