Open Graphics Project founder Timothy Miller recently noted on the project's mailing list that they are set to announce that their first hardware, the OGD1, is ready for pre-order. "The OGD1 design has actually been finished for a couple of months now," he began, explaining that they've been setting up a way to process pre-orders for the first 100 boards. The board will retail at $1,500, with a $100 discount offered for the first 100 pre-orders. "These are pre-orders, not orders, Timothy continued, "that means the lead time is unpredictable. We don't have a stock. We will purchase a stock based on the number of pre-orders we get. Also, this means that if we never get a large enough number of pre-orders, we will be unable to fulfill them; all pre-orders would be canceled, and no one would be charged anything." He then explained that though the OGD1 could function as a graphics card, it is instead offered as a competitively priced FPGA development kit, "we need to make it clear what OGD1 is and why buying one is an important step for Free Software," adding:
"OGD1 is for hardware hackers. This isn't just about graphics. If all you wanted was a graphics card that worked with Free Software, we've had that for a long time with Matrox, for some time with Intel, and most recently and significantly with ATI. Where our graphics pipeline will be competitive is in embedded systems. As for long-term goals of this project, there are many different types of peripherals for which we do not have good Free Software support; for instance, wifi. But let's not get ahead of ourselves here. OGD1 is for hardware hackers. It's for the community of people who want to tinker with their own hardware ideas, students who want to learn, and professionals who need a prototyping platform. And of course full schematics and design details for OGD1 are offered under the GPL."
The Open Graphics Project was started in October of 2004 [story] by Timothy Miller [interview] with the intention of developing a completely open graphics card that "just works" on free and open source operating systems [story]. Since that time, the project has continued to work toward their goal [story], most recently completing the schematics [pdf] for their OGD1 board [story]. The OGD1 is an FPGA-based project board with memory and video hardware on it. The board will be utilized by the Open Graphics project to develop their graphics card, however it is also being made available commercially as a generic FPGA-based prototyping board to raise funds for the project. Timothy explains, "the OGD1 was going to be built anyway as a step towards OGC [the Open Graphics Card]. We were going to build 10 and use them ourselves. When corporate backing went away, we decided to make as many as we could sell."
At this time, no price has been set for the upcoming OGD1 board, however a recent discussion on the Open Graphics mailing list looked at the issue of determining an appropriate price. Timothy stressed that the OGD1 is not a graphics card, but instead is a prototyping board that is the first step toward creating a graphics card, "it's NOT a graphics card. It's a TOOL." He noted that similar boards on the market sell for upwards of $2,000, suggesting that the OGD1 will retail for quite a bit less, with discounts provided to people who buy the card in bulk and to active Open Graphics Project developers, "OGP developers are not customers. They are beneficiaries. :)" The pricing discussion continues, with the OGD1 expected to be completed and available for purchase within 6 months.
This week, developers with the Open Graphics Project are announcing that we have the PCB schematic for the OGD1 product ready for public review.
The Open Graphics Project is dedicated to developing open-architecture graphics hardware, specifically for use with Free and Open Source operating systems. Based on community feedback, we have defined a graphics architecture, and are working steadily towards producing real graphics hardware that "just works" with Linux, BSD, and other free operating systems.
Timothy Miller is a long time developer of graphics chips and drivers. He has observed that there is a growing trend by graphics hardware vendors to provide less and less information to free and open source operating system developers. Without this information, it is becoming more and more difficult to purchase new graphics hardware that is stable and reliable on Linux and other free and open source operating systems. In response, Timothy worked with his employer, Tech Source, to form the Open Graphics Project.
The Open Graphics Project is a collaboration between the Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) Community and Tech Source Inc. to develop new 3D graphics products that are compatible with Free Software, both philosophically and practically. The project is currently designing an "open source friendly graphics card" which will offer quality 3D and 2D acceleration with an impressive feature set at an affordable price, aiming for availability as early as June of 2005. Though the project was only started in October of 2004, it has already released the card's specifications, a design document, and a software model for early testing and driver development. In this interview, Timothy provides a wealth of information about the project and its current status, highlights contributions needed from the free and open source community, and fully describes the specific capabilities of the card.