Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Valve Finds Open Source Drivers To Be Great

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the like-peanut-butter-and-chocolate dept.

Intel 159

An anonymous reader writes "Intel's Open-Source Technology Center was given source-code access to Valve's Left 4 Dead 2 game in order to help them fix Linux bugs and to better optimize their graphics driver to this forthcoming Linux native game on the Source Engine. Intel has talked about their Valve Linux development experiences and now they managed to get Left 4 Dead 2 running on their open-source graphics driver. Valve also has grown fond of open-source hardware drivers: 'Valve Linux developers have also been happy looking at an open-source graphics driver. Valve Linux developers found it equally thrilling that now when hitting a bottleneck in their game or looking for areas for performance optimizations, they are simply able to look into Intel's open-source Linux graphics driver to understand how an operation is handled by the hardware, tossing some extra debugging statements into the Intel driver to see what's happening, and making other driver tweaks.'"

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Valve finds Intel's driver to be great. (5, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | about 2 years ago | (#41191715)

Of the GPUs available, Intel has by far the best open source driver. They don't even bother supplying a proprietary one. However, intel GPUs suck, and gamers will have either a nVidia card or an AMD card. There are open source drivers for both of these, but they both suck far worse than the Intel driver.

I really hope Valve can talk either AMD or nVidia into doing something about the quality of their open source drivers. But I'm not holding my breath. Chances are they'll just release a Steam box with Intel hardware instaed.

Expected (1)

aliquis (678370) | about 2 years ago | (#41191805)

Since they are kick ass.

Even for performance.

Too bad afaik Intel doesn't do any consumer graphic hardware which is as kick ass as Nvidias and ATIs though.

But yeah, watch Phoronix for Linux Intel OpenGL drivers vs others.

Re:Valve finds Intel's driver to be great. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41191813)

AMD has released open source drivers; Nvidia releases binary blobs to keep that obscurity warm blanket feeling.

Re:Valve finds Intel's driver to be great. (2)

Hatta (162192) | about 2 years ago | (#41192189)

AMD released open source drivers, but they suck. If you want performance, you have to use the Catalyst drivers.

Re:Valve finds Intel's driver to be great. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41194223)

Do you have benchmarks to quantify how much they suck?

Re:Valve finds Intel's driver to be great. (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about 2 years ago | (#41192501)

What AMD releases is not considered a driver by many... a driver has to WORK to be called a driver. AMD releases a blob of code they hop that fairy dust and magic will coalesce into a driver.

Re:Valve finds Intel's driver to be great. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41193135)

The xf86-video-ati drivers work fine, I'm not sure I understand all the hate on the OSS ATI/AMD driver.

Re:Valve finds Intel's driver to be great. (1)

bhcompy (1877290) | about 2 years ago | (#41191827)

Whatever happened to Matrox? They were the Linux darlings for the longest time.

Re:Valve finds Intel's driver to be great. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41192347)

I owned Matrox's last competitive gaming card, and that was in 1998. You would be better off with Intel, seriously.

Re:Valve finds Intel's driver to be great. (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 2 years ago | (#41192425)

If memory serves, they haven't been OSS friendly in a while and the cards for which unofficial drivers exist are mostly antiques at this point.

(Probably more fundamentally, they fell badly behind in the performance wars, and digital video interfaces made their reputation for quality high-resolution analog output less relevant, and retreated into specialist multiheaded/2d workstation/display wall/etc. gear. I don't know how well regarded they are in that market; but it just isn't a very big one compared to consumer PCs and workstations that need graphical punch. You can't even find a laptop with a Matrox chip in it, and their discrete cards are alarmingly expensive unless your needs and their features align very closely.)

Re:Valve finds Intel's driver to be great. (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about 2 years ago | (#41192509)

"Whatever happened to Matrox? "

They shoved their heads way way deep inside their rectum. Nowdays all they make are medicore multi head cards.

Re:Valve finds Intel's driver to be great. (2)

Grishnakh (216268) | about 2 years ago | (#41192947)

I'm really curious how they manage to stay in business like that.

Re:Valve finds Intel's driver to be great. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41193021)

I'm guessing all their other stuff, hardware and software not directly related to their graphics cards, is what's bringing in the dough these days.

Re:Valve finds Intel's driver to be great. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41194135)

They sell to companies that don't need strong graphic performance, but do want lots of monitors. From the ridiculously high prices, I assume it is to stock market companies or banks.

Re:Valve finds Intel's driver to be great. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41192633)

I couldn't even find who last worked on the linux drivers while I was working there.

nowadays they subconctract a huge part of production and design gpus, commercial cameras and video gear.

Re:Valve finds Intel's driver to be great. (1)

Zimluura (2543412) | about 2 years ago | (#41191921)

I don't think nVidia or AMD has a direct hand in the opensource drivers for their respective cards. It's my understanding that nVidia has done nothing to help and AMD has contributed information, but not elbow grease.

I think, at the moment, nVidia's (closed source) Linux driver is as solid an OpenGL implementation as you can get on Linux. But it's far from supporting other baseline linux driver features (no DRI, and no 1st party support for hybrid graphics spring to mind).

Re:Valve finds Intel's driver to be great. (2)

Zimluura (2543412) | about 2 years ago | (#41192005)

edit: it seems AMD does contribute code to the opensource driver. I stand corrected.

Re:Valve finds Intel's driver to be great. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41194281)

They have five people permanently employed to work on the open source driver.

How you get modded to 1 and 2 is beyond me.

Seriously, slashdot, it's even on wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graphics_hardware_and_FOSS#ATI.2FAMD

AMD had just two engineers working full time on the free drivers, namely Alex Deucher and Richard Li, although they decided to work to expand their free graphics team.[13] They recently hired three more developers, with one of the developers going to be working on the desktop graphics stack and the other two on embedded open-source priorities.[14] The developers in question have now been confirmed to be veteran graphics coders Michel Dänzer (taking over from Richard) and Christian König[15], as well as Tom Stellard.

