Barrier for Nvidia & AMD GPUs?

Hello Purists,

I’m mostly looking for clarity on this question if you can help, what’s the exact barrier for using Nvidia or AMD GPUs, is it because they have propriety firmware and that libre firmware cannot be implemented on the hardware, are these companies actively preventing it?

I’ve done quite a bit of searching I think it is as I’ve suggested in the question but am looking to clarify, so I don’t feel confused or uncertain.


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Yes, exactly this.

Who knows? :slight_smile: Most likely they don’t, but for some reasons they don’t publish source code of their firmware. AMD has published documentation for their graphics cards in the past, nVidia is more closed.

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Thanks for clearing things up for me, hopefully this will change in the future.

I can imagine it will change for AMD. I was not aware there is also firmware involved. But the drivers are in the Linux kernel.
Not so for Nvidia. More than 5 years ago, this happend (and nothing has changed ever since):

For this reason I’d always prefer an AMD card over Nvidia, no matter what the specs are :wink:


What makes you say this though?

You want me to explain my thoughts of two years ago?
Well, traditionally AMD has been more free software friendly than nvida. I guess that’s why. Nvidia only recently begun to open up a tiny bit.


And for evidence in favor of AMD, AMD has gotten their APUs to use Coreboot in Chromebooks.. While it might be a custom solution, it’s a good sign. Another good sign is AMD working on getting Coreboot in their server chips.. This would be a good practical first step, even if its more of a “You can replace PSP with Coreboot” rather than shipping with it. And finally, AMD is (at least rumoured to) be looking to hire a Coreboot developer..

It’s not a slam dunk for AMD (since you still have their PSP). Those are promising signs though, and should be encouraged. And the easiest way to encourage is to vote with your wallet. They are a company after all.


and that’s when the middle finger happened … :smiley:


hi yourself and welcome !

please see > with a grain of salt :wink:

relating to Purism > Roadmap and Intel FSP

also with a grain of salt >

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yeah for AMD and nVidia since they are pretty much the BIG names in GPU today almost everything is binary (means no source, no auditing, from-scratch-nothing-software)

they hold TONS of patents and copyrighted “intelectual-property” for commercial profit and mostly for control. probably heavy government funding since back-doors can be more easily hidden that way , etc.

firmware and video-BIOS is definately closed as is the documentation and schematics, production means and technology used. if you have a dedicated GPU in your computer it pretty much means that you are running a black-box withing a black-box.

hmm … all this talk about black-boxes has made me think of the movie the-room-2019


But they both now need binary blobs in order for the display to work, so if anything they are both going downhill. I can boot into PureOS with a 2009 Nvidia graphics card and it works, while it is laggy as hell when using web browsers, it still works.

Wow that is actually pretty good. I just hope that they will make graphics cards that do not need binary blobs, like Intel’s graphics cards.

From what I heard you can disable PSP from any updated BIOSs.

Does this replace PSP sorry I am a bit confused here.

Thank you :slight_smile:

Sure I will take a look I have bookmarked your comment, thanks for the links :slight_smile:

Yeah screw them. I am hoping in the new future there would be an open source graphics card.

Again I wish there was an open source graphics card.

Is that movie a reboot of the room from 2003?

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What I would guess (after rereading the article) is that the CPUs would still have the PSP, with the ability to replace it with Coreboot. And that would be fine with me. AMD can make PSP, and pitch it as a good system, as long as I have the ability to change it. Bonus points if they open-source their PSP (which it’s seems they might, if they can get the rights for a reasonable price).

Neat! That’s also a cool feature (haven’t really dug into the issue, but cool to know it might be possible).

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I am glad their CPUs are much better than Intel’s CPUs in terms of privacy.

But with graphics cards it seems the opposite, AMD requires these binary blobs whereas Intel graphics cards don’t require binary blobs. Is there some article where AMD might actually consider getting rid of this binary blob requirement?

It can. There is the open-source AMDGPU for Linux distros. They also have AMDGPU PRO, which includes some proprietary code. This is a perfectly fine solution, in my opinion, since it gives the user control of what they run on their system.

Personally, I have the AMDGPU drivers and haven’t run into an issue. AMDGPU PRO may let certain applications perform better, it may not. It would depend on what you need to run on your system.

How do you know it won’t invade your privacy since it is using closed source software?

In regards to AMDGPU PRO, I don’t, for the exact reason you described. I use the AMDGPU drivers though, mainly because I see no benefit from the additional code. In certain cases (mainly OpenGL 4.6, if I read correctly) AMDGPU PRO gives an advantage. That is not my case.

Blender doesn’t use OpenGL 4.6 but it can profit from other enhancements on the Pro driver or the enterprise as it’s called but it requires an LTS kernel otherwise you have to make do with the Adrenaline version that is open-source (it’s basically the windows to ubuntu counterpart driver)

for most use cases in 3d accelaration and visual estethics it is hard to distinguish between the two if you are not a profesional but if you need more than 8bit color depth per channel and color calibration then it becomes more easy to choose.

but returning on-topic … this was about privacy/security not performance/efficiency/estethics

oh and intel doesn’t have any meaningful foothold in the retail space with dedicated graphics cards so it’s kind of a niche thing to talk about them … yes the Librem laptops use an intel igpu which is mostly free-software but it can’t be compared to a full fledged graphics card in terms of performance. it’s meant to be energy efficient on a battery powered device …

That’s not true. What you’re disabling is the interface by which the main CPU can talk to the PSP. The thing itself is still very much active.

Unfortunately, and I say this as someone who’s used only AMD processors since 2004, Intel makes the most trustworthy modern x86 CPUs. This is purely because of the ME Cleaner software which allows you to gut the ME and rip out everything except the most basic initialisation code (there’s also the so-called “HAP bit”, but I don’t fully trust that it actually does disable the bastard).

If you’re OK with looking back a couple of generations, the Bulldozer core CPUs (AMD, socket AM3) are the fastest x86 chip you can get which still allows the user to maintain full control over it. I’ve recently upgraded my two main machines to Ryzen chips, and I’m explicitly holding on to my old FX-8350 builds for exactly this reason. I know that they have a separate CPU inside them as well - the System Management Unit; and that the SMU’s firmware is cryptographically signed… but it’s a symmetric crypto signature and there was an exploit in an older version of the firmware which allowed you to get this key (abstract and video).