On a different front...
Posted Apr 19, 2007 15:37 UTC (Thu) by Duncan
In reply to: On a different front...
Parent article: Two examples of abandoned hardware
If you are looking at the old Matrox stuff, I'm assuming you are AGP, in
which case you can get old ATI Radeon 9200-ish stuff, the last chip they
opened the specs for (the Radeon 2, thru the r200, rv280/m9+). I'm
running the 9200 (rv280) in dual monitor mode with the native xorg radeon
driver and the related kernel dri stuff and am relatively happy with it.
The biggest problem is that I'm running dual 1600x1200 monitors stacked
for 1600x2400 resolution, and the driver only supports 3D/OpenGL accel up
to 2048x2048, so a stripe 352 px high at the bottom of my bottom monitor
is OpenGL unaccelerated. That cuts out some of the fancy newer 3D
accelerated window manager stuff,, and because the bottom monitor is
my "working" monitor as well, cuts out full-screen OpenGL on what would be
the natural monitor to run it on.
There's now beta status reverse engineered 3D/OpenGL support for the ATI
Radeon 3, r300 series chips, Radeon 9500 (r300) thru 9800xt (r360) and
Radeon 4, r400 series chips, thru the Radeon x850. The x300-x850 are
available in PCI-E, so there's /some/ choice beyond Intel on semi-modern
hardware. However, in addition to being beta status, these were reverse
engineered without the cooperation of ATI (unlike Intel, which is funding
xorg developers AND open drivers), so while they may work and will work
better as their status matures, buying them IS funding hardware
uncooperativeness. Still, it's the only real choice for open drivers with
a separate PCI-E card, and on AMD, at the moment. For those who already
have their mobo/CPU and are just looking at graphics upgrades, it's about
the only option beyond the Radeon 9200 series, which WAS open-speced by
Here's an xorg r300/r400 portal link.
Of particular interest there is the external link (also below), a status
page listing among other things, workable resolutions playing various
games on an x800xt. and the status of various feature demos/programs.
However, for new mobo/CPU/GPU units, it's definitely Intel at this point,
particularly since they are not only releasing specs, not only sponsoring
hardware drivers, but ALSO sponsoring general xorg development, including
As for ATI and the future, now that AMD owns them, we'll see. Given AMD's
announced plans for combined multi-core chips with both CPU and GPU cores,
and the developing interested (AMD/ATI and elsewhere) in harnessing
what /has/ been the GPU as a non-graphical if still somewhat specialized
parallel instruction accelerator, it would seem difficult to continue down
the proprietary route to the degree that both ATI and NVidia had been
going. Certainly, opening up to some extent will be needed to efficiently
implement compilers to those sets of instructions. As a CPU company, AMD
is used to publicly specing out their hardware to a rather large extent,
and beyond that, it can't have missed them that a lot of the early support
for AMD64 was from open source, Linux and otherwise, well before MS had
anything at all public to share. Given that the force of that market was
enough to catapult AMD into a market leading position that even Intel had
to acknowledge, with their em64t, AMD should appreciate the potential loss
of that market to Intel better than anyone, and I can't believe they'll
sit idly by and let it happen.
So I doubt Intel will remain the only viable new-hardware platform choice
forever, but they certainly seem to be so at this point. Luckily for me,
I'm not likely to be in the hardware platform market again for another
three years or so (I've a dual Opteron 242 with 8 gigs memory that I
intend to upgrade to 290s this year, then use for ~3 years before further
core upgrades), as I like a bit more choice than that. Hopefully, I'll
have it by then.
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