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FrequentlyAskedQuestions

fr : Foire Aux Questions



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What is OGP, the Open Graphics Project?

We are making well-documented Open Graphics cards that can be easily and reliably supported by open source operating systems.

Our project has produced an open development board for anyone wanting to design, use or tinker with hardware. We are using this board to develop an open graphics card optimized to be fast for current and next generation GUI environments. While our first design will accelerate games to varying degrees, that is not its primary purpose. It is targeted mostly for 3D operations, specifically those that are used to render GUIs (Graphical User Interfaces).


Why do we need an Open graphics card?

Engineers and developers

If you make systems that want great graphics or if you want good drivers for your graphics card, you will know how often the current manufacturers keep forgetting to return your phone calls. You should be talking to us.

Even very large vendors have trouble getting manufacturers to provide complete specifications and good drivers for their hardware. Talk about hundreds of thousands of orders? You will likely be given outdated, sometimes incorrect information and an obsolete tool chain to work with. Why put up with this? The Open Graphics Project together with Traversal are making an open graphics card, that can be customised to suit your needs. We already have started with VGA and drivers for Linux, but we encourage development on other systems. We can add what you need to the chips we are developing. Your developers can read and learn from the existing drivers and work with us to produce the graphics you want for your project. Our Bios is completely open so your developers can learn from it and adapt it to work on your systems. Now your hardware designers and developers can be given greater freedom to design and drop the shackles that all your competitors are wearing.

Computer Users

Currently for Linux and operating systems other than Windows, you do not get the best graphics, and only some companies have provided drivers. While we welcome and encourage others efforts to provide you with freedom and choice, we all know that for a long time they ignored other operating systems and their current policies could easily change. We have watched in regret as some companies involved with open source have new management who do not get it. Your freedoms and open drivers could be lost with the next graphics card.

The Open Graphics Project's development is based upon open source. We recognise there are benefits from giving the enormous pool of developers who can use our cards, the freedom to innovate. The users of our cards are varied and diverse, and sometimes they use it in ways we would never have imagined but our shared interest makes for sound business. With wider testing and diverse applications, our design benefits from, and is based upon the open source model of development. We get it.


I'd like to help. What should I do?

We have achieved a lot but there's still plenty we can do. We want this to be the start of many Open Hardware projects that provide you with freedom. You can help us in three main ways:

Your Donations. We have partnered with the Linux Fund to raise money to produce 25 OGD1 boards, 10 of which will be given to developers around the world to advance the platform. We like to thank all of our donors who contributed $8,429 towards this effort. That's $3,429 past our goal! All additional donations will be used for shipping of boards to developers and future development.



Your Time. Documentation, translation, artwork and other items are listed on the Contributing to OGP page: What you might want to do is lurk for a while and if you gravitate towards something, grab it... And you could always post suggestions to the list. You can learn to develop in the different languages we use. We even have some tutorials to get you started with Verilog.

Your Expertise. Are you a developer with experience in Verilog, Linux, BSD or Windows? Because our project is open source, you can contribute to the hardware design, BIOS programming, software driver development or other coding projects such as working on more open source tools.

You can make a difference.


What is OGD?

OGD is the Development Board used by the Open Graphics Project. OGD1 refers to the PCI based development board which will soon be available from Traversal Technology, the company founded by members of the Open Graphics Project.

What is at the heart of the OGD card?

The OGD development boards implement a fairly powerful FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array). FPGA's are like the custom-made chips used in computers and other devices, but they can be reprogrammed at any time. This makes them wonderful for development, and hardware designs using them do not require high up-front costs to produce.

How can the OGD1 be used?

The OGP card is a powerful prototyping and development board, not a high powered graphics card for the end-user. Once the design is fleshed out and debugged, it will be fabbed as an ASIC (A special, custom made chip to implement our design) for lower per-part cost and higher performance,



What is OGA?

OGA is the Open Graphics Architecture. The RTL for OGA is already being released under a dual license (GPL and proprietary). Once the design is fleshed out and debugged, it will be fabbed as an ASIC for lower per-part cost and higher performance.


What is OGC?

OGC is the Open Graphics Card This card will be more suitable for end users. An ASIC chipset is planned


What is TRV10

A graphics card with OGA architecture sold by Traversal to the embedded market. Traversal Technology, the company founded by members of OGP have been contributing significant portions of code and employing the lead developer Timothy Miller and our Board designer Howard. By selling this graphics card to the embedded market they can support some of the developers who contribute to OGP and raise the funds toward an ASIC design.

See names and numbers for a list of nomenclature. Further refinements are expected.

Are we going to get the 'source' for what is on the FPGA also?

YES.

There are three different sets of "source code" that will be available:

Device Drivers

All device driver code (including BIOS) written for the OGP will be released under an MIT or X11 licenses to encourage code to be shared and used freely in both open and in proprietary software.

RTL for the FPGA-based product

  • The RTL is the closest equivalent that hardware designs have to "source code", it's a C-like language called Verilog that describes circuit paths in the chip. The RTL for the FPGA-based product (a prototyping and development board) is already being released under a dual license (GPL and proprietary).