Re:Valve finds Intel's driver to be great. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41193915)

Your right about this. nVidia is particularly bad about Linux driver support, at least for desktop graphic cards. AMD sometimes volunteers important information, but it's been awhile since I've seem them contribute much to the open source drivers. Majority of the information used in open source drivers comes from poking and prodding at the devices until some unknown is figured out or everyone looses steam and moves on to the next thing.

Re:Valve finds Intel's driver to be great. (5, Interesting)

gman003 (1693318) | about 2 years ago | (#41191959)

A gaming box with *current* Intel hardware would suck. But that's primarily because the current Intel "GPUs" are integrated onto the CPU die, and are only "good enough" .

I wonder how well Intel's performance would scale up. If they took their basic design, and used 600-1600 render cores instead of 6-16. I mean, a top-of-the-line card from nVidia or AMD has *thousands* of cores spread between two dies, while Intel is cramming a dozen cores into whatever space is left on the CPU die. Let them put out a full-size card, put a few gigs of dedicated memory and cache on it, and see what happens. We won't know for sure until it's tried, but rendering tends to be a pretty scalable problem.

If Intel *does* do that, they would be a likely candidate for the hypothesized SteamBox console, since they seem to be working *very* closely with Valve.

Re:Valve finds Intel's driver to be great. (1)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about 2 years ago | (#41192385)

One minor dispute from me: If their main target is a SteamBox console, why make a full-size card? I'll take onboard graphics if the chip on the main board is as powerful as a contemporary daughterboard.

Re:Valve finds Intel's driver to be great. (3, Informative)

Baloroth (2370816) | about 2 years ago | (#41192615)

It'd have to be "discrete" anyways, even if it is integrated into the board. There isn't enough room or thermal overhead to put the necessary power on the same die as the CPU, which is what modern Intel graphics does.

Re:Valve finds Intel's driver to be great. (1)

nschubach (922175) | about 2 years ago | (#41192759)

I read your post and I just imagined a flat cable of wires sticking out of the CPU that requires yet another special connector from the PSU to use it. ;)

Re:Valve finds Intel's driver to be great. (1)

bhcompy (1877290) | about 2 years ago | (#41193759)

Isn't that what AMD does with their new APUs(which are fairly robust, more than Intel graphics at least)?

Re:Valve finds Intel's driver to be great. (1)

gman003 (1693318) | about 2 years ago | (#41192729)

By "full-size card" I meant "full-size die". I have a tendency to use "video card" for things that aren't actually cards - it's easier to say than "GPU", and makes it more clear that I'm referring to the actual processor plus any attached memory.

Logically, though, it would be either on the motherboard, or worst-case attached as an MXM card.

However, I would like to see Intel try to crack into the consumer graphics card market again. And once they have the chip die designed, it's not particularly difficult to put it on a PCIe card and sell it as a separate product.

Re:Valve finds Intel's driver to be great. (1)

Kjella (173770) | about 2 years ago | (#41193557)

I think the main reason Intel would never release a discrete graphics card at this stage is because that'd make it obvious how silly it is to buy both an integrated and discrete GPU as everyone building an Intel gaming PC do today. To not look really stupid they'd have to release a GPU-less CPU to pair with their discrete GPU (apart from the overpriced LGA2011 CPUs to go with the overpriced X79 motherboards) and that'd let AMD and nVidia back into a market that Intel is making a killing off now - using their CPU dominance to put their GPU in every processor, whether you want it or not. Their market share is 62% [xtreview.com] now and on a rising trend, why risk your cash cow? They basically got a free pass to gently prod AMD and nVidia out of the market without anyone shouting antitrust.

Long term, it's clearly the way for Intel to go. nVidia has no CPU so if Intel keeps their CPU dominance they'll get their profits anyway. They'll even get a free graphics "sale" if the gamer sells the rig minus the gaming cards. Turning it into an APU war with AMD means their CPU and GPU division will rise and fall together, and to be honest in AMDs case I fear one will drag the other down with them. Certainly the odds of them having two stellar parts that steal market share from Intel is less, it makes it harder to change the status quo which is in favor Intel. No, their guns are all pointing at the lower end of the scale, smartphones and tablets.

The graphics market is in my opinion in a solid squeeze on both ends, from Intel on the low end and lack of progress in displays on the high end. Even with all the fancy shaders, graphics cards are still only pushing ~2M pixels on a 1920x1200/1080 screen and high resolution monitors are nowhere but in the rMPB. Like for example before SLI/CF was a really big thing, today you only need it if you're really on the extreme end. Hopefully we can get 4K gaming, that'd at least fire up the high end again...

Re:Valve finds Intel's driver to be great. (2)

gman003 (1693318) | about 2 years ago | (#41194277)

Except gamers are already used to having an integrated GPU that goes to waste.

Myself, I have an Intel HD in my CPU, which is currently never used because I've got a whopping GeForce 660M next to it*. Several of my other computers, even desktops, have integrated graphics that are completely wasted.

What would be useful is if you could SLI/CF (or whatever Intel wants to call it) the integrated GPU with the discrete. I've been told the AMD Fusion CPU/GPU chips can CrossFire with a discrete Radeon, although I've not tested it myself.

AMD is also very vulnerable right now. They're dead in the water on the desktop, and not doing too well on the small server front. Meanwhile they're starting to slip against nVidia - they haven't failed, not yet, but they're beginning to. Their last holdouts are mass number-crunching (which Bulldozer is actually good at, it seems) and their CPU-with-powerful-integrated-graphics Fusion "APUs". If Intel can take down Fusion, and help nVidia take down Radeon, then AMD is left as a bit player in the CPU market, occupying a small niche like VIA, Sun and IBM.

* When I ever get around to installing Linux on this thing, I may end up using the Intel GPU instead, simply because the drivers are better (and any task I'm doing in Linux won't be graphically-intensive enough to need the massive power-hog discrete card).

Re:Valve finds Intel's driver to be great. (3, Interesting)

TheNinjaroach (878876) | about 2 years ago | (#41192237)

Chances are they'll just release a Steam box with Intel hardware instaed.

