At the Red Hat summit AMD’s Henri Richard said that AMD will fix the ATI driver problems with Open Source. According to German technology news heise.de details will be given soon.
Christoph Blizzard mentioned in a short blog post from the summit a statement made by AMD’s Executive Vice President (paraphrased):
“most people are worried about what they will lose…IP, etc…we’re worried about what we can win.” They know it’s a problem and they are committed to fixing
The German news site heise.de immediately asked Henri Richard about further details, but he responded (German) that he will not talk about more concrete plans. However, “shortly” there will be a announcement after the last technical and juridical things are sorted out.
That reminds me of an interview with AMD’s head of software development where he stated that non-core parts of the drivers like the installation routine or additional scripts might be released as Open Source. Also, for some cards the 2D part is already Open Source.
I would be (positively) surprised if they release the core parts of the driver as Open Source. However, we might see Open Source 2D drivers like it has already been before for older cards. Also, stuff like TV-Out or the control center could be released as Open Source because they do not content “high value IP” like the 3D parts.
On the other side it could also be possible that AMD tries to copy Intel’s WLAN driver attempt: releasing all parts necessary to build the kernel modules plus providing a binary blob which is independent from changes in the kernel API. Of course current AMD cards do not come along with the need of a firmware image, but the principle of splitting up into Open Source and binary blob still might be possible.
But we will see “shortly”, to use AMD’s words.