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.