Several weeks ago, the linux-nvidia
list (formerly the Riva Enlightenment Project) reported that
NVidia released a binary-only
OS-neutral driver core for their chips. Well, NVidia has released
an update, and this time they're serving up source! (Note: This is
not the same as the XFree86 source release a few months
back; this suite is more low-level and extensible.)
NVIDIA has opened up an area on their Web site, where is
contained an OS-neutral
driver core. The suite is intended for developers to write
their own drivers and 3D accelerators for the RIVA 128, TNT, and
TNT2 chips on the platform of their choice. Materials available so
far include an implementation of the NVIDIA Multimedia
Architecture, provided as compilable source code, as well as
several linkable object files compiled with gcc and VisualC 5.0).
The source is provided under what appears to be a BSD-style
license. Alas, the source code isn't very educational, as it has
been run through cpp. Still, this puts it
head-and-shoulders above 3Dfx's GLIDE.
Also included in the distribution are OS interface
documentation, rendering primitive documentation, and source code
to example programs, test programs, and sample driver
implementations for Linux and Windows-NT.
My reading of the docs suggests that the NVIDIA API supports
impressive levels of concurrency at a hardware level through
multiple independent contexts and an object-oriented-like
interface. It looks like there's enough information here to make
high-performance 3D-in-a-window comparatively easy to achieve.
There's also nothing preventing multi-headed support.
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