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Intel Open Sources Graphics Drivers 345

PeterBrett writes "Intel's Keith Packard announced earlier today that Intel was open sourcing graphics drivers for their new 965 Express Chipset family graphics controllers. From the announcement: 'Designed to support advanced rendering features in modern graphics APIs, this chipset family includes support for programmable vertex, geometry, and fragment shaders. By open sourcing the drivers for this new technology, Intel enables the open source community to experiment, develop, and contribute to the continuing advancement of open source 3D graphics.' The new drivers, available from the Linux Graphics Drivers from Intel website, are licensed under the GPL for Linux kernel drivers, and MIT license for XOrg 2D & 3D rendering subsystems."
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Intel Open Sources Graphics Drivers

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  • Re:Wow. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Tumbleweed ( 3706 ) * on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @06:08PM (#15877014)
    Well, this isn't for discrete graphics cards, right - it's for the built-in graphics in the 965 family chipsets. That's my understanding, anyway.

    Still, a very nice move.
  • Re:Wow. (Score:3, Informative)

    by d_jedi ( 773213 ) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @06:13PM (#15877040)
    Not that you'll be playing any games with Intel integrated graphics, either..
  • by FlipmodePlaya ( 719010 ) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @06:16PM (#15877055) Journal
    http://www.osnews.com/story.php?news_id=15446 [osnews.com] Looks like they're at least considering it.
  • by l2718 ( 514756 ) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @06:21PM (#15877079)
    Well, Intel's integrated graphics chipset is a far cry from the nVidia / ATI high-end accellerators. Cloning it will be next to useless (who'll buy a separate graphics card to replaace an on-board solution?) since most other chipset manufacturers already have on-board solutions of their own. I doubt this will change the high-end makers rationale for keeping their drivers secret.
  • It's alive! (Score:2, Informative)

    by hackwrench ( 573697 ) <hackwrench@hotmail.com> on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @06:34PM (#15877145) Homepage Journal
    No. Intel is open sourcing their driver not their entire card. Even so, this project could use open source resources from other sources and get a boost in the arm from something like this. You don't seem to understand how open source works.
  • Re:Wow. (Score:4, Informative)

    by Fordiman ( 689627 ) <fordiman AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @06:39PM (#15877160) Homepage Journal
    Not for Linux users.

    Given that ATI and nVidia's support for Linux is next to nil, and that their mystery blobs are somewhat error-prone, (not to mention the inherent issues in using a generic binary - link conflicts, non-optimized machine code, etc.), I don't see how choosing an Intel card would be rediculous.

    Sure, they're behind, but the 965 series is better than, say, ATI's 8500 (the highest of their cards that is properly supported in Linux). Seems to me that Intel's just jumped ahead of the game by becoming available to a niche market.

    Meanwhile, I don't exactly trust the business-motivated hacks found in blobs from graphics card vendors (re: the quake.exe debacle). Having source makes a bechmarking far more auditable.
  • Re:Wow. (Score:1, Informative)

    by PastAustin ( 941464 ) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @06:43PM (#15877181)
    Actually in my experience many games play very well with Intel Integrated.

    Granted an nVidia would slaughter an Intel but the fact that it is on the motherboard it really really nice, additionally thanks to DVMT you can tune the video card so if it is an office user who isn't going to be doing much graphics intensive things it can be simply 64mb or 128mb but you can turn it up to 256mb when someone is going to be gaming or doing advanced graphical renderings. I was very pleased with my 915GAG with the 915G chipset. The only game that didn't play was CS:Source and that was because of their lack of support for DVMT.
  • Re:Happy now? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Ruie ( 30480 ) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @06:52PM (#15877226) Homepage
    I can't say I particularly care (not using any on-board graphics)

    One area where on-board graphics is important are notebooks - especially those thin and light ones. A choice of video card is rare, especially if one cares about battery life.

    Traditionally, Linux support of new notebook video chips was very uncertain, as it is not possible to get a new notebook with a 2 year old graphics controller. Thus the fact that all-Intel notebooks are a safe choice (with not only 2d, but also 3d and wireless working under Linux) is a truly wonderful news.

