Open source community gets big push from AMD, Intel

A double serving of GPU goodness has hit the open source community  with both AMD and Intel releasing open source graphics driver code for current and upcoming graphics devices.

According to AMD, the HD 7000 series GPUs and Trinity APU (HD 7000-class graphics), developers have received an updated list of patches that will require adding to the Linux kernel in order to properly support AMD’s Southern Islands graphics. Supported will be the current Tahiti, Pitcairn and Cape Verde chips, but also Trinity’s graphics element, Aruba.

With this we hope that the graphics support will make it somewhere into one of the next Linux kernels soonish. Version 3.4 is coming up, but it’s a bit short notice.

Almost at the same time, Intel has also released code to the open source community about its ‘next big thing’, Haswell, the successor to Ivy Bridge. This will also allow Intel to integrate the GPU support into the upcoming 3.4 kernel, if it is done fast enough.

Considering Haswell will introduce a couple of features to boost graphics performance considerably, one of which might be a rumoured L4 cache, possibly dedicated eDRAM, much like the graphics parts on consoles, this helps build up the hype and support for the CPU considerably. Intel’s Open Source Technology Centre is moving forward right now, so that by the time the CPU is out, it is fully supported by Linux distributions.

Both companies seem to be taking Linux a bit more seriously lately, with several updates and launches announced in the past year that drastically improved GPU performance on the OS. With the two big names in ‘APUs’ vying for a leadership position on the desktop, every little bit counts, and Linux with its HPC computing genes, seems to be a fine place to flex your GPU-on-CPU muscle.