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Valve & Intel Collaborating On Open-Source Drivers

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the straining-out-the-blobs dept.

Intel 66

An anonymous reader writes "It looks like Valve's Linux team that's still growing has found much interest in open-source graphics drivers. Intel Linux graphics driver developers and Valve's Linux team were meeting for the past week to look at each other's code, work out performance goals, and collaborate on new features. Ian Romanick of Intel blogs, 'The funny thing is Valve guys say the same thing about drivers. There were a couple times where we felt like they were trying to convince us that open source drivers are a good idea. We had to remind them that they were preaching to the choir. :) Their problem with closed drivers (on all platforms) is that it's such a blackbox that they have to play guess-and-check games. There's no way for them to know how changing a particular setting will affect the performance. If performance gets worse, they have no way to know why. If they can see where time is going in the driver, they can make much more educated guesses.' Perhaps the companies are paying attention to Linus Torvalds' memo to NVIDIA?"

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Open but crap (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40716749)

Now if only their drivers weren't garbage with buggy OpenGL implementations.

Re:Open but crap (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40716865)

If that were true why don't my benchmark figures here [] show any issues with these supposed "garbage drivers". Framerate is very steady and smooth even for an HD4000.

Re:Open but crap -Above link is gay porn (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40716879)

Above link is gay porn

Re:Open but crap -Above link is gay porn (2, Funny)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 2 years ago | (#40719319)

Above link is gay porn

So why was it modded down?

Re:Open but crap (2, Informative)

pipeep (2106308) | about 2 years ago | (#40716905)

Parent is spam. Link is to porn.

Re:Open but crap (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40716977)

Parent is spam. Link is to porn.

Ahem. Gayporn

Re:Open but crap (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40717111)

Gay porn is still porn.

Re:Open but crap (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40717285)

Yes, and skull fucking is still sex, but I ain't interested in that either.

Re:Open but crap (1, Informative)

makomk (752139) | about 2 years ago | (#40716925)

There's more ways in which a driver can be buggy than poor framerate - such as graphical corruption, buggy shader compilers that crash, excessive CPU usage, ...

Re:Open but crap (1)

diego.viola (1104521) | about 2 years ago | (#40718663)

Fucking idiot.

Re:Open but crap (0, Offtopic)

Joce640k (829181) | about 2 years ago | (#40717517)

I've programmed graphics on Intel since they used to make proper graphics cards (back in the Permedia 2 days). Intel drivers have always been amongst the most reliable in my experience.

Re:Open but crap (1, Informative)

HarrySquatter (1698416) | about 2 years ago | (#40717635)

3DLABS not Intel developed the Permedia graphics cards.

Nexus 7 (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40716767)

At least with intel there wasn't an issue with google nexus 7's defective screens. The left side creaks and may evens shatter because it is a millimeter above the bevel. Google really dropped the ball on that one.

Re:Nexus 7 (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40716853)

I think somebody dropped the ball on your head. My Nexus 7 just got here and it's fantastic. By far the best tablet I've ever used. And at 249 plus tax for the 16 GB version it's the deal of the year to boot!

yeah right (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40716831)

If Intel gives a shit about open source graphics drivers, where are the open drivers for their Atom IGP?

Re:yeah right (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40716871)

If Intel gives a shit about open source graphics drivers, where are the open drivers for their Atom IGP?

Not to mention WiFi!

Re:yeah right (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40717041)

I have never had a problem with open wi-fi drivers from intel. They actually seem to be the best in the business in this regard.

Re:yeah right (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40717103)

So, where does one download these intel free software drivers, peabrain?

Who gives a fuck about proprietary crap!

Re:yeah right (4, Informative)

HarrySquatter (1698416) | about 2 years ago | (#40717129)

You don't need to download them from anywhere. They are in the mainline kernel.

Re:yeah right (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40717691)

I am not the AC above, but on our behalf I would like to apologize for our overreaction.

Re:yeah right (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40717965)

Combine those Intel wifi drivers with certain Cisco access points and you're asking for major asspain. They just do not cooperate. Atheros and Broadcom devices work just fine on those access points, but the Intel device wants to drop and re-negotiate every few minutes seconds. The same Intel device works just fine with every other access point it has been connected to.

