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Advanced Micro Devices’ graphics product group has announced a major strategic initiative to support the open source development community for ATI Radeon graphics processors. The move will help to popularize ATI hardware that has been heavily criticized for the lack of proper Linux display driver among those who use “alternative” operating systems, but will also oblige AMD to release certain specs of ATI’s graphics chips.

The week of September 10th, AMD plans to provide an open source information and development package supporting the ATI Radeon HD 2000 series as well as ATI Radeon X1000 series of graphics processing units (GPU) on Linux desktops. To accelerate this initiative, AMD partnered with Novell’s SuSE Linux engineering team. The initial release includes source code and hardware specifications to engage the open source community for collaboration on 2D graphics drivers. Over the following months, AMD will work with the community to enable 2D, 3D and video playback acceleration to provide the best possible experience on the Linux desktop.

As part of the process AMD consulted with leading members of the open source community and the X.org community to ensure that the driver addressed the needs of both open source developers and Linux users. Most importantly, the release of these specifications will allow the development community to partner with AMD to drive new innovations for the Linux desktop. AMD will provide on going support for this project with an in-house development team.

Modern graphics processing units (GPUs) are very complex devices that require proprietary drivers to work efficiently. Both GPUs and drivers contain a lot of know-how information that is crucial for products’ performance and hence success on the market. Once released publicly, secrets of ATI, AMD’s graphics product group, may be obtained by its competitors and used to compete against AMD. Nevertheless, the struggling maker of central processing units, graphics chips and multimedia processors believes that efficient ATI Radeon drivers developed by members of open-source community

for Linux operating system, which is used on 1% to 3% of desktops, are more important than potential risk of releasing specifications to the whole world.

“AMD has a proven track record of collaboration with the software eco-system to support the needs of the Open Source community,” said Phil Hester, Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer at AMD. “With this announcement we’re demonstrating our commitment to respond to the needs of the open source community and adopt a consistent approach across CPU and GPU technologies. By supporting open source drivers on our industry-leading ATI Radeon graphics processors we accelerate innovation across the entire AMD platform.”

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