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Thread: NVIDIA Denies Opening Up Its Driver

  1. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by duby229 View Post
    I would like to try and steer clear of subjective ideologies, and instead stick with facts. Fact 1: The only limitations to the open drivers are the ones that ATi artificially imposes. Fact 2: It is only the artificially imposed limitations that would prevent workstation users from adopting open drivers.
    Wasn't this an article about the other guys ? How did ATI get involved ?

    Quote Originally Posted by duby229 View Post
    Seems pretty cut and dry to me. If properly and completely supported, an open driver can and will be better then any closed driver could possibly be. Ever.
    Open drivers can be better if the same development resources (or more) are poured into them. That's where it gets complicated.

    Workstation customers make purchasing decisions based on proprietary software features and performance, which HW vendors spend a ton of money developing and don't want to give away to their competitors. The existence of open source drivers is not the issue, it's the implicit "and then we'll ban closed source drivers" that would be a problem for workstation customers.

    Workstation seems to be an exception to the typical user base, since the "Linux workstation market" is really the old "Unix workstation market", which didn't have a problem with closed source drivers.

    Quote Originally Posted by duby229 View Post
    How would a stable and functional open driver, drive workstation users away? Seriously, I'd like to try and understand the logic behind this reasoning.
    This is easy. Linux workstation customers expect feature and performance parity with Windows, which means either the same development cost for 1/10th the market size or sharing code between the OSes. Practically speaking, that means the Linux workstation drivers are going to share a lot of code with drivers from other OSes, which in turn means that "opening up the drivers" puts your competitive edge at risk in all OSes not just Linux.

    We adopted a two driver strategy because we felt that workstation absolutely needed a closed source solution (because of the market pull for parity with Windows and the competitive challenges that brings) while most other Linux users could be satisfied with an open source stack that had all the important functionality but not the proprietary features or performance work which feeds the workstation market.

    Our workstation customers felt that it would be handy to have an open source driver which could be swapped in to confirm that a kernel problem was in no way related to the binary graphics driver, but every one I spoke with (including both ATI and NVidia customers) said that what they cared about was performance and stability on a standard commercial OS distribution (typically RHEL or SLES/SLED), not open-ness or ability to work across arbitrary distros.
    Last edited by bridgman; 06-24-2008 at 03:45 PM.

  2. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by bridgman View Post
    We adopted a two driver strategy because we felt that workstation absolutely needed a closed source solution (because of the market pull for parity with Windows and the competitive challenges that brings) while most other Linux users could be satisfied with an open source stack that had all the important functionality but not the proprietary features or performance work which feeds the workstation market.

    Our workstation customers felt that it would be handy to have an open source driver which could be swapped in to confirm that a kernel problem was in no way related to the binary graphics driver, but every one I spoke with (including both ATI and NVidia customers) said that what they cared about was performance and stability on a standard commercial OS distribution (typically RHEL or SLES/SLED), not open-ness or ability to work across arbitrary distros.
    Well.. as long as the free ati driver gets fullfeatured opengl, xv, and reasonable performance, i dont care at all what stuff amd does with their binary stuff.. and the same would be true for nvidia, not that i EVER plan to again purchase an nvidia product given that the AMD commitment holds.

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    I'm fine with binary drivers, but what irritates me is they are slow when it comes to fixing things.
    New nvidia graphic card series have terrible performances under 2d desktop and they are just telling us - we'll fix this in near future. But when will this near future come (some bugs are 1+ year old!)? There are also a lot of other unfixed things that needs to be worked out, but it seems they don't care much. I'll go with AMD next time when I'm buying a graphic card.

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    If the performance of the open source AMD drivers will be at least 75%, which is still some great work to do, then I think most people (home users) will use them over the proprietary one in the future as Xv and other important features should be avaible, too. With the AMD open source plan, I would have guessed that nVidia really has to do the same to continue selling cards for the non-Windows market, but it seems that they believe in something different...

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    Quote Originally Posted by bridgman View Post
    Wasn't this an article about the other guys ? How did ATI get involved ?
    Substitute ATi for nVidia. Same difference really. The argument that Michael was going for applies both ways.

    Open drivers can be better if the same development resources (or more) are poured into them. That's where it gets complicated.

    Workstation customers make purchasing decisions based on proprietary software features and performance, which HW vendors spend a ton of money developing and don't want to give away to their competitors. The existence of open source drivers is not the issue, it's the implicit "and then we'll ban closed source drivers" that would be a problem for workstation customers.

    Workstation seems to be an exception to the typical user base, since the "Linux workstation market" is really the old "Unix workstation market", which didn't have a problem with closed source drivers.
    I'd like to see some hard facts to back up these claims. How about a double blind test in a cube farm with software developers. Or maybe a farm of say... transcriptionists. Possibly a farm of... telemarketers. Ooohh and... Medical billers...

    The only two areas of potential concern is Graphics and Video. Graphics is easy. The fact is that graphics designers should be developing 100% opengl compliant products to begin with, which an open driver will be able to provide wonderfully. The only other issue is video and that has been hashed and rehashed too many times already.

