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Thread: Why The Open-Source Graphics Card Failed

  1. #11
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    Aug 2007
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    A vga "card" with 640x480 framebuffer is nothing really fancy. It was a toy project from the beginning it seems. That others used the design to make something more useful i not bad, but maybe they should have given back a bit more infos/sample cards. I dont think it is a huge loss for the community, the new pi seems to be much more interesting in terms of usefullness. Even the oldest gfx cards work in vesa mode and why to create something "new" with lower specs, thats something i dont get...

  2. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by theosib View Post
    No company should be shamed for contributing honestly (anonymously or otherwise) to a FOSS project.
    That's not what I read in the article. Did I read it wrongly?

  3. #13
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    Default ProjectVGA and OGP were mostly independent

    Quote Originally Posted by Kano View Post
    A vga "card" with 640x480 framebuffer is nothing really fancy. It was a toy project from the beginning it seems. That others used the design to make something more useful i not bad, but maybe they should have given back a bit more infos/sample cards. I dont think it is a huge loss for the community, the new pi seems to be much more interesting in terms of usefullness. Even the oldest gfx cards work in vesa mode and why to create something "new" with lower specs, thats something i dont get...
    I'm not sure that anyone derived any related works from ProjectVGA. In any case, the PCBs were completely unrelated, and very little FPGA code, if any, was shared between the projects.

  4. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by theosib View Post
    No company should be shamed for contributing honestly (anonymously or otherwise) to a FOSS project.
    Without knowing anything about this situation, I will say I think there is a difference between "anonymously" and "secretly". It seems one person is claiming 1 and another the other, and they are quite different.

  5. #15
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    Default That's what Traversal was for!

    Quote Originally Posted by smitty3268 View Post
    Without knowing anything about this situation, I will say I think there is a difference between "anonymously" and "secretly". It seems one person is claiming 1 and another the other, and they are quite different.
    Traversal Technology, the commercial arm of the OGP, was specifically set up to do business in the commercial and military sector, even under NDA, as long as it was legal and ethical. For instance, if we had a military or aerospace customer who wanted to license our technology but do so secretly, then Traversal could handle this. This was part of Traversal's charter from the outset, and this fact was no secret. PART of Open Hardware Foundation's charter was to be a community-representing board to over-see such activities of Traversal without the need to disclose everything, and as such the OHF was privy to all of Traversal's activities, secret or otherwise.

    The point is that no one should have been surprised that Traversal would have engaged in the sort of business that they were openly chartered to do. Michael's objections exist in part because he was a late-comer, and he missed out on all of the mailing list discussions where these things were discussed at length and fully organized and agreed upon.

    Regardless of what Michael may have felt, there was no dark conspiracy here. Indeed, it was often mentioned on the mailing list that we did this or that using this particular company's resources, at no cost to anyone but that company. Anyone who was really PAYING ATTENTION (e.g. most people on the mailing list) wasn't surprised in the least that we had collaborated with a company and that we benefitted greatly form this collaboration. Indeed, this company's name was mentioned quite a bit on the mailing list. My relationship with this company was also well-known, as can be seen in the early slashdot and kerneltrap articles about the OGP. At this company's request, we did not talk about some aspects of the collaboration ON THE WEB, and we didn't leverage it for publicity, but on the open graphics mailing list, it wasn't really much of a secret. Indeed, Michael was not the first to notice this relationship, nor was he the first to contact me about it; he was just the first to make wild assumptions about it and blab his misinformed assumptions publicly. (As usual, the truth is much less interesting than the twisted ravings of tabloid journalists.)

    I'm not mentioning this company's name here because I don't trust that you too won't try to sully their name in exchange for having benefitted the FOSS community immensely. But if you can use Google, you can find out who they are.

  6. #16
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    As far as I can tell theosib's and Michael's reports are not contradictory, so in my view both POVs are justified. But even when assuming that Michael got the whole thing wrong because he was a "late comer", it is clear that communication inside the project was pretty bad. Or else these things would have been clear to everybody without misunderstandings. You might try to argue that core people knew about this, but keep in mind this was supposed to be an open source project. Neglecting to inform the rest of the community about the motivations/background of the project just because they joined late is bad enough alone, and given this, it is no wonder that the OGP failed.

    Anyway, I am a hardware designer myself (with the eggshell still on my back, but I think I'm capable), and I've played with the idea of an open graphics card myself. Sadly it involves too much rare knowledge from multiple people to be able to produce such a card compliant with today's standards. A minimum is a good team that knows what it's doing and it is hard enough to gather such people with deep understanding of hardware board and chip design. Especially for no payment. You'd have to have really rare luck to be able to find such people, and then also to be able to gather money for the prototypes. Though in the beginning you can get away with simulations and cheap prototype boards (the tools are free!), then when you can show something that the project has merit and a chance to survive, you could surely find investors. But in the end, when approaching the state where you want to have something commonly usable in the hand, it is going to need a crazy amount of money.

  7. #17
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    Default OGP succeeded

    Quote Originally Posted by ultimA View Post
    it is no wonder that the OGP failed.
    Arguably, the project didn't fail. We developed a 100% open source FPGA-based graphics card development platform, and then we completed a manufacturing run of them. Also, they work too. You can pop a fully-programmed OGD1 into a PC and boot it up as the console.

  8. #18
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    Default Traversal

    Just to clarify a bit, I have been on the Open-Graphics mailing lists since pretty close to the beginning. I can tell you that Traversals role in this whole endeavor was well known and agreed upon by "The List". What was not common knowledge, but no huge secret, was "the secret sellout". There was no "sellout"! Any of the old time list members can tell you that Tim and company were a good bunch of guys to hang out with on the lists.

    Gary

  9. #19
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    Apr 2008
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    I read about OGP at the time it was active, that was quite a while ago but I recalled reading at the time that OGP would be used for other purposes besides a VGA card. That said.... with OGP people wanted a fully open card design, the design was implemented, it was fabbed, sold, and worked. The FAQ for OGP (dated 2002-2006) mentions Traversal multiple times, including that OGP is dual license (GPL & commercial) and that Traversal would sell commercial licenses.

    Playing devil's advocate, though, as a GPL'ed design, a company could end up using it without paying a nickel or contributing anything to development. Although actual modifications to the design would have to have source available (per the GPL), it seems to me a on-chip or on-board bus would permit mixture of proprietary and GPL components.

    One thing I can say, although both open source graphics projects did for the most part fizzle, they did both bring awareness to people wanting things to be more open than nvidia and ati were having things at the time.

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