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ATI brings Rage 3D acceleration to open source world

Begins Linux driver development

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ATI has followed rival 3D graphics specialists 3dfx and Nvidia onto the Linux bandwagon with the open source release of its Rage chips' 3D acceleration and multimedia specs. The company also said it has contracted software house Precision Insight to develop a set of open source Linux drivers for its Rage 128 technology. ATI said the results of the development effort would be released "to the open source community" next Spring. Of course, ATI's motivation here (or its rivals', for that matter) isn't quite as altruistic as it at first sounds. Quite apart from allowing it to sell its graphics cards to Linux users -- and, perhaps, OEMs keen to offer complete x86 systems based on the open source OS -- the move will make it easier for all those programmers out there who want to get 3D graphics cards running on their own systems, or running rather better than existing official drivers allow. For example, Apple's Power Mac G3, with its bundled Rage 128 card, has long suffered from buggy drivers, not least because it's never been entirely clear whether their development was the responsibility of Apple or ATI. Today's news should allow the creation of third-party drivers that could well work better than the current ones. ATI isn't new to the open source arena, having long made its 2D specifications available to the Xfree86 group to allow Linux's X Window GUI to support ATI's cards. However, this is the first time ATI's 3D, TV tuner and video capture technologies have been exposed to public scrutiny. ®

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