I don't see that happening. Instead, I see Valve partnering with one of the "real" GPU companies (AMD or NVidia) and co-operating with them in the same manner. In NVidia's case, I see them signing enough NDAs to get access to the closed-source driver code.

Re:Valve finds Intel's driver to be great. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41192713)

I have an intel HD3000 chip and an i3 in my laptop. I was really pleasantly surprised when they would run TF2 (and every other Valve game), Skyrim and a bunch of other things pretty well. I'm not talking ultra graphics, but mid to low settings, full resolution was pretty flawless. The initial intel chips sucked, but they're really making good progress.

Re:Valve finds Intel's driver to be great. (4, Insightful)

Grishnakh (216268) | about 2 years ago | (#41192927)

Intel GPUs don't "suck", they're just not as high-performance as the others. They're perfectly adequate for most uses, and getting better all the time.

This is like saying a Toyota Camry sucks; no, it's not a Ferrari, but it's highly reliable and performs perfectly adequately for most drivers.

Re:Valve finds Intel's driver to be great. (3, Funny)

Hatta (162192) | about 2 years ago | (#41193667)

When speed matters, both Intel GPUs and Toyotas suck.

Re:Valve finds Intel's driver to be great. (1)

jedidiah (1196) | about 2 years ago | (#41193929)

> Intel GPUs don't "suck", they're just not as high-performance as the others.

This is a thread about GAMES, not what your grandma uses to surf the web. Intel GPUs do indeed SUCK. They suck so much that sometimes they aren't supported by a major studio at all.

It's all about context and not ignoring it.

Re:Valve finds Intel's driver to be great. (1)

randallman (605329) | about 2 years ago | (#41193039)

I have an i5 Sandy Bridge on Xubuntu LTS with xorg-edgers (latest graphics drivers from git). After reading this and following articles pointing to tests using this GPU, I found http://www.xonotic.org/ [xonotic.org] , which is quite an impressive OSS game. I played it at 1920x1080 with Normal effects and it looked stunning with no apparent stutter. Though I'm sure there are plenty of recent games that would bring this GPU to its knees, it seems to be up to the task for moderate gaming.

Re:Valve finds Intel's driver to be great. (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about 2 years ago | (#41193235)

Modern Intel GPUs are quite good, relatively speaking. A core i3 sandy bridge (HD2000) will play most recent games decently.

Its no discrete solution, but theyre everywhere and they perform well enough under Linux.

Re:Valve finds Intel's driver to be great. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41193363)

It's interesting that Intel chose the OSS route to stay relevant in the Linux gfx card market. If and when Steam comes out for linux, this will help Intel a lot more than having closed drivers ever would have.

Cooperation is a nice thing (2)

Tei (520358) | about 2 years ago | (#41191727)

Mixing free software and commercial software can sometimes work wonders. Sadly sometimes is a misunderstood thing.

Yes, we get it. (-1, Troll)

not already in use (972294) | about 2 years ago | (#41191809)

Funny how Valve just *loves* Linux now that Microsoft threatens their primary business model. Meanwhile, John Carmack, who supported Linux before it was trendy and cool and has no financial incentive to shit all over Microsoft claims that Linux is not a good platform for games. Gee, I wonder who I should believe?!?!

What? This story isn't about Linux (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41191891)

Open Source != Linux

In case you are not familiar with basic programming/math syntax, the above means that the two are not the same.

Re:What? This story isn't about Linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41192009)

Oh, so this story isn't about Linux! Must be why "Linux" appears no less than 6 times in it.

Re:What? This story isn't about Linux (2)

not already in use (972294) | about 2 years ago | (#41192079)

Open source drivers for what platform, now? Less knee-jerks, more summary.

Re:What? This story isn't about Linux (4, Insightful)

Baloroth (2370816) | about 2 years ago | (#41192653)

The fact that the open source drivers are on Linux isn't really important to the story at all, asides from the background (i.e. that is the reason Valve are working with open source drivers to max out performance in the first place). The interesting thing is how the OSS allows Valve to tweak or examine the driver code on the fly to find out how to optimize performance.

Reading the summary is great, but understanding the point is even better.

Re:What? This story isn't about Linux (3, Informative)

not already in use (972294) | about 2 years ago | (#41192781)

The interesting thing is how the OSS allows Valve to tweak or examine the driver code on the fly to find out how to optimize performance.

Anyone who *actually* games wants to know who the fuck cares about underpowered Intel video card drivers. Oh, it will be able to play 5 year old Valve games? WHOOPTY-FUCKING-DOO.

Perhaps you forgot about the time, years ago, when the FOSS crowd courted ATI, saying "Release your specs! The FOSS community will do the rest!" What did ATI do? They released the specs. An opensource driver was born, and it's an unstable, slow piece of shit. When these FOSS folks realized they weren't technically competent enough to actually create a driver for a modern GPU architecture, they went back to demonizing ATI for not releasing their proprietary driver under a free license.

What's the moral of the story here? Just because something is open source doesn't mean "the community" is going to be able to do shit about it. Intel wants to point and say, "Look! Intel GPU can play 5 year old valve games!" Valve wants to say, "Look, Linux is a viable gaming platform!" At the end of the day, it's totally irrelevant to people who want to play new games on modern GPU's.

Re:What? This story isn't about Linux (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41192955)

So you don't think that Valve will try to work with AMD and NVIDIA on improving their drivers?

Remember most successful FOSS contributions come from industry, not from hobbyists.

Re:What? This story isn't about Linux (2)

jedidiah (1196) | about 2 years ago | (#41193945)

Also, you don't have to provide patches. You can also provide good bug reports. These are talented experienced graphics programmers that like to push hardware to it's limits. They are likely to "break things" and kind of know what's going on. They can share this information with the people who need to know.

That could be the community or that could be Nvidia.

Re:What? This story isn't about Linux (4, Insightful)

maeglin (23145) | about 2 years ago | (#41192975)

The interesting thing is how the OSS allows Valve to tweak or examine the driver code on the fly to find out how to optimize performance.

