Open Graphics Card Available For Preorder

The Open Graphics Project has started accepting preorders for their OGD1, a graphics card with a completely open source design. This initial release is billed as a high-end FPGA prototyping kit specifically designed to test computer graphics architectures. The card has two DVI connectors, S-Video, 256MB RAM, and a 64bit PCI-X connector. The core of the system is a Xilinx Spartan-3 XC3S4000 FPGA. A nonvolatile Lattice XP10 FPGA is used to bootstrap the Xilinx at power up. Here’s the layout of the specific components.

An open design like this could prove very beneficial to the free software community. The open hardware makes driver development much easier; binary drivers from traditional graphics manufacturers have been very hard to work with in the past. The OGD1 could also be used with CPU architectures that wouldn’t be unsupported by normal graphics cards. An FPGA based design means that CPU intensive processes like video decoding could be offloaded to the video card without needing a dedicated chip. There is still a lot of work to be done and at $1500 we’re pretty sure most of you won’t be buying the first generation. It’s still exciting to see traditional PC hardware getting reinvented and opened up. Check out the OGD1’s FAQ for more info.

17 thoughts on “Open Graphics Card Available For Preorder

  1. not to detract from their proejct at al, but one side benefit of something like this is it might pressure the suits at ati and nv to open up their designs. That might seem anti-competitive, but if it shifts developers’ time away from shrowding products in secrecy it may foster a new type of competitiveness: make the fastest graphics card that is easiest to write drivers for. Very cool stuff, wish I could afford it!

  2. @matt – on the website it says that pci-x is backwards compatible with pci, the header on the pci-x card is just longer, so part of the connector is unused if you plug it into a pci slot.

    could be the start of an amazing open computer hardware’d be fantastic to see an entirely open-source computer one of these days.

  3. Wow what’s with all the IC’s? Can’t you use a few ASIC chips?

    You can buy a few GeForce 9 Nvidia cards for what this costs.

    I remember seeing ISA and PCI card schematics and drivers years back. I think there was PCI circuits posted here too.

  4. In response to tjhooker:

    The NRE costs (R+D, masks, etc) for ASIC run to the millions of dollars. The NRE costs for FPGA is a 5-20 thousand to prototype the board. The unit costs of ASIC are much cheaper in volume, but for the per unit costs to break even, you need to sell hundreds of thousands of units.

  5. Correct me if I’m wrong, but is the pci-x connector the same as what was used on some DEC Alpha workstation boards? I know those slots are 64-bit, and the form factor looks about the same. And, what are the results if plugged into a standard PCI slot (if possible)?

  6. Has the logic for the secondary FPGA pretending to be a PCI bridge chip been synthesised so it can do its job?

    I’d be much more interested if this was the case. Still, don’t have $1500 USD to blow right now.

  7. Firstly, this project is just fantastic. Congratulations to all the developers. Those that get to use the card will certainly help in pushing the Linux Envelope further commercially.

    However, having motherboards with PCI-X slots only in our servers does not enable us to test, enjoy and assist you in furthering your great project. As far as I can tell. The Desktop thats your primary target.

    Sorry guys, I know you have spent a lot of your own $$$ or masses of time doing this, but PCI-e is the only way to go for the majority of current and new users in Linux-land. Apart from the poor local availability of good performing motherboards, PCI-e has overrun PCI-X and as such PCI-X is treated with much suspect emotions. Most people are aware that PCI-X is not going anywhere fast, and so avoid such devices, preferring PCI-e. Any Linux guru/developer is aware that PCI-e offers much more in bandwidth, scalable performance and software functionality and speed over the static PCI-X interface.

    Also — I am not 100% sure that PCI-X cards do work even if you can get them to fit in a PCI-X slot to start with. Could you please investigate this and advise potential customers on your website – If anything it will help with future purchases if it does conform.

    Unfortunately my experiences remind me to avoid/forget PCI-X. I have found differences between PCI-X conformance over 2.1, 2.2 h/w standards on some motherboards, so a blanket guarantee of suitability may not be wise. Anyhow, please check this all out with the h/w guru’s; and let us know the results.

    I sincerely hope you can re-spin the artwork and integrate a PCI-e interface chip and release a PCI-e board without too much loss in $$$ and time. Then, I would seriously more than consider purchasing such a great card.

  8. Oops …

    My paragraph should have read:

    Also — I am not 100% sure that PCI-X cards do work even if you can get them to fit in a PCI slot to start with. Could you please investigate this and advise potential customers on your website – If anything it will help with future purchases if it does conform.

  9. Grahame, these guys are intricately familiar with PCI standards. They do, after all, plan on (or have already) synth’d the logic to bridge from the PCI bus to the main FPGA. You couldn’t do a prototype run of 100 units even if you had no logic to program your FPGAs with, without first having a fairly decent understanding of the PCI standards.

    I highly doubt anything in your post that you’ve said would make them change their mind about any of the plans they have so far.

    Sorry, but this not a video card. It’s not being sold as such. No, they don’t even have a market at this stage. It’s basically a fund-raiser, being sold as an FPGA development kit, not a video card.

    This card does not do anything useful when you receive it. It won’t even display a test image (to my understanding). Hell, you are given a JTAG (I assume) cable so you can synth your own logic onto these otherwise blank FPGAs.

    Blank FPGAs means you have a useless board (unless you are an FPGA developer).

    And for what it’s worth, reworking for a PCI-e version is much, much more than just redoing the PCB artwork.

  10. 14: I don’t think ati or nv will care, unless this card proves to be a huge success, which is unlikely. They dominate the market anyway. This card is great for experimenting and development but lacks the performance any recent 3D accelerator would give.

  11. Hi people,
    I couldn’t download OGD1 schematics and Controller core from .
    Is there anyone who knows how I can download these files from this site or another mirror.
    I’ll appreciate your favor. I am a researcher and I work on Graphic Adapters and this project can help me.

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