Re:yeah right (1)

fluffythedestroyer (2586259) | about 2 years ago | (#40751105)

depends on how you configure those access points.. I know what the problem is exactly but it takes someone with a brain to know that...unfortunately for you, someone dropped a ball on your head.

Re:yeah right (4, Informative)

Kjella (173770) | about 2 years ago | (#40716909)

If Intel gives a shit about open source graphics drivers, where are the open drivers for their Atom IGP?

Licensed from PowerVR so not their IP, but next year it looks like they'll replace it with their in-house Ivy Bridge graphics in the "Valley View" Atoms. But if you got an Atom today and want good open source support, you're shit out of luck.

Re:yeah right (3, Informative)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 2 years ago | (#40717017)

I don't know exactly what they were thinking; but Intel's licensing of PowerVR GPUs somehow seemed to exclude video drivers that don't suck in any form, much less fully open. One would have thought that chipzilla could have gotten better terms, especially if they were planning a part for the embedded market...

The 'GMA500' and 'GMA600'(SGX 535, at different clock speeds) and 'GMA3600' and 'GMA3650'(SGX545, also differing in clock speed) all have tottering heaps of crap for drivers. Even if you don't care about license, they aren't exactly catching Nvidia in the 'actually works while tainting your kernel' department.

The rest of the GMAs are pretty unexciting; but are in-house designs and don't seem to have the same epic driver woes.

Re:yeah right (1)

JDG1980 (2438906) | about 2 years ago | (#40717237)

If Intel gives a shit about open source graphics drivers, where are the open drivers for their Atom IGP?

It's not their IGP, they just paid someone else to use it. That platform sucks anyway, so why do you care?

Re:yeah right (3, Informative)

hairyfeet (841228) | about 2 years ago | (#40720351)

Don't forget the PowerVR GPUs they used in several chipsets which last I checked are black box as well.

Lets face it folks, if you care about FOSS drivers you really only have one choice when it comes to GPUs, and that is AMD. they are opening up all their code as fast as their lawyers can sign off, they have gone coreboot over UEFI, it seems since taking over ATI that AMD has gone above and beyond trying to be FOSS friendly, even hiring devs to help the FOSS devs get up to speed quicker on the drivers.

So if the FOSS community wants FOSS drivers they need to put their money where their mouths are and buy AMD across the board. only by showing that supporting FOSS increases sales will you get other corps to sign off on opening up their drivers. The fact that damned near every forum talking about FOSS and GPUs ends up with a bazillion "LOL buy Nvidia" tells me that frankly you might as well accept binary blobs and a hardware API, because obviously the community doesn't care about FOSS over convenience.

Re:yeah right (1)

jvillain (546827) | about 2 years ago | (#40726009)

Go buy a HD7xxx based Southern Islands card and lets see if you still tell the same story. The last few generations have made it look like AMD was doing well by the open source community. But that was because what they opened up for the early cards mostly worked for later generations. But with Southern Islands it looks like we are SOL. Don't count on any documentation coming from AMD for their hardware going forward.

Re:yeah right (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | about 2 years ago | (#40727969)

Actually if you had simply gone to Phoronix or any other Linux news site they would have told you that they are currently up to the HD5xxx and the work has slowed since they are now also working to support the new APUs since they are putting out a lot of those in laptops, which are naturally more in demand right now than discretes.

Rome wasn't built in a day friend, and frankly if you are wanting to run hardware THAT new WTF are you doing in Linux anyway? Its not like any of the games currently on Linux is gonna benefit from a SI chip, at least not until Valve get Steam out for Linux. Instead I would go over to Geeks [] and pick up either the HD5450 or if you want more power the HD3870 X2. Both cards are well supported now and from what I've read the FOSS drivers up to the 6xxx series have been running nicely.

Preaching to the choir (2)

sick_uf_u (515976) | about 2 years ago | (#40716915)

Intel been too busy singing in harmony to open-source their drivers all these years.

Good news (2)

sl4shd0rk (755837) | about 2 years ago | (#40716961)

I've had a gamut of issues with openGL support on linux over the years. NVIDIA was the easiest to get working and by far the best support (in my experience anyway) but was by no means bug-free. Intel drivers and chipsets remain schizophrenic at best and let's not mention S3 or other laptop chipsets.