Anyone who *actually* games wants to know who the fuck cares about underpowered Intel video card drivers. Oh, it will be able to play 5 year old Valve games? WHOOPTY-FUCKING-DOO.

Perhaps you forgot about the time, years ago, when the FOSS crowd courted ATI, saying "Release your specs! The FOSS community will do the rest!" What did ATI do? They released the specs. An opensource driver was born, and it's an unstable, slow piece of shit. When these FOSS folks realized they weren't technically competent enough to actually create a driver for a modern GPU architecture, they went back to demonizing ATI for not releasing their proprietary driver under a free license.

What's the moral of the story here? Just because something is open source doesn't mean "the community" is going to be able to do shit about it. Intel wants to point and say, "Look! Intel GPU can play 5 year old valve games!" Valve wants to say, "Look, Linux is a viable gaming platform!" At the end of the day, it's totally irrelevant to people who want to play new games on modern GPU's.

You are clearly not a big picture person. What this means is that a multi-million dollar company is saving time by using open source. Time saved is money saved, and, using political algebra, every dollar saved is 30 jobs. What did Intel lose? Nothing. Meanwhile, the economy as a whole gains GDP and everyone wins.

But, absolutely, you're right, and the other guy is wrong: this is all useless because you don't like Valve's game line-up.

Re:What? This story isn't about Linux (2)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about 2 years ago | (#41193345)

Anyone who *actually* games wants to know who the fuck cares about underpowered Intel video card drivers

Starcraft 2 is 5 years old? Torchlight 1 / 2 are 5 years old? League of Legends is 5 years old? I suppose you could label TF2 and WoW as 5 years old, but that kind of ignores the whole "still actively developed" thing.

All of those work just fine on an underpowered Core i3 2310m, using HD3000. Current gen Ivy Bridge processors are expected to deliver ~10-15% better performance, and IIRC the HD4000 line is ~50% more performance over the 3000.

Re:What? This story isn't about Linux (4, Insightful)

Baloroth (2370816) | about 2 years ago | (#41193393)

Anyone who *actually* games wants to know who the fuck cares about underpowered Intel video card drivers. Oh, it will be able to play 5 year old Valve games? WHOOPTY-FUCKING-DOO.

Again, NOT THE POINT. The point is: open source drivers are easier to work with. Creating one for a graphics card yourself? Hard. Writing drivers is always a bitch, thats why they often don't work right (even the closed source ones creating by the people who made the hardware in the first place). Thats why the ATI open source driver kind of sucks. Graphics cards have a ton of out-of-spec tweaks and gimmicks to improve performance, and always have, sometimes even tweaks intended to make a single engine run well. That makes creating your own driver a monumental task, even if you ostensibly have the specs, because those specs are never quite valid. Hell, ATI/Nvidia can't even get their drivers to work right all the time, and they made the damned cards.

All of that is a reason why the ability to work with an existing driver (assuming it is well-made) a huge bonus. Because otherwise you are working with a black box that doesn't ever work exactly as advertised and as it properly should. If you can look at the source, you can try to figure out why. Ideally, the hardware would itself be open too so you could see how far it deviates from the specs (they all do), but we don't live in an ideal world. Thats why I use a close-source driver and probably always will. But it'd be cool if I didn't have to. And that's the point of the story.

Re:Yes, we get it. (3, Insightful)

Cley Faye (1123605) | about 2 years ago | (#41191915)

Linux IS a good platform for games. As said, you can see what's happening at every level, which mean no need to workaround weird unexpected behaviors and stuff.
Linux isn't a good platform for some game developpers, because of the small user base. But for Valve, aside from the initial work of porting their Source engine, it only means more reach. Having the engine already work on macs probably helped a lot. And if great games start to be available on Linux (and I mean more than one AAA game per year, at most), it might also leverage the linux presence.
Giving the user the choice is the only sensible choice for people working with their brains, and Valve's pretty good at it.

Re:Yes, we get it. (0)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | about 2 years ago | (#41193175)

No, Linux is not a good platform for games. All of these tweaks that valve is making to the drivers are an indicator that the drivers are immature and don't provide the same level of performance as they do in Windows.

Re:Yes, we get it. (4, Insightful)

oursland (1898514) | about 2 years ago | (#41193843)

You're misunderstanding Valve's position. They're not tweaking the drivers so much as using the source to understand which operations in THEIR software behave poorly. You're also ignorant to how much tweaking is already done in video games to make them work under Windows. Look at the furor Rage's release last year caused because AMD's drivers were broken and id Software didn't jump through hoops to make it work on that platform like so many other companies do.

Re:Yes, we get it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41193943)

Valve, and the numbers, disagree with you.

http://www.bit-tech.net/news/gaming/2012/08/02/valve-linux-performance/1

Re:Yes, we get it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41191987)

I think you use the word 'supported' loosely.

Re:Yes, we get it. (4, Informative)

micheas (231635) | about 2 years ago | (#41192053)

Apples and oranges. Carmack was talking about the financial viablity of targeting games to run on desktop Linux. Valve is talking about the two platforms from a developers perspective.

Carmack as said that Valve entering the desktop Linux market changes thinks somewhat.

Re:Yes, we get it. (1)

SplashMyBandit (1543257) | about 2 years ago | (#41194141)

> Carmack was talking about the financial viablity of targeting games to run on desktop Linux.
Remember, there is an enormous difference in targetting games to write on Linux *as well as other platforms*, compared to targetting games for Linux only (which would be a financial mistake). I'm currently using Java+JoGL(OpenGL+GLSL)+JOAL(OpenAL)+JInput to write a combat flight simulator. I develop on Mac and test on Linux and Windows. Because I have chosen these technologies the only cross-platform issues I have are slight peculiarties in the OpenGL driver implementations (AMD vs NVidia) on each platform - and these are pretty minor.

