Quartz Extreme doomed?

in General Discussion edited January 2014
<a href="http://www.theregister.co.uk/content/4/26125.html"; target="_blank">This article</a> in The Register might be trouble if Apple are hoping QE will speed up X.


In January we revealed that Microsoft had acquired a chunk of SGI's graphics portfolio. At the time we mused if the Beast had a plan to scupper OpenGL.

This was taking paranoia too far, wise heads told us.

But in the minutes of the OpenGL developer meeting, it's clear that Microsoft has staked an IP claim on portions of the OpenGL spec, and it's willing to license it's patents on RAND terms.

"Microsoft believes they have patent rights relating to the ARB_vertex_program extension. They did not contribute to the extension, but are trying to be upfront about it. They're offering to license their IP under reasonable and nondiscriminatory terms; will license rights to the extent necessary, provided a reciprocal license is granted to MS. Granted on 1:1 basis for OpenGL 1.3, 1.4, and earlier versions. Contact Dave Aronson for more specifics ... Microsoft does believe they have IP claims against fragment shaders, too."

This gives the first public indication that hardware manufacturers are beginning to rub up against Microsoft's patent portfolio. Whether the Beast's goal is to kill OpenGL with kindness, or simply to let the GPU manufacturers know who's da boss, we don't know. The wording is misleadingly benign: non-discriminatory licenses are only non-discriminatory until there's some discrimination.

And right now it's too early to say. All we can see is the shark's fin.

But we'll be keeping our eyes on two patents filed by SGI - which created OpenGL - particularly this one and this one. If we discover that these have been assigned to Microsoft, it may be time to leave the beach entirely.

Any views from Linux developers or OpenGL developers on non-Microsoft platforms?


Could Apple fight back on the grounds of prior art or will OpenGL soon be ClosedGL?

[ 07-10-2002: Message edited by: Jonathan ]</p>


  • Reply 1 of 20
    bodhibodhi Posts: 1,424member
    I think OpenGL is software, not hardware.
  • Reply 2 of 20
    tsukuritetsukurite Posts: 192member
    [quote]Originally posted by Bodhi:

    <strong>I think OpenGL is software, not hardware. </strong><hr></blockquote>

    But it could seriously effect hardware vendors, videocard companies in particular. The chips are made to support the OpenGL spec. If M$'s claims can hold water, it'll put the big hurt on any vendor that wants to support/use OpenGL. As far as Apple goes, if QE uses either of these functions (and you can probably bet that they do) then M$ has a legal method to eviserate one of the biggest features of their competitor's flagship product. Of course M$ would let Apple use DirectX...what's that? It doesn't work in Mac OS? Oh, my stars! How horrible! Well in works in Windows you know. *wink,wink. nudge,nudge* <img src="graemlins/bugeye.gif" border="0" alt="[Skeptical]" />

    Plus, M$ can claim (rightfully, darn it) that they are merely protecting their intellectual property. With malicious intent, to be sure, but it would be legal.

    But M$ would never do that, right? Nahhh. They've turned over a new life. Everyone knows that.
  • Reply 3 of 20
    sc_marktsc_markt Posts: 1,393member
    My gut feeling is that this is not good for Apple.
  • Reply 4 of 20
    blackcatblackcat Posts: 697member
    [quote]Originally posted by sc_markt:

    <strong>My gut feeling is that this is not good for Apple.</strong><hr></blockquote>

    Or Nvidia.

    Or ATi.

    Or Matrox.

    Or Linux....

    I'm just hoping it isn't legal, patents are funny things.
  • Reply 5 of 20
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,268member
    My gut says Microsoft doesn't need this after being bombarded with anti trust cases. I think QE and Apple are fine.
  • Reply 6 of 20
    amorphamorph Posts: 7,112member
    Since this impacts a whole lot of things, not just future Apple hardware, I'm going to move it to General Discussion.
  • Reply 7 of 20
    I made this point several months ago in one of my "QE is BS" rants.
  • Reply 8 of 20
    [quote]Originally posted by scott_h_phd:

    <strong>I made this point several months ago in one of my "QE is BS" rants.</strong><hr></blockquote>

    Outside of the ARB_vertex_program extension, I don't see what impact this has on OpenGL.