    This is easy. Linux workstation customers expect feature and performance parity with Windows, which means either the same development cost for 1/10th the market size or sharing code between the OSes. Practically speaking, that means the Linux workstation drivers are going to share a lot of code with drivers from other OSes, which in turn means that "opening up the drivers" puts your competitive edge at risk in all OSes not just Linux.
    I disagree hardily. I disagree about as much as one can disagree. First of all your already putting the efforts needed into an open driver. Once you've dropped the closed driver your costs will go down. Not up. Second of all, the community is already developing an open driver with the documentation that you've already released. All you have to do is support that effort alone. Or you could do as I have previously suggested and re-allocate existing resources. Instead of paying people to develop the closed drivers, pay those same people to teach a new generation how to develop graphics drivers. Instead of wasting time and money on a futile short term effort that will ultimately fail, invest it into the future.

    We adopted a two driver strategy because we felt that workstation absolutely needed a closed source solution (because of the market pull for parity with Windows and the competitive challenges that brings) while most other Linux users could be satisfied with an open source stack that had all the important functionality but not the proprietary features or performance work which feeds the workstation market.

    Our workstation customers felt that it would be handy to have an open source driver which could be swapped in to confirm that a kernel problem was in no way related to the binary graphics driver, but every one I spoke with (including both ATI and NVidia customers) said that what they cared about was performance and stability on a standard commercial OS distribution (typically RHEL or SLES/SLED), not open-ness or ability to work across arbitrary distros.
    The only thing I can say here is that most folks dont actually know what is --best-- for them. Do a double blind study to confirm. The scientific method actually does work.

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    Quote Originally Posted by d2kx View Post
    If the performance of the open source AMD drivers will be at least 75%, which is still some great work to do, then I think most people (home users) will use them over the proprietary one in the future as Xv and other important features should be avaible, too. With the AMD open source plan, I would have guessed that nVidia really has to do the same to continue selling cards for the non-Windows market, but it seems that they believe in something different...
    and with good reason, its not hard to see that the vast majority of hardware customers dont give a flying rats ass about freedom or stability, they dont give a fuck if their computer crashes once every day, as long as they are able to max out their 1kWh psu and see that extra 1fps on the counter..

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    Quote Originally Posted by duby229 View Post
    I'd like to see some hard facts to back up these claims. How about a double blind test in a cube farm with software developers. Or maybe a farm of say... transcriptionists. Possibly a farm of... telemarketers. Ooohh and... Medical billers...
    I like it. We'll start with telemarketers then work our way up

    Quote Originally Posted by duby229 View Post
    The only two areas of potential concern is Graphics and Video. Graphics is easy. The fact is that graphics designers should be developing 100% opengl compliant products to begin with, which an open driver will be able to provide wonderfully. The only other issue is video and that has been hashed and rehashed too many times already.
    Functionality and OpenGL compliance should be no problem for an open driver, I agree.

    Quote Originally Posted by duby229 View Post
    I disagree heartily. I disagree about as much as one can disagree. First of all your already putting the efforts needed into an open driver. Once you've dropped the closed driver your costs will go down. Not up. Second of all, the community is already developing an open driver with the documentation that you've already released. All you have to do is support that effort alone. Or you could do as I have previously suggested and re-allocate existing resources. Instead of paying people to develop the closed drivers, pay those same people to teach a new generation how to develop graphics drivers. Instead of wasting time and money on a futile short term effort that will ultimately fail, invest it into the future.
    But... but... but...

    The driver stack is mostly common code shared across multiple OSes. If we shut down the Linux driver effort and free up "all the people who work on that driver" then we shut down our Windows driver effort as well.

    If we only re-task the group working on Linux-specific portions of the driver that team is nowhere near large enough to provide the kind of functionality or performance we get from the common code base today. Without that -- buh-bye customers.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Redeeman View Post
    and with good reason, its not hard to see that the vast majority of hardware customers dont give a flying rats ass about freedom or stability, they dont give a fuck if their computer crashes once every day, as long as they are able to max out their 1kWh psu and see that extra 1fps on the counter..
    I would probably say it more diplomatically, but yeah. There is a whole continuum of users each with significantly different priorities and a slightly disturbing lack of concern about the priorities of other users

    Speaking of different users, it's probably worth mentioning that binary drivers are actually very stable if you install them on a supported distro then leave them alone. One of the big problems we have all faced is that our supported distros were picked based on workstation usage and those didn't line up with what you folks were using.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bridgman View Post
    If we only re-task the group working on Linux-specific portions of the driver that team is nowhere near large enough to provide the kind of functionality or performance we get from the common code base today. Without that -- buh-bye customers.
    I cant disagree more. Basically what your saying is that the common code in your driver runs magically on linux, and the resources needed to make it run on linux is negligible. In effect re-allocating resources would be futile due to the magical nature of your code base.

    I just dont buy it. You've clearly got something tied up into it. Better to put that "something" to better use instead of wasting it.

    Anyhow, sorry for being a pain. I certainly appreciate the work that has already been done, and would like to thank you for being such an active member in the community. I guess i could be classified as a vocal minority. Unfortunately it's the vocal minorities who know what they are talking about, and support many of the medium sized networks in this country.

  10. #20
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    Sort of... I'm saying that somewhere between 90% and 95% of the code is OS-independent.

    I'm not saying that re-allocating resources would not benefit the open source driver, I'm saying that it would not benefit the open source driver *enough* for us to be able to compete successfully with other vendor's closed source drivers on performance and features. That's a very important difference (isn't it ?).

    I agree that vocal minorities are important.

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