It would be expensive to include a Linux port if I was working in C++, and Carmack would be right about that. But since I'm using Java (which is very, very fast for my purposes - the bottleneck is GPU performance by far since all the large effort is done in shaders) having my program work on Java pretty much comes for free (and I used to do a lot of cross-platform C and C++ in the day, so I don't make the stupid platform-dependent mistakes that many other devs do ; eg. put in platform-dependent filepath separators rather than use File.separator, etc). Hence, I must disagree with Carmack's statement. A Linux port is not financially viable for him since he is using old outdated technology to build his software (that is, C++, which I have used for two decades, but am glad that OpenJDK/Oracle Java is now super fast and I don't have the PITA of C++ anymore; plus multi-core apps with *shared resources* are vastly easier to build [which means Java's multi-core performance destroys C++ single-core any day]).

So, while Carmack may be a genius when it comes to graphics algorithms using the technologies he has used for a long time, it turns out that in terms of "financial viability" Linux is perfectly possible provided you are willing to adapt to more modern tools.

Final note: the world is becoming increasingly more cross-platform, not less. So if you are using technologies that require effort to port between platforms you may be making a good technological choice but a poor 'business/financial' choice. Hence, I prefer Java to C/C++/C#(Mono doesn't count; the libraries are not the same as C# ones) etc for most of my work since 'porting' is so easy.

Re:Yes, we get it. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41192215)

>Funny how Valve just *loves* Linux now that Microsoft threatens their primary business model. Meanwhile, John Carmack, who supported Linux before it was trendy and cool and has no financial incentive to shit all over Microsoft claims that Linux is not a good platform for games. Gee, I wonder who I should believe?!?!

John Carmack did not say that linux is not a good platform for games. He said that the games that ID-Software ported on linux did not earn the cost for porting. This is a hard fact.
But, no wonder that this is the case. Most gamers that use linux although have a windows partition for gaming. And when the windows version of a game comes month before the linux version, you already "lost" a big part of the potential linux market to the windows version.

Now, Valve shit their pants because of the windows market, and try to change it. And they have the power. Valve can solve all the distro and patch problems for the developers. If they deliver an easy way for game developers to reach the linux audience, linuxgaming will hopefully be a worthwhile market.

Re:Yes, we get it. (3, Insightful)

semi-extrinsic (1997002) | about 2 years ago | (#41192393)

No matter how you twist it, if Linux gets graphics drivers on par with Windows, it is much better for games since it wastes much less resources.

Case in point: My Linux installation at work, which is an 8 core, 16 GB RAM computational workstation, uses 231 MB of RAM after I've logged in. Two days after last reboot, with five terminal windows, Firefox with a dozen tabs, Citrix (to run Outlook, restrictive company Exchange policy...), Gimp, Blender, two additional CAD programs, and two instances of a PDF viewer, I'm still only using 1.7 GB RAM.

On the same system, Windows 7 uses 1.5 GB after I've logged in, no programs running. And yes, I'm using both preload and readahead on the Linux system, so don't give me the "Windows uses RAM to store things it will need in the future" because my Linux does as well.

Re:Yes, we get it. (3, Insightful)

not already in use (972294) | about 2 years ago | (#41192675)

>And yes, I'm using both preload and readahead on the Linux system, so don't give me the "Windows uses RAM to store things it will need in the future" because my Linux does as well. If you're *only* using 231MB of 16 gigabytes, you're not caching nearly as many things as it could/should be. The only point you make is that Linux is terrible at putting your system's resources to good use.

Re:Yes, we get it. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41193275)

I assume he means that the Linux system uses 231MB for process allocation. This isn't counting filesystem cache.

Windows seems to have the same concept, sort of. I think. At least, it seems to list "cached" memory as total - used, and I assume that means fs cache. I have no idea if the prefetch stuff resides in cached or used memory though. What I do know is that if used gets up to total, it starts swapping like crazy, so I sure how they would drop the prefetch cache before it swaps...

Re:Yes, we get it. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41193403)

On UNIX machines, some filesystems actually use the free memory as a cache, but leave it marked as free in case an application needs them.
UFS for instance does this, while ZFS for instance does not (it uses an explicit cache).

Re:Yes, we get it. (3, Interesting)

OneAhead (1495535) | about 2 years ago | (#41193787)

You gotta be trolling. I'm running dual-boot too, and just about everything I do goes so much smoother in Linux than in Windows. From my usability point of view, it feels like windows is just squandering resources. GP's numbers do seem about right to me.

That said, I've always felt uneasy about "comparing the numbers" between Linux and Windows. The way windows' Task Manager reports memory usage is different form the default "top" view, and they're both somewhat nontransparent to the uninitiated because virtual memory management is complicated business. To make an apples-to-apples comparison, one has to precisely analyze how much memory is cached, buffered, swapped, committed and allocated. To make matters more difficult, Linux distros and users have a strong inclination to customize how the kernel manages memory and what software is being loaded, so there will be huge differences between different Linux measurements. And even windows can be leaned out or fattened up to a great extent by users and OEMs.

Re:Yes, we get it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41193265)

Two days after last reboot, with... Firefox with a dozen tabs... I'm still only using 1.7 GB RAM.

You'll have to excuse me while I call bullshit on that. Firefox with a dozen tabs will take up 1GB easy, and I find it hard to believe that your CAD programs and Blender aren't sucking down at least another 700MB without even considering the other running programs, the OS kernel, and the XWindows system.

Re:Yes, we get it. (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about 2 years ago | (#41193595)

so don't give me the "Windows uses RAM to store things it will need in the future" because my Linux does as well.

Apples to oranges. The two systems use different memory management schemes. Case in point: 8 GB laptop, with some explorer addons and several background services (including Forefront antivirus), and I use ~900MB of RAM. I understand that under memory pressure, Win7 can work quite well with as little as 512MB, which is about the minimum I have seen your average modern Linux desktop work well with.

Of course, if you want to compare a stock Win7 desktop with something like XFCE with no addons or icons or anything, you can do so, but its even more apples to oranges. What sound manager are you using? Is compositing on, or off? Do you have any indexing enabled? Are any background services running in the Windows box, or is it a fresh install? How did you measure the RAM usage? All of those uncertainties make the comparison you gave worthless.

