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AMD unleashes open-source 3D code

Big bang in the GPUniverse

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AMD has released "the fundamental Linux code" needed to develop open-source 3D-acceleration drivers for its R600 and R700 ATI graphic-processors series.

This is good news not only for those wishing to create drivers for those potent GPU series - known to non-AMD watchers by their marketing names of ATI Radeon HD 2x00, HD 3x00 (both R600), and Radeon HD 4x00 (R700) - but also for the legions of non-coding Linux-lovers who are lusting for access to the R600/700's 3D powers.

According to a Phoronix, the bulk of the credit goes to AMD engineers John Bridgman and Alex Deucher, who "sanitized" the code of all proprietary non-essentials, then shepherded its approval through the AMD honcho-gauntlet so that it could be released "without any NDAs or other string [sic] attached."

Coupled with AMD's announcement that it would support the recently released open-source OpenCL 1.0 spec, which enables GPUs to be used for general-purpose computing (GPGPU), it appears that the GPUniverse is moving slowly but steadily towards an Open Source Software (OSS) model - although Nvidia, from all reports, is dragging its feet when it comes to open-sourcing its drivers.

The OSS future looks bright for GPUs: Intel is open with its drivers and AMD is catching - has caught? - up. Apple introduced OpenCL, and Intel, Nvidia, and AMD/ATI have announced their support. OSS development should proceed apace, both in 3D acceleration and GPGPU.

As one poster on Slashdot waxed enthusiastically, such power would be "useful for cracking WEP/WPA keys." ®

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