Hopefully these guys can add some weight into the push for better video support from both Intel and NVIDIA.

Re:Good news (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40717239)

I'm not here to flame, but does AMD not exist anymore? You said nothing of them, good or bad.

Re:Good news (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40717823)

AMD sucks in linux.

Re:Good news (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40718133)

I have an ATI card (now owned by AMD) and the only problem I have is that the frame rate is so high, it just LOOKS low-quality []

Re:Good news (1)

diego.viola (1104521) | about 2 years ago | (#40720065)

The radeon driver is pretty good, but I agree, the in-tree kernel drivers need more performance improvements for 3d rendering.

I'm talking about intel/radeon/nouveau, not the blobs (blobs need to die).

Re:Good news (1)

fluffythedestroyer (2586259) | about 2 years ago | (#40751191)

they got problems with opengl implementation. It takes extra work to make sure it works correctly.

Re:Good news (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | about 2 years ago | (#40717853)

AMD is really good, imo. The only issue I have it using my 40inch tv as a second monitor on an old laptop so get a few random glitches. I don't know if that's due to driver issues or my graphics card isn't quite up to the job.

That or (most likely) it's yet another Ubuntu 12.04 regression.

Re:Good news (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40720889)

AMD is really good, imo. The only issue I have it using my 40inch tv as a second monitor on an old laptop so get a few random glitches. I don't know if that's due to driver issues or my graphics card isn't quite up to the job.

Pain in the ass to setup, emulates the Windows registry instead of using the config file (ignores xorg.conf settings and prefers the fake registry unless you delete it first), some entries can only be set by using a command line tool to manipulate the fake registry. Lame 2D performance, crashes and full system hard-reboot-button lockups.

Re:Good news (1)

fluffythedestroyer (2586259) | about 2 years ago | (#40751299)

if it ignores your xorg.conf file then your X is glitches or your config is wrong. This is not normal. Usually, X is dependent enough to detect your hardware and doesn't need a xorg.conf file today so just install X then start it and it should run. if not, it should require some extra work to make sure it runs correctly. Super fast I would say you need to manually create an xorg.conf if you use the nouveau driver set with X and if its not created, you will have problems... and IDK what your talking about when you say xorg.conf and fake registry... linux doesn't have registry....

Erm (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40717367)

Graphics, Intel, Drivers (and better, driver quality - If I wanted to talk about shit drivers and behaviour, and utter suckage, Intel are *right'* there. Counter to this, their later stuff has been a bit better, but the HD3000/HD4000 are still poor in serious GFX work.

In Valve are serious about gaming on a linux base, it can't be at the ground zero of current Intel GFX. Well, it can - but I won't be the slightest bit interested.

Re:Erm (1)

Bengie (1121981) | about 2 years ago | (#40717475)

It was my understanding that Intel's graphics drivers are open-sourced along with the hardware specs. I thought the open-source philosophy is to fork and fix.

As much as I love opensource, I find it kind of funny/sad how the end users complain about getting open-source drivers and how open-source is so much better, then when the drivers are provided they just complain about how bad the drivers are.

Re:Erm (3, Interesting)

ZeroSumHappiness (1710320) | about 2 years ago | (#40717607)

Agreed, this is about Valve and Intel /teaming up/ to make their drivers /better/. Intel hasn't had the man-hours or budget to work on graphics that NVIDIA has had over the years? They've only started caring about gaming-class graphics what, two years ago, if that? Now that they do care and now that they're going to town with a first rate gaming group maybe they'll get better than NVIDIA and AMD really quickly. In fact, though, they don't need to get even to the same level as NVIDIA and AMD to be on my radar -- they just have to beat two or three generation old graphics, since I tend to play three or four generation old games -- I /just/ got Mirror's Edge and I'll be running it on an NVIDIA 400-series card. If Intel can beat the 500-series by the time I build a new computer I'm not buying a discrete graphics card for it.

Re:Erm (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40717697)

Agreed, yes, if they're open sourced but they think the drivers suck... well.. the source is available: go ahead and make them better!