    So what if MS claims IP over vertex programmability, right now that stuff is so limited to specific GPU's, it's not of much use. It might cause some headaches for game publishers who are always needing the latest/greatest tricks out of their GPUs, but there's no way QE uses this specific extension.

    An audience member asked the Apple engineers about MS's claims of IP at the OpenGL Graphics Programmability session of WWDC where they were showing off the vertex shader builder in Jaguar. They said they were confident that it wouldn't be a problem.

    Yeah, I don't put it past Microsoft to do everything in their power to squash competing technologies (they want everyone to use windows and Direct3d of course), but I don't see any connection between vertex shading and the rest of OpenGL, much less the implentation of Quartz Extreme on top of it.
  • Reply 9 of 20
    airslufairsluf Posts: 1,861member
  • Reply 10 of 20
    buonrottobuonrotto Posts: 6,368member
    Scott never made any specific points about QE except the idea that Microsoft could "buy" OpenGL and kill it.

    The short reply is: then Apple will have to find another avenue, won't they?
  • Reply 11 of 20
    I don't think Apple or other OpenGL companies have much to worry about (don't know about Linux), but it merits monitoring. They could review the IP and go another direction. I wonder if M$ Direct X violates anyone else's IP? This is probably why M$ bought the SGI patents. They can cover their a$$ and have good bargaining chips.
  • Reply 12 of 20
    [quote]Originally posted by AirSluf:


    Yeah, only every one that's better than a GF2X or RageProLT.


    heh... okay, true enough.



    Unless they say the T&L engines have to be licenced because they specifically are designed to conduct vertex and fragment shading. An implementation of the spec in hardware is still an implementation of the algorithm, which is the actual intellectual property.


    Okay, that's an angle I hadn't considered. I can't imagine them being successful with that, but that doesn't mean they won't try it (or won't have some success.. i'm a developer, not an IP lawyer).

    And apologies if it seemed like I was singling out scott in my reply, I wasn't. I haven't read his "QE is BS" rants.
  • Reply 13 of 20
    randycat99randycat99 Posts: 1,919member
    Astronaut Jones- what terrific username. I love those skits on SNL! Word......dig......right on....how 'bout you raise up that dress, bend over, and let me slap dat @ss! Tracy Morgan rox!
  • Reply 14 of 20
    sc_marktsc_markt Posts: 1,393member
  • Reply 15 of 20
    mac voyermac voyer Posts: 1,283member
    This move by MS is as legal as... Oh... buying up leading companies in a given industry and throwing out the competition so that the best products only work on your platform.

    Why give MS grief over their legal maneuvers? They are conducting business! They are seeking to take advantage of their ownership of intellectual properties to make a profit from them. Maybe it will hurt Apple. Maybe it won?t. It?s irrelevant. MS does not have to avoid hurting its competition. It only has to avoid doing so illegally.

    MS is not the ?beast? of Revelation. And it is way over the top to use such terms about a company, no matter how hated by some. Apple tries to undermine MS every chance they get. Apple is not on the side of the angels either. They are both cutthroat companies. The problem for Apple is that MS wields a bigger knife.
  • Reply 16 of 20
    aquaticaquatic Posts: 5,602member
    hmurchison it's too late. Bu$h got (s)elected, remember?

    I mean, if the DoJ looks the other way when DEAD people from Colorado write in to support M$'s "Freedom to Innovate" then why will they care about this?

    I say, we need separation of economy from government, just like separation of church and state. Oh, and f*ck Bu$h!

