AMD dismisses numerous open source developers
As part of a process to reduce its staff by 15 per cent, AMD has closed the Dresden, Germany-based Operating System Research Center (OSRC) and dismissed the centre's employees. First indications of this move already surfaced last week, when several OSRC developers had announced on the Linux kernel developers' mailing list that they will no longer be available on their AMD email addresses. At the LinuxCon Europe conference, which is currently taking place in Barcelona, The H's associates at heise open learned that the Operating System Research Center has now been shut down completely.
OSRC staff primarily worked to develop the Linux support for AMD's server processors, but they also wrote code and extensions for related desktop and notebook CPUs – for example, they looked after the code to support CPU frequency scaling for the PowerNow and Turbo Core technologies. While working on the kernel's IOMMU and KVM support, one of AMD's former employees contributed to the development of the "IOMMU groups" feature that was integrated into Linux 3.6; this feature provides the basis for a new Linux 3.6 technology that allows a host's PCIe devices to be passed through to virtual machines and can also be used with Intel CPUs.
A look at the patches contributed to the Linux kernel by AMD employees reveals that the closure will cause AMD to lose almost all developers who have recently submitted major changes to support new AMD processors and chip sets in Linux. The OSRC had around 25 employees who also helped integrate important changes for new AMD platforms into Linux distributions such as Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) and SUSE Linux Enterprise. Some of the OSRC developers also worked on open source virtualisation solutions such as the Xen hypervisor.
According to heise Open's information, the department that handles the open source drivers for the graphics cores on graphics cards and AMD's Accelerated Processing Units (APUs) is not affected by the closure and the dismissals. Apparently, this department currently employs four developers who work on the open source graphics drivers that are part of the Linux kernel, Mesa 3D and X.org. How well future APUs will work under Linux remains to be seen, however, as decent APU graphics core drivers are of limited value if the Linux kernel only insufficiently supports the APUs' CPU features.