The Open Graphics Project is working to produce an open-hardware
PCI graphics card with open-source drivers. The
for OGP is a good source for information on the project.
The OGP project vision is detailed in the
There is a market for graphics hardware with good support for free software and free operating systems (there may or may not be a market for open graphics hardware also, but that is beyond the scope of this project). Such a graphics card would benefit from lower software development cost and mindshare in order to be commercially viable. Free software could benefit from the active cooperation of the manufacturer of such a card to create better drivers and to get a card that better meets the requirements of free software.
Currently, the market for such cards is not served very well. NVIDIA has no offering in this market, ATI's older cards have very limited support, while their new ones have none, and Matrox has no offering in this market either. XGI are off to a good start but still no 3D code yet.
In order to get manufacturers to make such hardware, we have to show that it will be economically viable to do so.
OGP is working with the company
to develop the hardware side of the project, known as the OGD1.
announced that it is now taking
for the OGD1 board. The card will initially cost $1500, there will
be a $100 discount for the first 100 orders.
Larger quantity orders will receive a significant discount.
The initial price may seem rather high for a video card when similar
mass-produced products can be had for several hundred dollars.
This can partly be justified by the fact that the OGD1 is more of
a development platform than a commodity video card.
The OGD1 is also useful for embedded and stand-alone video products,
where commodity parts are not available and custom designs are expensive.
Additionally, part of the money raised by selling OGD1 cards will be
used to raise funds for OGP.
The OGD1 FAQ
addresses the price issue:
"OGD1 is actually very competitively priced compared to FPGA kits with similar capabilities and capacity. For very small FPGA projects, OGD1 may be over-kill. But for larger projects, OGD1 is a must and a bargain."
OGD1 rev B hardware specs explain the board's features and show
a photo of the board.
The basic capabilities include a maximum resolution of 2560x1600 pixels,
256MB of 200Mhz video memory, DVI, RGB, S-Video and composite video
outputs, a PCI/PCI-X interface and user-specified I/O.
A number of commercial video card manufacturers have been
warming up to the concept of open-source drivers.
For several years, Intel's policy has been to provide free drivers for
all of their video products.
ATI has released documentation for their Graphical Processing Unit (GPU)
and AMD is also supporting open-source drivers.
2007 kernel summit
"Starting with the R500 chipset and going forward, AMD will fully support free drivers for all of its graphics processors. This support will not take the form of a release of the current proprietary ATI driver; that code is not considered to be something that anybody would really want to look at. So there will be a clean start. AMD will release specifications and a skeleton driver with the plan to have 2D support working by the end of the year. The company is clearly hoping that the community will do much of the work on the driver, but it also plans to participate actively in the process."
While the OGD1 is somewhat in competition with commercial video card
manufacturers, the developers are encouraging the release of more
open-source drivers and specification information. According to the
"We applaud ATI for doing the right thing and making available their GPU documentation for use by Free Software developers. There are certain market segments where ATI's offering may affect us, but there are other market segments (e.g. embedded systems, single-board computers, servers, special-purpose, etc.) where our growth potential is entirely unaffected. Moreover, they in no way impact our broader goals of enabling hardware hacking and bringing open hardware to the people."
If you are a developer who is wanting to get involved in the development
of video card firmware, or you need a well-supported video architecture
for an embedded project, the OGD1 could prove to be an effective
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