I don't understand this philosophy of "we want open, we want everything and we wanted chewed and in our mouths... and we want it for free". Seems like many people are on the "I want I want I want" side of things but never contribute to anything. If you don't give back... and you don't understand how it works... then don't complain!

Re:Erm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40718727)

Fuck you.

Re:Erm (1)

Azure Flash (2440904) | about 2 years ago | (#40719199)

Because, of course, every Linux user or gamer is expected to be capable of driver and kernel programming.

Re:Erm (1)

Deorus (811828) | about 2 years ago | (#40720193)

Open-source is a paradigm for developers, not users. Users are not supposed to care (and they really don't). If you care about open-source then you are a developer expecting the ability to at least read the source code for the software that you are using; in any other case your concern is irrational.

Re:Erm (1)

Lennie (16154) | about 2 years ago | (#40723827)

Open Source might not be about users, but the GPL is.

Actually the GPL doesn't care so much about developers, it just cares about users.

If the users don't like the developers, the users should be able to take the code and get other developers (probably paid) or themselfs to work on it.

Re:Erm (1)

wrook (134116) | about 2 years ago | (#40805833)

See this is the tricky part. Free software is a movement dedicated towards customers. It grants more freedoms to customers than they otherwise would have. If you buy (or are given for free) software that is Free as in "freedom", you can do more things than you can with software that is not Free. Though somewhat ironic, more developers care about free software than non-developers. Partially this is because the freedoms that you get as a customer are mostly useful if you are a developer. As many developers are also customers, they understand these freedoms more than non-developers.

The open source world is very similar to the free software world. The main difference is that open source advocates noticed early on that not only did software freedom help customers, but it led to many advantages for the original developer. Many open source advocates sold the idea as being "pragmatic" for developers. It doesn't mean that customers don't also get benefits, but the main selling point was "pragmatism" and value for the original developers.

So we have a situation where users customers can benefit from software freedom, and the original developers can benefit from open development using a consortium-like model with low barriers to entry. Unfortunately, there are some losers. These are the businessmen who insist on adhering to business models that are incompatible with free and open source software. There are others who complain that many free software models do not allow them piggy back on the work of the original authors to produce competing, closed products. Hopefully those losers will start to see the benefits and adjust their approaches.

Re:Erm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40718189)

TBH though, in this case, it really has more to do with the fact that Intel's chips just aren't as high performers.
How many times have you see a Windows 7 computer with Aero turned off and immediately thought 'Intel Graphics'?

Re:Erm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40719229)

I think the detail you may have missed is that there exists more than one person. If you hear an opinion from one person and then a different opinion from another, it doesn't mean that everyone has done a U-turn, it means that not all people are identical. Hope that helps.

Re:Erm (4, Insightful)

Gadget_Guy (627405) | about 2 years ago | (#40717787)

In Valve are serious about gaming on a linux base, it can't be at the ground zero of current Intel GFX. Well, it can - but I won't be the slightest bit interested.

Well Valve can't be serious about Windows gaming either, because even their most recent games still run pretty well on Intel graphics.

Re:Erm (2)

Jonner (189691) | about 2 years ago | (#40718923)

In Valve are serious about gaming on a linux base, it can't be at the ground zero of current Intel GFX. Well, it can - but I won't be the slightest bit interested.

Well Valve can't be serious about Windows gaming either, because even their most recent games still run pretty well on Intel graphics.

Valve seems to understand better than many game developers that pretty frames that take a lot of GPU power to render do not necessarily make good games.

Re:Erm (5, Insightful)

gman003 (1693318) | about 2 years ago | (#40719929)

To put it more succinctly:

Valve understands that a *fun* game will be fun. As long as the graphics are good enough to support the gameplay, the ame will be fun whether you're running it at 2006-era graphics or at 2016-era graphics.

Valve understands this. They make a fun game, then make it run on the lowest hardware they expect will be commonplace. They design their system to be scalable. They allow features to be disabled, have an extensive set of shader fallbacks. Examine this somewhat-outdated wiki page [] detailing the features enabled and disabled for each DirectX level in the original Half-Life 2. That's no longer current, I believe - they patched it to use a newer engine revision that I think dropped support for some of the lower levels, and I know it added higher ones.

