Thursday, June 5, 2008

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Enter OpenGraphics. Saviours of the new, free world.

Their goal? Well, they've seen that unpaid, volunteer developers can band together to create buggy, inconsistent software that's really cheap, so they want to apply those same great principles to hardware. Because you know, if it works for software, it must work for hardware.

But you know what guys and gals? I think I'm going to have to break with you all and claim that this is a great idea! I mean, it could totally work. I mean, open source software works because it's really easy to build software, and you can just copy someone else's and with little effort make modifications and produce your own version. Same for hardware right? It's really easy to build hardw... ohm umm. wait. Hmm, do I have any friends with chip fabs in their garage? Let me think. I'll get back to you on that one.

Hmm, I don't get it. Let me read up on their about page to see if I'm missing something.

Currently, the market for such cards is not served very well. NVIDIA has no offering in this market, ATI's older cards have very limited support, while their new ones have none, and Matrox has no offering in this market either. XGI are off to a good start but still no 3D code yet.
Umm. Intel? Market share leader of graphics solutions? You know, those guys that aren't fighting for the performance crown with ATI and NVIDIA, and who have a vested interest in seeing their hardware platform run all different kinds of software, and who have a spotty history with Microsoft? Let's ignore them.

But OK, I'll give you the benefit of the doubt. You probably wrote that a long time ago, and haven't bothered to update it because it'll make you look really stupid. Seriously though, I really admire the fact that instead of trying to convince a bunch of smart people who know the business, who know how to build the hardware, and who know how to sell it cheaply, you thought you could go off and build your own and show them how it's done.

Oh wait, you have some caveats?

  • While the hardware will be open spec, not all of it will be open source at first. This gives Traversal Technology the advantage it needs to recoup its non-recurring engineering (NRE) costs. (Edit by Tim: We have committed to releasing all of the RTL to the chip. Some of it is being developed in the open already. Some of it may be released at the time the ASIC is released. Some of it will be released after a time delay necessary for said competitive advantage.)
  • Due to market size it will not be possible to compete on 3d performance with market leaders such as ATI and NVIDIA. This is not an immediate problem because gaming is not what this card is aimed at, but performance should be good enough for scientific simulations and similar.
  • An initial version of such a card will likely be limited to being single-headed with a single video-output. TV-out may be an option but may not be usable together with vga out at the same time
  • This project is currently limited to an initial product offering with a PCI-based variant with PCI-express as a follow-up after product viability has been secured.
Sweet. So you're building a card that doesn't have any features that I want, is missing 3D support for things that you don't think I need, and that isn't completely free. Because you think I'm going to buy it so you can recoup your costs and justify all those hours you wasted? Can I just give the money to your mom? Isn't she open too?

If you allow me to take a step back for a moment, I think I can tell you where you went wrong. See, when you say in your earlier quote "Currently, the market for such cards is not served very well", you imply that there is a market for free and open graphics cards. Actually, as far as I can tell, and call me an asshat or whatever, there is a market for computers that work, and applications that do stuff. And if you look around, people are making cash-money providing exactly that.

But ok ok, fine. If you can give it to me for really cheap, then I might be interested in it. I mean a graphics board with all kind of pointy pins might be something I could use to stab myself with. What? You want $1400? I think I'd rather have 30 seconds with Ashley Dupre.

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