RTL for the ASIC.

  • RTL for the ASIC will be released under a dual license (GPL and proprietary) There will be a time-delay on some parts (to deal with investor concerns over the $millions necessary to invest in fabrication), but once the investment is recouped, the code will be released. (We need a law firm to escrow the RTL for us, pro bono.)


What is the deal with the dual license?

In order for the hardware vendor |Traversal Technology to have a profitable business model (something necessary to be able to spend $millions on ASIC fabrication), they will need to retain the right to sell the RTL and designs of their hardware to other companies under a closed license. (This does not extend to the software drivers which are always open source, under BSD and MIT licenses.) This licensing model is the same as what Troll Tech (Qt), Xara Xtreme and MySQL use for their software. This gives them the ability to license code as they need to, while allowing public access to the same source code under the GPL license.

Patches submitted via email or the mailing list must be signed off with a release, indicating that Traversal Technology has rights to use that code under the dual-licensing scheme. Code that is submitted directly to the SVN is signed off implicitly (by your act of submitting it). Those wishing to patch the code under other terms might start their own project or pay royalties.

How much progress has been made?

At present, we are working on the host interface (PCI, AGP, etc.) and the VGA core. These have been released under a dual license (GPL and proprietary). Traversal, the company founded by members of the Open Graphics Project, is currently testing the development board OGD1, also to be released under a dual license (GPL and proprietary).

The first development completed (by Timothy Miller) was called the "model". This is C++ code that documents the math and algorithms used in the final chip. At the right phase of the project, the model will be rewritten in Verilog (a hardware description language) and incorporated into the rest of the chip design. Nicolai H�hnle used that to write a first cut of a simulator of the finished chip. Client programs can connect to the simulator and command it to do things, just as a driver would tell the OGP card what to do. A screenshot of the simulator is shown here:



Eventually, this code will be interfaced with Mesa 3D a software OpenGL implementation, to provide a better test environment, and perhaps serve as the first cut of a driver for the card. For more information on the simulator, have a look at OpengraphicsSimulator.

For more information see our Road Map


I thought VGA was legacy stuff and in the future we will not need it ?

We think so too but you need it for booting on an x86 with a standard bios. To us, VGA is legacy. Doing it the usual way would have been too invasive and wasteful. Also, we want eventually to do PCI bus-mastering, which requires some high-level control logic, typically implemented in a simple microcontroller. So we use a microcontroller with a dual purpose. When in VGA mode, the uC we designed (which we call HQ) intercepts and services all PCI traffic to OGD1. While VGA thinks it's 640x400, It's easily programmable, and we have complete control over how the text is processed into pixels; for instance, scaling or higher-res fonts different from what the host thinks we're using. We call it emulation because, in a way, our VGA is implemented entirely in software, albeit microcode that's loaded into our own microcontroller.


Will I be able to play Doom 3 with this hardware?

At the time of this writing, there is no graphics card on the market on which you can play Doom 3 well while using open source drivers. With about 6.4 gigabytes/second memory bandwidth, our target for running the Linux Quake benchmark on our development card with the OGA1 GPU, is a frame rate of between 20 and 30 FPS on Quake III at 1280x1024.Source OGPN17 Future planned cards include PCIe and faster memory which means our graphics processor will only become faster.

See OGPN17 for the capabilities and performance targets of our development card OGD1



Will this card support TV out??

Head 0 gives you a choice between DVI and analog.
Head 1 gives you a choice between DVI and TV.
Heads 0 and 1 are independent of each other.

So, the answer is yes: Use head 0 for the DVI and head 1 for the TV, and you're all set. Effectively head 0 is DVI-I and head 1 is DVI-D.


Both the NTSC and PAL standards should be supported (and potentially SECAM too if possible).

Also check the planned features


I don't see anything about DDC support?

Don't worry, DDC is a given these days.


How about PCI Express?

A PCI Express version will exist, though PCI versions will come first. At the time of writing, demand for AGP appears to be insufficient to get the volumes for manufacturing that we need. However, because the design is open you have the freedom to do this yourself - and we will help you to do it.


How about expandable memory, or a daughter board?

The hardware required to interface these add-ons costs _more_ money than whatever part you are trying to save on. In the interest of keeping cost down, expandable memory won't happen. However this design is Open Hardware and you could certainly make a board that interfaces with the IDC compatible pins on OGD1.


Why didn't you use some of XGI GPU's? They have open source drivers?

In parallel to this development, we called XGI and talked to them about letting us resell their chip. They never got back with us.


Okay. I want to do to help and I need to get at the source code. What do I do?

The source is stored in a Subversion repository.

Instructions on how to check something out can be found in the Development_Tools? page

NOTE: Anonymous users may download the source code and RTL and use it under the terms of the GPL license. Users who have write-access to the repository implicitly grant Traversal Technology "rights to use" under the dual license, when submitting changes to anything already under that dual license. (This is basically limited to the "model" and all RTL.)

Are there other mailing lists associated with this project?

Yes.

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