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AMD beta tester here.

AMD separated HDCP and DRM related silicon from video acceleration units some time ago to be able to open source their GPUs completely sans the NDA bound stuff. Even this is a very big generosity and step from them for the Linux community.

I'm sure that the firmware contains some highly proprietary and revealing information about some of their secret sauce. So, they won't be able to do it even if they want to.




There is no secret sauce in the firmware, but it has HDCP garbage (which is causing it to remain a blob). AMD could provide one without HDCP as an open option, but I suppose they didn't see enough demand for it.


I think it also had the clocks, memory settings, thermal thresholds and other hardware tuning parameters. So opening the firmware may also lead to many many fried boards.

Also, if the core enablement and configuration is done in the firmware, some vendors may find themselves in a hard position, since they may be selling crippled GPUs as lower spec cards.

Last, but not the least if folks enable faulty CUs in their cards and see the faults, they may create some (albeit unjustified) noise in "teh internets", which will return as bad press.

So, while the firmware is good for research and educational purposes, it's also a Pandora's box IMHO.


You can fry the hardware even now, if you set fan curve incorrectly, or create some other power management mess. Opening up firmware isn't really affecting that.

In the end, opening it up isn't any worse than opening up the kernel driver to begin with (you could apply similar arguments to that). And AMD were OK with it, and from what I've heard, DRM is really the main issue here. As usual, media lobby poisoned the technology for us.


I think you won't be able to override the emergency shutdown thresholds in the firmware.

I'm a big free and open software advocate. I primarily use free and open source software, and try to open every line of code I write. I'd like to see the firmware on the open like the drivers. I just wanted to talk my understanding of hardware. If my comments sounded otherwise, I'm sorry, my bad.


I've heard from Linux AMD engineers, that they supported the idea of opening up the firmware, and opposition to it wasn't based on the concerns you listed, but primarily driven by DRM (and the need to split it into two variants which is an extra effort).


That's possible & I'd love to see the firmware source code and play with it TBH. I also like AMD because of the efforts they make to open themselves as much as they can.

BTW, I'm not employed by AMD or ATI. I was just one of the independent members while the GPU driver beta testing was closed to outsiders.

DRM always complicates things, but always get broken at the end. Also, it's always a crippling pain.


What HDL is in use at AMD - Verilog like at Nvidia or SystemC like at Intel?


Sorry, that's beyond my knowledge.




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