NVIDIA giving up their driver tech will literally level the playing field. [...]
Would it really? Drivers are by definition hardware-dependent. ATI hardware would be sufficiently different from NVIDIA hardware that little of the NVIDIA driver code would be useful there, and porting attempts could probably produce buggy and inefficient code.
One thing I find interesting is this situation sets up almost a controlled test of open source vs proprietary development: Assuming ATI and Intel have provided full hardware info (and continue to do so for new hardware in the future), the supposed superiority of the open process should eventually produce superior Linux drivers for them.
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