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SubjectRe: HARDWARE: Open-Source-Friendly Graphics Cards -- Viable?

John Ripley wrote:

> It would also really reduce the cost and effort involved in producing the
> card. It wouldn't take much (heh) to get it up and running as a simple frame
> buffer + blitter, but it could be scaled to do fancy multi-texture ops over
> time - all just by reprogramming the FPGA. All the manufacturer needs to
> provide is a "getting started" FPGA file and output to a video DAC. The
> community would do the rest over time.
> I think "Open" hardware is one thing, but open *and* completely
> reprogrammable is a far greater hook, at least for me. I'd be prepared to
> shell out a few $100 for something as hackable as that. Hey, it's an FPGA on
> a PCI Express card at the end of the day, what can't you do with it!

Ok, I'll bite. What you're suggesting is that instead of developing
just a graphics card, I should develop a card populated with a bunch of
FPGA's that's reprogrammable. Putting aside the logic design tool issue
(which may be difficult), what you'd get is a very expensive
reprogrammable card with some RAM and some video output hardware.

How much would you pay for THIS card? $2000?

Now, the thing is, this card is SO generic that Tech Source would have
very little value-add. Say we populate it with a bunch of Spartan 3
400's... well, you'd download Xilinx's WebPack, code up your design in
Verilog (Do you want to learn chip design??? It's not like programming
in C!!!), and then use our open source utility to upload your code.

GREAT... until some other company comes along and clones it, which would
be WAY too easy to do. Now, for the users of this sort of product, it's
a fine thing. But it becomes a pointless investment for Tech Source,
which is where I work and who pays me to work on this stuff, which they
wouldn't do if it's not worth it.

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