And at the end of the day, it really doesnt matter what "free RAM numbers" are reported-- it is irrelevant if Windows 7 fills every spare bit of RAM with images of unicorns and always reports "100% RAM usage", so long as it releases that memory when needed. A more meaningful comparison would be to see what happens under memory pressure: Which box can open more tabs in Firefox without paging? THAT is a relevant question, since its the only one that has any meaningful impact on the computer's performance.

For the record, the recent Linux distros Ive tried (maybe a year or two ago?) performed rather poorly under 256MB RAM. I havent tried Win7 on anything less than 1GB, so cant comment on that.

Re:Yes, we get it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41193807)

Maybe you should believe the company making money hand over fist, as opposed to the programmer who hasn't made a decent game in years.

Presenting Valve as friendly company (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41191873)

I have this feeling that Linux community (or the larger free software community - ESR fans may simply not care) ever since announcements of Steam and L4D ports got public, thinks of Valve a little too high than the company deserves. At the same time as they criticise Windows 8 walled garden, they are pushing new TOS to their Steam service users which, most importantly, dropped the notion of owning a digital "product" in favor of "subscribtion". This is yet another step on the path towards taking our legally purchased software away from us.

As Linux serves to give it's users total control over their computers, I think at least part of community should rethink their enthusiasm over Valve coming to Linux platform. In my opinion, some of practices it brings are totally at odds with free software values.

PS. captcha "dissent", very true.

Re:Presenting Valve as friendly company (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41192103)

One of the core issues here though is that we have a company that is trying to cater to their customers both with great games, an easy and intuative way to install/manage them, easy ways to keep them up to date, solid support for mods and modders on practicaly all their own games, good prices, and DRM which doesn't get in the way of almost anyone.

I agree that what you say about steam's TOS is a step back (if it's really as you describe, i hadn't heard about it before, but i'll take your word for it). But in a landscape that is filled with players such as Electronic Arts, UBISoft and Blizzard on one end, and companies like Nvidia, Sony, Microsoft on the other end (the hardware), it becomes very hard not to root for Valve. I think they seem approachable enough that an outcry by their users will result in them actually reconsidering or at the very least explaining their position. They're far from perfect (Where's my Half-life 3 Gabe, what gives!!! and nice intervals between episodic content !) but they're a choir boy surrounded by serial rapists in the marketspace.

Re:Presenting Valve as friendly company (3, Informative)

gman003 (1693318) | about 2 years ago | (#41192227)

FYI, it's always been phrased as a "subscription".

The recent change only tries to ban class-action lawsuits, which yes, is kind of a dick move.

Re:Presenting Valve as friendly company (4, Informative)

ravenshrike (808508) | about 2 years ago | (#41192307)

On the other hand if you ask for less than $10,000 in arbitration they'll pay for your lawyer fees win or lose.

Re:Presenting Valve as friendly company (2)

iive (721743) | about 2 years ago | (#41193041)

On the other hand if you ask for less than $10,000 in arbitration they'll pay for your lawyer fees win or lose.

On the other hand if you ask for less than $10,000 in arbitration they'll pay for your lawyer fees win or lose.

If you are going to dispute for a small amount of money you are always better off using Small Claims Court. It is a real court and you can expect to get a real fair verdict. Most of the small claims courts even forbid lawyers.

On the other side arbitration in USA is known to be so biased that it is literally a farce (in 99.9% of the cases). The arbitration is done by private entities under little to no oversight, you are going to face corporate lawyers and the arbitration is binding, meaning you can't appeal it . The arbitration is biased because the corporation can pick not only the arbitration company but also the actual arbiter. Here is the testimony [senate.gov] of an arbiter that got rejected after single judgment in favor of a customer.

Re:Presenting Valve as friendly company (2)

Hatta (162192) | about 2 years ago | (#41193785)

If you are going to dispute for a small amount of money you are always better off using Small Claims Court. It is a real court and you can expect to get a real fair verdict. Most of the small claims courts even forbid lawyers.

In my state, either party to a small claims suit can request that the case be moved to a regular court. If requested, it shall be moved. So small claims is effectively neutered here. If a big company wants to bury someone in legal fees, all they have to do is ask the judge to let them, and the judge must let them.

On the other side arbitration in USA is known to be so biased that it is literally a farce (in 99.9% of the cases).

Justice in the USA is literally a farce.

Re:Presenting Valve as friendly company (1)

hobarrera (2008506) | about 2 years ago | (#41193261)

I greatly respect Valve's invovlment in the whole open source driver issue, but I still won't buy anything from them because their products are very DRM-infested. Respecting a single action from a company, and willingness to buy their products are very different things.

Re:Presenting Valve as friendly company (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about 2 years ago | (#41194105)

In my opinion, some of practices it brings are totally at odds with free software values

Its possible that "free software values" are not a primary motivation for using a personal computer. Some (and I would say most) people just want to use their computer.

Good news (4, Interesting)

JDG1980 (2438906) | about 2 years ago | (#41191905)

This is good news, because a company like Valve might actually have the clout to get AMD and/or nVidia to release good open-source drivers. After all, if it wasn't for the games released by companies like Valve, a heck of a lot fewer PC owners would need/want discrete video cards. And neither AMD nor nVidia wants a popular game to run worse on their card than on their competitors.

Re:Good news (1)

Maquis196 (535256) | about 2 years ago | (#41192167)

If the rumoured steam-station/box exists then that graphics order alone might sway one or both of AMD/Nvidia to release some drivers if it helped them get the contract.

Even if they're just the drivers for a particular model of card or chipset. That card would also work its way into every Linux desktop I'll ever build.

Re:Good news (2)

gbjbaanb (229885) | about 2 years ago | (#41192859)

but if a steambox is coming, and they buy 10 billion graphics cards from AMD or nVidia, then there's no reason why they would bother with an OSS driver - the hardware will be fixed in stone, so a single binary custom built for the steambox will be all that's needed.

No, you'll never get these 2 to provide OSS drivers for their high-end products simply because this is part how they compete with each other. Until someone understands this, nothing is going to change.

