open graphics hardware is not dead
Phoronix declares the death of the open-source graphics card, but i disagree. Now, i am not really following the projects mentioned in the article (though i pay attention when i come across the topic), but i believe that open-source graphics is far from dead and it will come back. I am certain. We just need some patience.
In the long term, since the first computers, more and more sophisticated devices are being created by hobbyists. It is all a matter of the cost of components and the availability of affordable tools. For example, just recently oshpark.com was launched. A site that will print custom circuit boards at an affordable price. This site may not be the first of its kind, but it certainly is not the last. And just like the 3d printers, circuitboard printing is becoming accessible to more people, and it will be followed eventually by the ability to create small batches of affordable ICs, opening up room for more development and creation of open hardware.
Incidently, just today i attended a meeting here in beijing of openbrd. A group of young enthusiastic developers intent on making a completely open version of a miniature form factor arm based computer. (Like the raspberry pi or the beagleboard, but all specs, drivers, etc completely open and designed to allow anyone to build the device for themselves). So they are not designing the chips themselves, but another group like them, in a few years, may. They are meeting weekly in a restaurant in the northwest of beijing. About half a dozen people sat around a table, watching an unscripted presentation and discussing the topic. Today's topic wasn't about open hardware but introduced wget and curl and then by a second speaker, emacs. This group formed less than a year ago, but it is not the first group about open hardware in beijing. Before it, the beijing linux user group was leading an effort to create an open hardware quadcopter. But like the open-source graphics projects, that project eventually ceased (because some key members left beijing). Worldwide, there are many more groups like it. And one day, one of these groups will produce that open source graphics card.
As i said, i am not closely following the open-source graphics card efforts, and it may be a long time before these efforts gains some traction again, as well as the focus may shift to other components in a digital device. But the failure of existing projects to produce a result is a setback, it's not the end. just wait!
This topic is also discussed on LXer. In particular, khamul makes some compelling counter arguments regarding the prospects of accessible IC production.
A short while after this posting the developer behind Project VGA has written a lengthy email explaining why the open-source graphics card is no more. It appears to be that part of the problem was lack of openness from a company supporting the project. And then, just a few days later a university group announces that they are developing an open source graphics accelerator as part of their master thesis.