    Also, the new Xserver features have to be implemented on something before there are binary blobs that support them. So having an open code to experiment with, say, Render, impacts other graphics cards as well.

  • Re:Wow. (Score:4, Informative)

    by Tet ( 2721 ) <slashdot@astradyn[ ]o.uk ['e.c' in gap]> on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @06:54PM (#15877236) Homepage Journal
    Sure, they're behind, but the 965 series is better than, say, ATI's 8500 (the highest of their cards that is properly supported in Linux).

    Actually, the 9250 is the fasted fully supported ATI card under Linux. The r300 driver (9600, 9800 and X800) will probably soon be stable enough for widespread use, too. How the 965 compares to those, I don't know. But I suspect it'll be more than good enough for 99% of all users.

  • Slow down cowboy (Score:2, Informative)

    by tomstdenis ( 446163 ) <tomstdenis@gmCOMMAail.com minus punct> on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @07:01PM (#15877276) Homepage
    Remember ... to use this GPU [totally unrelated to the CPU] you *MUST* use an Intel processor.

    So before y'all get too far ahead patting Intel on the back remember that you are not free to use the GPU with say an ARM, MIPS, PPC or other x86 processor [via/amd/etc]. Not only that, but IIRC Intel GPUs are tied to Intel chipset motherboards.

    So while it's all good and said that the drivers are open source, that helps users, it doesn't help the industry and society as a whole. Making their GPUs independently available outside of their x86 processor line would [e.g. as a discrete chip others could license or as an add-on PCI-E card].

  • Re:Slow down cowboy (Score:2, Informative)

    by eklitzke ( 873155 ) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @07:17PM (#15877367) Homepage
    Of course not -- you can only use the GPU on motherboards that support it, namely those with an Intel chipset. But since the hardware specs and drivers have been released under a free license, you are more than welcome to try to get the GPU to run on any hardware that you can dream of.
  • by Schraegstrichpunkt ( 931443 ) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @07:25PM (#15877410) Homepage
    When there is a unified graphics API, the driver writers have a finite set of things to test, and quality follows.

    -1, Troll

    Read Documentation/stable_api_nonsense.txt [linux.no]

  • Re:Wow. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Aadain2001 ( 684036 ) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @07:46PM (#15877509) Journal
    Yup: http://ipw2200.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net]
  • Re:Wow. (Score:2, Informative)

    by mdcatlin ( 994306 ) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @07:46PM (#15877510)
    Intel doesn't make discrete graphics, but they make a hell of a lot of integrated graphics chips. The linked website lists the chipsets for which the open-source drivers are published: Supported Hardware and Driver Documentation The Linux graphics drivers from Intel support the following Intel® chipsets:
    Short name Full name
    965G G965 Integrated Graphics Controller
    965 Q963/Q965 Integrated Graphics Controller
    946GZ 946GZ/GL Integrated Graphics Controller
    945G 945G Integrated Graphics Controller
    945GM Mobile 945GM/GMS/940GML Express Integrated Graphics Controller
    915G 82915G/GV/910GL Express Chipset Family Graphics Controller
    915G 82915G Express Chipset Family Graphics Controller
    915GM Mobile 915GM/GMS/910GML Express Graphics Controller
    865G 82865G Integrated Graphics Controller
    855GM 82852/855GM Integrated Graphics Device
    852GM 82852/855GM Integrated Graphics Device
    845G 82845G/GL[Brookdale-G]/GE Chipset Integrated Graphics Device
    i830M 82830 Chipset Graphics Controller
    815 82815 Chipset Graphics Controller
    810 82810 Chipset Graphics Controller
    810-DC100 82810-M DC-100 System and Graphics Controller
  • Re:Now... (Score:3, Informative)

    by LWATCDR ( 28044 ) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @08:33PM (#15877737) Homepage Journal
    The Intel graphics cards are good for anything but heavy duty gaming and CAD. Not a great video card but it will run XGL just fine and it is open source.
    Now if AMD will open source the ATI drivers we will be all set.
  • by t35t0r ( 751958 ) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @08:36PM (#15877751)
    The i855gm/915 has a docbook almost 500 pages in length with all the specs for the chip. If you go to intel's page for drivers you'll see that their drivers are created by Tungsten. If you run the most recent xorg, xf86-intel-video drivers from freedesktop (prior to this announcement), and mesa you'll have almost fully working DRI. This announcement is just to show that the OSS drivers now support the new 965 chipset. Nothing new here move along!!!
  • Re:Now... (Score:2, Informative)