I have played that game many times on many different computers. It was fun on my Athlon 3000, Radeon X700 build. It's fun on my dual-Xeon, Radeon X1900 rig. It was fun on my Core 2 Duo, GeForce 9600M laptop. It was fun on my Phenom II X3, Radeon 4830 build. It would probably be fun on this new Core i7, GeForce 660M laptop, but I haven't replayed it yet on this.

The only machine it wasn't fun on? My ancient Pentium II, Rage Pro laptop, and that was because it glitched like crazy - corrupted textures, BSOD after a few minutes. The machine just could not handle some of the things that were actually necessary for gameplay - the Havok physics (used in puzzles), the fade-in shaders (used for one-way gates), the dynamic lights (used to highlight gunfire). Remove those, and it wouldn't have been a fun game, so Valve just didn't remove it.

But the rest? Water refract/reflect shaders? Rim lighting? Normal maps? Soft shadows? Turn them off if necessary. They don't make the game less fun. Less immersive, perhaps - that's why they have them as an option - but the fun doesn't change.

And the fun is what is important.

Re:Erm (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40720095)

I wouldn't call that succinct, but it was insightful, interesting and verbose.

Re:Erm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40723037)

Oh, but it WAS succinct. If it were that, I can assure you that it'd been a War and Peace sized post- because the subject could be conveyed that way.

Re:Erm (1)

gman003 (1693318) | about 2 years ago | (#40727045)

Indeed, that *was* succinct for me.

A man once asked me what OpenBSD was. I responded with a thousand-word history of UNIX, AT&T, Berkeley University, Linux, a rundown of the various *BSD forks, a brief bit about Steve Jobs (NeXT and OS X, mainly), and even a small paragraph on non-BSD Unices.

They should put me in a video game, because I am *crazy* good at blurting out random information dumps and exposition.

Re:Erm (1)

fluffythedestroyer (2586259) | about 2 years ago | (#40751431)

support old level directx and shader and you'll have to spend more man hours and create a team just to make sure your game runs correctly with those. Add the higher support directx level and you got another team. Just look at the market on what people currently have and make the math. In the end, they would spend more money if they support both and old and new "technology". They have to drop the old stuff. It sucks for people who doesn't have high grade directx hardware but the team can concentrate more on their current directx level so technically speaking, everyone wins while some are sacrificed for now.

Re:Erm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40718871)

Or it's just that the Intel hardware is not better than that. The drivers cannot fix everything regardless of how good they are.

Intel video and gaming in the same story (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | about 2 years ago | (#40719645)

If you want to improve intel, make a graphics processor that dosent get it ass beat down by a 40$ 6 year old geforce

Re:Intel video and gaming in the same story (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40723025)

That GPU already exists, it's called the HD4000 and it's available on Ivy Bridge CPUs. According to Phoronix tests, it makes current sub-$100 cards useless. Sure, it won't beat the current crop of top-of-the-line cards from NVidia or ATi, but Intel is steadily becoming a serious player. (-1)

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3? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40721593)

So Valve is in on this now? Don't expect to see more than two releases.

Hrm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40722793)

As a game server admin who has been patching Valve's exploitfest of a dedicated server for years.. this worries me.

Re:Hrm (1)

fluffythedestroyer (2586259) | about 2 years ago | (#40751471)

your worried that valve releases patch to fix those exploits.. lol your funny.

intel is not your friend (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40723535)

this is a PR STUNT. no way ur going to play any modern first person-shooter in 1080p with decent framerates on intel crapfics.
failing with larabee, the cheap way is to "force" nvidia / amd to opensource their drivers, from which it is then easy for intel to revers-engineer their own decent gpu hardware.
intel is using all means possible including hoodwinking steam and the shortsighted open source community to their end.
for those that don't know, to develop a gpu chip a special computer needs to be built, and it's not x86.
this is what C3PO is referring to when he exclaims:"machines building machines".
duuuummb people.

Re:intel is not your friend (1)

fluffythedestroyer (2586259) | about 2 years ago | (#40751503)

nvidia and amd already got open source drivers. It's just not supported well enough. Understandable as to why a company would release the whole source code to the community.

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