Now, I guess you might get some traction if you could persuade both companies to release full OSS drivers for all their cards, and that would benefit us all (as both companies take the good bits from each others drivers), but therein lies the problem - they'll take the good bits from each others drivers and will have to compete against each other on price and hardware capabilities making each company as good as each other. They won't do that.

Re:Good news (1)

Jeng (926980) | about 2 years ago | (#41193013)

I haven't looked into the rumors of a steambox, but who is to say it won't be upgradable?

Perhaps it will be more of a loose set of standards than an unchanging appliance.

Ok, after a five second google, that looks like I may be right.

http://www.joystiq.com/2012/03/08/valve-debunks-rumors-of-steam-box-console-pc/ [joystiq.com]

Re:Good news (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41192313)

It might end up going that way, but i don't think this is the game they're playing at.

Intel already has great drivers, they've got quality boards, but they're not in the high-end space yet because all their current offerings are embedded in the cpu. It doesn't seem to be an enormous step for them to start offering standalone videocards because most of the tech required for this is already available to them. The problem though would be marketting the stuff to Gamers. AMD/ATI and NVidia are burned into the brain of any gamer and even if Intel has a card on the shelves with similar specs for only 60% of the price, not many gamers would be tempted to buy it. They need an expensive marketing campaign to re-train customers to think past ATI/NVidia and they also need to push serious volume to make up for all the money they'd have to invest.

If Valve wants to start selling a x64 PC-based gaming console, with Intel as the exclusive partner to supply the CPU and GPU, then they both massively benefit.
Having Valve's name and the Steamplatform's catalog behind the console means it's instantly appealing to many people, meaning it's guaranteed to sell well (assuming the price is right).
Having a huge volume of SteamConsole's (or whatever they'll call it) out there means Intel gaming GPU's will be taken seriously very quickly without a highly pricey Marketing effort.
Having a huge order of CPU+GPU by Valve for their SteamConsoles means Intel can recoup their investment quickly.
Having Intel as main supplier will be very beneficial for Valve too, its a reliable company and they have tons of highly skilled professionals on payroll.
Having to only deal with one type of hardware means they can tweak the hell out of the steam platform and source engine to fit snuggly onto the Intel driver and intel chipset. This will also result in Steam on the PC having great performance with Intel Gamingcard which will undoubtedly eventually be available for regular PC's aswell.

Re:Good news (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41192417)

You want open source AMD drivers? All I need to do to make that happen is buy an expensive NVidia card.
Oh, you want open source NVidia drivers? I just need to buy an expensive AMD card.

Re:Good news (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | about 2 years ago | (#41193413)

AMD and nVidia put the secret sauce in their drivers.
Otherwise there wouldn't be much of a benefit from soft/hardmodding a gaming card into a commercial card that sells for 2x to 5x as much.

Thanks for catching on (1)

StuartHankins (1020819) | about 2 years ago | (#41191967)

You'd think this would be obvious... but it's good to see someone stand up and take notice. Of course having the source is extremely beneficial, especially if you have the inclination and skills to interact with it (or can pay someone who does possess these qualities). I hope this gets lots of coverage. Maybe with more eyes and more review, people can spend more of their time creating and trying new things and less time recreating the wheel. Open source is an excellent way to help achieve that goal.

Only Valve can afford to experiment (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41192003)

Seriously, other developers would never try to experiment with linux, due to the cost it would result in. With the massive budget that valves has with Steam, they can afford it and it can only do good for all of us.

Re:Only Valve can afford to experiment (5, Interesting)

preaction (1526109) | about 2 years ago | (#41192089)

Valve as a company is built to experiment. They were experimenting before they had metric fucktons of money (a metric fuckton is 1.7 imperial fucktons). Turning TF2 into "My Pretty Mercenary" (accessorize! explodize!) was an experiment. Steam itself was an experiment. Their experiments have frequently paid off, and now they've got the ability to do even more radical experiments.

Re:Only Valve can afford to experiment (2)

jedidiah (1196) | about 2 years ago | (#41194011)

This is what game companies that haven't lost their soul do. They experiment. Sometimes the experiment fails, sometimes it becomes the defining work of a genre.

Hmmmm (1)

AdmV0rl0n (98366) | about 2 years ago | (#41192163)

Valve is sitting in closed rooms patting itself and Intel on the back.
Intel GPU performance and drivers have in every encounter I have suffered them - blown. Yes, they will do basic workload gfx wise. They will run office. They run basic apps. The times I take complex apps and have problems are legion. Its great that Intel and Valve are debugging the worst hardware in the PC gaming arena. Great. Even the current HD4000 leaves much to be desired.
Might I suggest this is the last place Valve should be knobbing around? If the aim is to make Linux + Intel garbage GPU a gaming platform, I'll even vacate to consoles.
Maybe its a case of 'we must make steam and our games work from the bottom up'. If so, then I'll cut some slack.

Valve need to be focusing and getting on board Nvidia and ATI. They are the only really viable PC gaming platform centric hardware to focus on, and IMHO its the only place to focus.

But I said this at the beginning when Valve started down this road. Its a horrible broken lonely road, with vendors not liking Linux enough, and Linux being in a mess at driver and API level.Valve will need to drag the API and driver layers and APIs together (and form up a direct X alike organised, working, stable layer) because no one else is going to do it for them. As they require DRM, they have a perfect vehicle to offer the GFX vendors a driver layer that is open to closed source/binary layers.

All the positive stuff coming out can be ignored. This will be a huge uphill battle, and they are only at the very edge of this task. Even if they get their Source platform working to a vague level, the rest of steam is far far behind, with most Windows Games being Direct X based for a start.

And even if you make Linux + Steam a gaming platform. Its a very long way off Steam + windows. A very very long way off.

Re:Hmmmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41192343)

1) Think Valve is really ignoring AMD and nVidia?

2) Check out Unity 3D, version 4.

3) Portal is still a good game at 800x600.

Extrapolate a little.

Re:Hmmmm (2)

HuguesT (84078) | about 2 years ago | (#41192429)

I think you need to compare the graphics performance of the current crop of Intel integrated GPU with that of the Xbox 360 or the PS2. They are not so far away anymore, perhaps even better.

