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Sat, 22 Nov 2008
VIA and Openchrome; Graphics Programming Manuals

Coinciding with FreedomHEC in Taipei, VIA has announced its cooperation with OpenChrome and releases Graphics Programming Manuals.

This definitely marks a big milestone in VIA's new, much more FOSS friendly Linux support. Not only releasing the source code to VIA's own graphics driver, but actually interoperating with OpenChrome to help to create one future driver base and fight against the fragmentation of the developer and user base.

After all, there's probably no other family of GPU's where there are so many different Linux/Xorg drivers like VIA's. What a terrible waste of R&D resources to reinvent the wheel over and over again. One reason for doing that (VIA's driver being closed source) has disappeared when it was made open source a couple of months ago.

So let's hope that this cooperation will be as successful as possible, and we can have one unified driver codebase with the cumulative features of both individual drivers right now. Once that has been done, we can start to think about helping the result to get into mainline X.org and put the entire history to rest.

I also appreciate and welcome the release of the graphics programming manuals for the two most recent generations of integrated graphics chips. Sure, they are by no means as exhaustive as documentation of major competitors in the GPU market - but then, VIA is a small company and they cannot release documentation which never even existed in the first place. So please accept that VIA is working on releasing the documentation it has, but is unlikely to be able to work on creating additional documentation that doesn't even exist.

There are still some things to be done, though. We still cannot include MPEG/H.263/H.264 hardware acceleration support in the driver due to unresolved legal issues (working on that, don't worry) and there is still no open source 3D support for the Chrome9 core (VX800 chipset). But then, life would be simple if all of those problems would disappear overnight. In any case, I think VIA can now legitimately claim that it is moving in the right direction, that it is not only trying to become a much better 'Free and Open Source Citizen'.

There will be more manuals and code up for release at some point, but please excuse that I simply don't want to speak about the tentative schedule of things that haven't happened yet.

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