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Thread: First Open Graphics board appears

  1. #1

    Default First Open Graphics board appears

    JOSEPH BLACK AND his team of graphics enthusiasts have been working for quite some time on a pretty encouraging project - an open-spec graphics card.

    Thanks to our friend from Slovakia, we managed to track down the project and learned more about it.

    This project is on the basis that a GPU should not end up with tons of propriatary software or hardware, containing hidden problems that aren't mentioned to the press, and yet cause nervous breakdowns for developers worldwide.

    One of the situations I learned about is a certain bug with certain unnamed GPUs and it considers screw-ups with HDR - not fixable in a GPU - which of course, was not mentioned anywhere, and yet developers that experienced the problem thought they were doing something wrong.
    http://www.theinquirer.net/default.aspx?article=36761

  2. #2

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    Any thoughts on how much it'll cost?

  3. #3
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    Quite a bit initially. The board in question is more of an FPGA programming platform with DVI transponders, etc. Expect this gem to cost you something like $200-400 right at the moment while they work out the quirks on the initial design. Once that's done, you can expect the price to plummet because there's little in this design that's not intrinsically in a card from the ATI Rage 128/NVidia TNT era. Having said that, don't expect anything impressive like Doom3 or Quake4 playing on this card- it won't because games like these need the GLSL or similar programmable shader support to do their things.

  4. #4

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    while not a heavy gamer, I am looking forward to the x3 release, so I doubt I'll be getting my hands on the first gen release.

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    Well, they're just catching up with the stuff that's showing in the mobile phones, etc. now. The open hardware crowd's about 5 or so years behind the curve at this point to something that might get a marginal toehold on something like Doom3, etc. This isn't to say that it's not desirable, or that I'm not going to seriously consider getting one to play with- it's just that if you're looking to replace Intel, NVidia, or AMD anytime in the near forseeable future with a totally open engine, you're going to be disappointed. :-)

  6. #6
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    I'll buy a board as early as possible, to a) support this kind of development and b) own a piece of hopefully groundbreaking and important computing history

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    "Well, they're just catching up with the stuff that's showing in the mobile phones, etc. now. The open hardware crowd's about 5 or so years behind the curve at this point to something that might get a marginal toehold on something like Doom3, etc."

    Well I don't know of any phones that do accelerated 3d graphics. I know that there are dual proccessor ARM chips were one is dedicated towards multimedia and such, but that's not going to do any 3d acceleration. (I have one)


    The developers are trying to do two major different things here to make a profit and have a go at success, if that works then it will lead to bigger better things.

    Part one is that this is a very large FPGA chip to have. From a hardware hacker's perspective This thing represents a large programmable proccessor with 265megs of RAM with a programmable PCI interface with 2 very high speed ports on the back. All of it is documented and there are a few GPL'd designs to use (such as the smaller secondary FPGA that does the PCI stuff)

    So this means that it's a programmable card of fairly good power. Only one on the market.. To build something similar yourself in a one-off setup would cost many thousands of dollars.

    So even if it is not that attractive from a graphical card standpoint it would be very nice for very custom chip designs, educational purposes, and such things.

    Some examples of proccessor designs that are out there currently are designs for accelerating crypto and providing hardware accelerated random number generation. Sun has GPL'd their SPARC proccessor. There are designs aviable for accelerating media encoding. There are other CPU designs.


    So for that purpose they will probably sell quite a few. Just people who want to seriously hack with proccessor designs and never been able to afford it before.


    The second avenue is that usefull for is that once the GPU design is finalized they will turn it into a ASIC design.

    Using this ASIC chip then they will sell it to embedded developers taht want a very low-powered, but completely open chip design for providing 3d acceleration and advanced Linux graphics. They will have drivers, developer software, operating system support and other things that would be completely open to embedded developers at no extra cost. This is a far cry of what you get from Nvidia or ATI.

    Beleive it or not embedded development of computers is MUCH MUCH larger then the desktop market. A order of magnatude larger then desktops or gamers.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by drag View Post
    Well I don't know of any phones that do accelerated 3d graphics. I know that there are dual proccessor ARM chips were one is dedicated towards multimedia and such, but that's not going to do any 3d acceleration. (I have one)
    There's none on the market in most places yet, but the ASICs are out there in the hands of people and I keep seeing demos, etc. of the things at varying places. They're mostly tinkering with ImageTec and BitBoys based silicon with OpenGL ES 1.X and 2.X stuff right at the moment.

    The developers are trying to do two major different things here to make a profit and have a go at success, if that works then it will lead to bigger better things.
    I think you misunderstood my comment there. I wasn't ragging on what they've done so far- I want one of those cards to mess with. I just didn't want people thinking they're going to get anything other than something in the TNT 2 class of GPU at this point from the group.

    Part one is that this is a very large FPGA chip to have. From a hardware hacker's perspective This thing represents a large programmable proccessor with 265megs of RAM with a programmable PCI interface with 2 very high speed ports on the back. All of it is documented and there are a few GPL'd designs to use (such as the smaller secondary FPGA that does the PCI stuff)
    Ohhh YEAAAH! This thing is going to rock for more than just an open GPU. And I'm going to want a couple of the silly things for my company's projects- partly for the Open GPU, partly for the hackable stream processor/co-processor capabilities that they'll obviously present.

    The second avenue is that usefull for is that once the GPU design is finalized they will turn it into a ASIC design.

    Using this ASIC chip then they will sell it to embedded developers taht want a very low-powered, but completely open chip design for providing 3d acceleration and advanced Linux graphics. They will have drivers, developer software, operating system support and other things that would be completely open to embedded developers at no extra cost. This is a far cry of what you get from Nvidia or ATI.

    Beleive it or not embedded development of computers is MUCH MUCH larger then the desktop market. A order of magnatude larger then desktops or gamers.
    Heh... I DO believe it- it's my official line of work, in fact. I'm keenly interested in the whole project from start to finish. In fact, the position that the OpenGPU and the open Intel drivers bring to the table is critical to things for my business.

    I just wanted to let people know, this isn't going to let you play Doom3 or Quake4...YET...

  9. #9
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    Heh... I DO believe it- it's my official line of work, in fact. I'm keenly interested in the whole project from start to finish. In fact, the position that the OpenGPU and the open Intel drivers bring to the table is critical to things for my business.
    Very cool.

    Ya 3d performance is going to be very non-stellar. It's just that there are a lot of misconceptions about the project (for instance many people still think that they are doing 2d-only). These people may not have a lot of experiance at doing 3d video cards, but they do try to think things through intellegently, so I like to try to clear things up a bit, but obviously your on the ball.

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