Since the Xbox is a viable gaming platform, then perhaps an Intel + Steam box would be as well.

Yes, Nvidia and AMD are much better, but does it matter ?

Re:Hmmmm (1)

Jeng (926980) | about 2 years ago | (#41193087)

Most likely Intel has the easiest drivers to work with, both in driver structure and business responsiveness.

It will most probably be easier for Valve to help AMD and/or NVIDIA with their experience from working with Intel.

The state of graphics on open source (1)

Missing.Matter (1845576) | about 2 years ago | (#41192203)

Maybe developing with open source graphics drivers is great, but that's a different story than the state of graphics on open source.

Graphics on Ubuntu are terrible in my anecdotal experience. On my last laptop, installing Ubuntu 9.04 failed during install and dumped me at a command prompt because it didn't support the correct drivers to display the graphical install. That was the first and last time I attempted to run Ubuntu on that laptop. Or on my newer Envy 14 with dual ATi and Intel graphics. 10.10 installs fine, but then tells me there's an upgraded driver, which if installed will prevent the computer from booting. Wonderful. Then there's the fact that it's running both graphics cards at once because there's no hybrid support, so battery life is shit and I can't output HDMI. I can't run the newest 12.xx releases with Unity, since it says I need graphics acceleration and my machine can't handle it; it's probably looking at my Intel card and concluding it's not good enough, while ignoring my ATi card.

Then there's my quad core HP DV 7 laptop, which I can get HDMI output on. Except you have to configure it manually every single time you connect a monitor. I have to connect the monitor, detect it manually, enable it manually, then rearrange the monitor relationship manually every single time. Repeat if I want to disconnect.

Sorry, I won't be even considering running games on my Linux boxes/laptops. I'm running Windows 8 on my gaming laptop and it handles graphics, HDMI out, dual cards, dual monitors, Steam, all games (not just Source games) just fine. Why would I ever subject myself to the mess that is graphics on Linux?

Re:The state of graphics on open source (2)

Baloroth (2370816) | about 2 years ago | (#41192751)

Sorry, I won't be even considering running games on my Linux boxes/laptops. I'm running Windows 8 on my gaming laptop and it handles graphics, HDMI out, dual cards, dual monitors, Steam, all games (not just Source games) just fine. Why would I ever subject myself to the mess that is graphics on Linux?

Won't get better unless someone (e.g. Valve) works on fixing it.

Re:The state of graphics on open source (1)

Ash-Fox (726320) | about 2 years ago | (#41193109)

Maybe next time by your laptop from a vendor like System76 [system76.com] ?

Re:The state of graphics on open source (2)

jedidiah (1196) | about 2 years ago | (#41194043)

...or just suck it up and use the text mode installer. The card may be newer than your distro. You may need to install 3rd party drivers after the install is done.

Consider it a Windows-ism.

Re:The state of graphics on open source (1)

clarkn0va (807617) | about 2 years ago | (#41194069)

I can't run the newest 12.xx releases with Unity, since it says I need graphics acceleration and my machine can't handle it; it's probably looking at my Intel card and concluding it's not good enough, while ignoring my ATi card.

More likely it's detecting the ATi card and using the free driver. Try installing fglrx or whatever the non-free AMD driver is these days and see what that does. Low performing they may be, but I can't say I've seen an Intel vid driver perform below expectations in a very long time.

So when am I going to get tear free video? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41192311)

The obligatory xkcd.... http://xkcd.com/619/

But it's not a joke. Intel Sandybridge still doesn't have stable tear free video. They finally came out with an option of getting rid of it the lastest driver, but it enabling it makes Xorg too unstable. Sandybridge has been on the market for a long time and is now becoming obsolete and intel still can't get it work properly. This is not what I would consider excellent driver support.

Insurance (1)

BryanL (93656) | about 2 years ago | (#41192619)

But do their insurance rates reflect this?

Guess what else Valve thinks is great? (1)

macraig (621737) | about 2 years ago | (#41192651)

Valve also thinks denying (coercing) clients their fundamental right to pursue cooperative collective class-action lawsuits against the company, even when such suits would be ethically warranted, is great. In that context, as a Valve client who wishes he could get his damned money back for the games he can now no longer access or play, even in single-player modes, for having resisted the aforementioned coercion, I couldn't care less what Valve or Gabe Newell thinks about open source drivers or anything else.

I bet Microsoft... (1)

NettiWelho (1147351) | about 2 years ago | (#41192819)

is shaking in its collective shoes right about know, isnt gaming kinda one of the biggest things keeping a ton of people on windows?

Re:I bet Microsoft... (1)

Jeng (926980) | about 2 years ago | (#41193243)

isnt gaming kinda one of the biggest things keeping a ton of people on windows?

Bigger is MS Office, but they are getting squeezed in that market also.

MS's long term growth looks to be negative.

And so it begins (1)

jthill (303417) | about 2 years ago | (#41192925)

The reign of the old shogunate, is over.

Open source to be competitive? (1)

HalAtWork (926717) | about 2 years ago | (#41193707)

So to be competitive, hardware manufacturers may have to provide their driver source? Perhaps at least to the developers. But that could be anyone really, and the next Minecraft may run better on Intel graphics hardware than any other because some amateur developer was able to wring performance out of it that much more easily.

But at the level that AMD/ATI and nVidia are competing with each other, perhaps the one to take the edge will be the one that provides open source drivers.

system ram is slower then video ram (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 2 years ago | (#41193729)

system ram is slower then video ram and with cards having 1-2GB of ram now days that is a BIG CHUCK on system ram to use and shearing it makes so you really can't say block off 1gb of ram just for video use.

Your all missing the point of the article (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41194129)

There is one huge point that your all missing and is likely why Valve even mentioned it in the first place.

More often than not the techniques that work great on one graphics chipset, works just as well compared to alternative techniques on other graphics chipsets. Being able to modify the driver to measure the differences or track down obscure bugs, is a massive boon. It makes tools like Intel GPA and Nvidia's PerfKit look like childs play.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?