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    SubjectRe: HARDWARE: Open-Source-Friendly Graphics Cards -- Viable?
    Timothy Miller wrote:

    > I can produce more detail later, but first, some characteristics and
    > advantages of what I'm proposing:
    >
    > - x86 BIOS/OpenBoot/OpenFirmware code under BSD and GPL license
    > - kernel drivers under BSD and GPL license
    > - X11 module under MIT license
    > - flashable PROM so that boot code can be added for more platforms
    > - usable as the console on any platform that can take a PCI, AGP, or
    > PCI-Express card
    > - downloadable schematic for the circuit board
    > - FPGA-based graphics engine so it's reprogrammable
    > - instructions on how to reprogram the FPGA, so it's hackable
    > - if we discontinue a product, we may release the Verilog code for the FPGA
    > - Since this is designed to be open-source-friendly, we want to play by
    > the rules of the open-source community.
    > - Tech Source would actively participate in the development and
    > maintenance of our own drivers.
    > - We will actually pay attention to problems and concerns raised by
    > users and developers.
    > - We won't be control-freaks.

    > I haven't worked out a complete design spec for this product. The
    > reason is that what we think people want and what people REALLY want may
    > not be congruent. If you have a good idea for a piece of graphics
    > hardware which you think would be beneficial to the free software
    > community (and worth it for a company to produce), then Tech Source, as
    > a graphics company, might be willing to sell it.
    >
    >

    You might want to take a look at the onboard video market. Providing an
    open-source 2D rendering engine and the PCI glue logic that work on an
    FPGA would probably revolutionize embedded PC applicatiuons that rely on
    a graphical interface. Providing support to motherboard manufaturers
    who might want a low-cost onboard video solution (micro-ITX, etc) is
    another possibility.

    You also might want to look at PC/104 and CompactPCI form factors - I
    think the industrial market will be a great target, and, after all, if
    you have to move 80% industrial equipment to justify the 20% AGP sales,
    it makes good sense. There might even be a market for ISA, SBus, and
    MCA cards, for people stuck supporting seriously old machines (386, 486,
    SPARC) where it's almost impossible to find working graphics cards.
    Even if it's a DOS machine, hardware is hardware, and a brand-new VL-bus
    card for someone's 486 would be pretty cool :)

    My $0.02
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