    by firl ( 907479 ) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @08:59PM (#15877850)
  • by Hobart ( 32767 ) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @09:24PM (#15877926) Homepage Journal
    This seems like a good on-topic thread in which to mention the freedesktop.org (X.org folks) effort to write a 100% open source 3D driver for the NVidia cards -- nouveau

    http://nouveau.freedesktop.org/wiki/ [freedesktop.org]

    If you're an owner of an nVidia card, please do all you can to help contribute! They appear to be suprisingly far along.

    Slashcode bug # 497457 - unfixed since December 2001 - Go look it up [sourceforge.net]!
  • Re:Happy now? (Score:3, Informative)

    by NatteringNabob ( 829042 ) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @09:30PM (#15877942)
    [One area where on-board graphics is important are notebooks] Ain't that the truth? I have a Gateway Solo 1450 which is a pretty nice cheap laptop with an Intel 830MG chip set. It worked fine under Fedora Core 3 when Intel was apparently supporting binary drivers, but out of FC 4, FC5, Centos 4, and Novell/SuSE 10, only SuSE works - and then only if you don't do something rash like try to use virtual consoles which kill X. I don't need killer 3D performance on this laptop, but it sure would be nice if 2D 1024x768 worked, and it doesn't. Hopefully now it will be able to get that working.
  • Re:Now... (Score:5, Informative)

    by jambarama ( 784670 ) <jambarama.gmail@com> on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @09:51PM (#15878013) Homepage Journal
    Actually, ATI/AMD is talking about open-sourcing [infoworld.com] their drivers too. nVidia already has pretty functional GNU/Linux drivers (albeit closed source), so with these other two GNU/Linux could finally have the support it needs to be a viable desktop alternative.

    Now if only we could get some open sourced drivers for higher end sound cards and more obscure wireless cards.
  • Re:Now... (Score:3, Informative)

    by rm69990 ( 885744 ) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @10:20PM (#15878112)
    I love Intel's graphics cards for that very reason. I don't play games, I don't do game development, I don't do CAD work, etc etc. I simply enjoy having the OS X eye candy with the neat dashboard effects, and all that fun stuff, and Intel's cards can handle all of this and is also way less expensive than Nvidia or ATI, which are extreme overkill for me. For regular desktop work with fun eye candy, there is no difference between my Mom's iMac with a Radeon chipset and my Mac Mini with an Intel chipset.

    I think people like myself are Intel's main market.
  • Re:Now... (Score:2, Informative)

    by liquidpele ( 663430 ) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @10:41PM (#15878178) Journal
    I second this.

    I had an older ATI card from around 2000 where the official XP driver would cause a seg fault or some other hideous error on booting up windows. It was great. I had to install windows 98 to get the 98 driver, and then upgrade to XP to have it still use the older driver. Haven't bought ATI since.
  • by Andy Dodd ( 701 ) <{atd7} {at} {cornell.edu}> on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @11:06PM (#15878270) Homepage
    "That's a stupid excuse, though. They could always isolate the SGI-laden parts, LGPL the rest, and let the community at least have a fighting chance at replacing what's behind the proprietary API's. I'm not claiming that our homebrew routines would *ever* be better, but I suppose it is within the realm of possibility. Oh, and when I say "always", I do really mean *always*... at any point, even right this minute, they could do so."
    They tried that. After a while it Simply Didn't Work - It's not just SGI, and in fact the particular issue that I remember was support for S3 Texture Compression, aka S3TC. For whatever reason, the licensing of S3TC prevented them from ever supporting it in an open-source driver.

    ATI started releasing binary-only drivers for Linux shortly after the UT2003 S3TC support fiasco. (In short, UT2K3 would only run on NVidia cards under Linux because they were the only ones that supported S3TC under Linux.)
  • Re:Now... (Score:2, Informative)

    by blincoln ( 592401 ) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @11:10PM (#15878284) Homepage Journal

    I've never had bluescreen or OS crash issues, but I've had two PCs now where the ATI system tray control panel utility thing crashes every time it runs, so I can't access any of the fancy desktop features of the Radeon 7000s I've been using, whether I had one or both in the system.

