AMD Publishes R600 and R700 3D Code

Dec 30, 2008

Close to year's end, U.S. chipmaker Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) has released the Linux code for its ATI R600 and R700 microprocessors.

As the Phoronix hardware portal announces, AMD is delivering to open source developers, through the release of the code, the tools to support 3D for all ATI graphics processors, even for the newest cards. Per the announcement, "For end-users, today's releases are a significant milestone in the step towards open-source ATI 3D support on the Linux desktop." Also, "there is a chance" that the Linux distro will be available the second quarter of 2009 and include the 3D support.

Developers having been waiting for AMD's announcement since the ATI graphics processors first started to appear on the market. The California chipmaker acquired the ATI graphics specialists in October 2006 and adopted a strategy in September 2007 to release documentation for its ATI drivers under Open Source licensing. The first free drivers in cooperation with Novell appeared shortly thereafter and AMD released documentation for further processors in February 2008, albeit under a non-disclosure agreement.

Phoronix explained why it took almost 15 months to release the R600 documentation: "[AMD coworkers] John Bridgman and Alex Deucher have been working on deciding what code or documentation is needed for programming, sanitize it of any information not relevant to bringing up the 3D engine, remove any details concerning future ATI hardware, and then getting all of this work cleared by AMD's lead software and hardware architects so that it can be publicly released without any NDAs or other string attached."

The currently released documentation focuses solely on the 3D engine, but AMD promises further specifications, such as for the Unified Video Decoder. The code has been available up to now for free in various git repositories at the freedesktop.org website.

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