    *laughs and then goes off to cry in a corner
  • Reply 17 of 20
    thoth2thoth2 Posts: 277member
    [quote]Originally posted by AirSluf:


    Unless they say the T&L engines have to be licenced because they specifically are designed to conduct vertex and fragment shading. An implementation of the spec in hardware is still an implementation of the algorithm, which is the actual intellectual property.


    I don't have any idea what that engine blah blah blah stuff means, but the last bit of this is not technically true. The algorithm itself cannot be patented. In patent law, algorithms do not meet the test of utility. An algorithm has to be implemented in some way to have a physically detectable effect - so screen output is enough. I'm not sure that this makes a big difference, because if you use the algorithm in the same way to make the same effect on screen, then you probably infringe.

    However, OpenGL being an open standard, I'm not sure if alot of this stuff isn't already in the public domain, especially if portions of the work on this particular thing were contributed to by people outside of SGI. You can't set up a system whereby you create a technology open to all to contribute to, take their neat stuff and then close it and ask them to pay for it (their own stuff). That would pretty much be the definition of unfair competition. I'd also be interested to know what the terms of the OpenGL license were/are. I think M$ might be surprised how hard it is to change the terms of this type of license (and I might be surprised at how easy it is...)

  • Reply 18 of 20
    airslufairsluf Posts: 1,861member
  • Reply 19 of 20
    thoth2thoth2 Posts: 277member
    [quote]Originally posted by AirSluf:

    <strong>Fair enough.

    What if SGI had started OpenGL with their own proprietary intellectual property (which they did) but never gave permanent written licence to the OpenGL ARB for use of that property. Then later sold the used but possibly not formally grandfathered technologies?

    That is the rub of where I was trying to go. Lawyers are going to have a lucrative field-day billing on this one, even if we never hear another peep about it.

    [ 07-12-2002: Message edited by: AirSluf ]</strong><hr></blockquote>

    That would be an interesting problem. The way I see it is, they've come up with a way to build up a user base for their technology by offering its use for free. Now, down the line, they have lots of people developing for it and making products based on the technology only to have the rug pulled out from under them. So, if they wish to be able to benefit from all of the work ($$) they've put in to develop their products, they have to pay the owner of the formerly open technology.

    The ability to do this type of bait and switch, would of course come down to the content of the extant licenses (of which I have no knowledge). For instance, if the licenses are for a specific term, then M$ would have to wait for the expiration of that term b/4 they could do this coercive move. If the licenses are open ended, I'm not sure they can do it all for products previously developed based on the terms of the old license. They certainly could charge for future development using the patented tech, though. Then the problem becomes what's new development vs updating old implementations.

    Think of it like this, you live in a house that you rent from the owner. He sells the house. Its now somebody else's house, but he takes subject to your lease. He can't raise your rent, he can't add conditions to the property etc. Your position has not changed. Once your lease it up, though, he can do what he wants.

    With no permanent license, the terms of any new license could not possibly be retroactive (like charging for past implementations). They might be able to charge for future sales of old implementations though.

    I'm sure that's clear as mud. Forgive me. I'm a little sleepy after lunch. Yay lawyers!

  • Reply 20 of 20
    leonisleonis Posts: 3,427member

    There are thousands of different standards in the entire OpenGL universe

    The IP or patent that M$ owns is the one they bought from SGI. And this only applies to version 1.4, 1.3, 1.2 or earlier (of the portion they have).

    Many effects studios like ILM, Pixar, Digital Domain, WETA, Mills.....all have their own programmer writing their own OpenGL code. M$ can't just go there and ask for the fee.


    Apple has its own OpenGL library. They bought Conix back on 1998 and Apple's Quartz Extreme should be based on the library set made my them.


    The upcoming OpenGL 2.0 is a totally different animal. The code base is totally different to the current 1.4 standard. Currently the bigger developer of OpenGL 2.0 is 3D Lab. Again...M$ can't touch it either

    By the way. I really hate the way that ZDNet and CNet write their news. Always make things look like the sky is falling

    [ 07-13-2002: Message edited by: Leonis ]</p>
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