    This is on XP Pro SP2. My old system started out as SP1 and it had the same problem then. I have no third-party crap like Explorer replacements, or even screensavers. It's my work PC, so it's got Office, Visual Studio, The GIMP, Programmer's File Editor, Foobar2000, and that's essentially it. It's not even a random beige box PC, it's an HP corporate desktop model. It's about as non-abnormal as a Windows machine can get.

    Meanwhile, on my home PCs I've had three variants of the TNT2, a GeForce, a GeForce 3, a GeForce 4 TI4600, and a GeForce 7600GT (not in that order). The only driver issue I've ever had is that the newer ForceWare drivers can't deal with older DirectX titles like the original Soul Reaver. I've never had them bluescreen, never had the control panel applet crash.
  • Chances are they have licensed things in their silicon implementation that they are forbidden to release documentation for.

    You seem to have forgotten that ATI cards were fully documented until about 2002-2003 or so, when they started licensing technologies from other companies that were forbidding them from releasing documentation or open-source drivers for said technologies.

    The Unreal Tournament 2003/S3 Texture Compression fiasco showed that not licensing such technologies would be commercial suicide. ATI started releasing closed-source drivers shortly after that incident, and initially the main difference was S3TC support.
  • Re: Wow (Score:4, Informative)

    by friedmud ( 512466 ) on Thursday August 10, 2006 @01:37AM (#15878673)
    Don't forget that _lots_ of people use Linux to get work done... and a whole crapload of that work is graphical in nature (including CAD and 3D rendering).

    At my job we all have huge dual-processor Xeons running the absolute fastest videocards we can get our hands on (which right now are some variant of Nvidia Quadro cards)... and not a single one is using windows.

    Now why aren't we running ATi cards? well... because their linux drivers suck.

    So what's the incentive for writing good drivers for linux? Oh yeah... because a lot of people will use them... even if they're not gaming.

  • by PeterBrett ( 780946 ) on Thursday August 10, 2006 @02:30AM (#15878796) Homepage

    No, it's very much alive. Just before I posted this story, I sent a similar e-mail to the list. BTW, there's currently a call going out [gmane.org] for people to work on the OpenGraphics drivers.

    However, I do worry that should Intel decide to put their graphics chip on a discrete PCI card it would eat up much of our potential market...

  • Re:Now... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Jussi K. Kojootti ( 646145 ) on Thursday August 10, 2006 @06:37AM (#15879266)
    Actually, ATI/AMD is talking about open-sourcing their drivers too.
    You probably meant "a columnist is talking about ATI opening a subset of drivers", or do you have some other references?
  • Re:Now... (Score:3, Informative)

    by laffer1 ( 701823 ) <luke@foolishgame[ ]om ['s.c' in gap]> on Thursday August 10, 2006 @09:46AM (#15880307) Homepage Journal
    ATI cards do not work right in AMD systems. (at least not well with nforce) I've seen this since the k6-2 300mhz with ATI. That's why I was shocked who was buying ATI. Its not that your hardware is shitty exactly, its just not compatible. ATIs video cards are solid on intel chipsets with recent drivers. If i put my card in my AMD 2300+ sempron with an nforce2 chipset it runs like shit. I had a firegl card in it at first and switched over to a geforce fx 5200 and its much more stable. Both worked in my intel box.

    Most of you are writing about very old ATI cards. The newer drivers are much more stable. Its a recent thing though. As for the control center, in the newer drivers its written in .NET. Its stable but it has to load the .NET framework on boot to use any of their configuration stuff. I have an ATI 9600xt AIW and its fine. It works ok in windows, linux and more recently with FreeBSD/xorg. Anyone with a 7000 series radeon can't even run the newer drivers. You do need a decent amount of ram for the .NET shit. I have 1GB of ram on XP SP2 with latest patches. I'm also running a dual xeon 2.0GHz dell. If it works in a dell...

1 Angstrom: measure of computer anxiety = 1000 nail-bytes