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The main competing factor was the price of hardware and raw performance in 3D computer games, which is greatly affected by the efficient translation of API calls into GPU opcodes.The display driver and the video decoder are inherent parts of the graphics card: hardware designed to assist in the calculations necessary for the decoding of video streams.Based on this understanding, device drivers may be written and legally published under any software license.In rare cases, a manufacturer's driver source code is available on the Internet without a free license.This means that the code can be studied and altered for personal use, but the altered (and usually the original) source code cannot be freely distributed.Solutions to bugs in the driver cannot be shared, significantly reducing the utility of such drivers in comparison to free and open-source drivers.

Binary drivers used in the context of operating systems that are prone to ongoing development and change (such as Linux) create problems for end users and package maintainers.These problems, which affect system stability, security and performance, are the main reason for the independent development of free and open-source drivers.When no technical documentation is available, an understanding of the underlying hardware is often gained by clean-room reverse engineering.Graphics device drivers are written for specific hardware to work within a specific operating system kernel and to support a range of APIs used by applications to access the graphics hardware.They may also control output to the display if the display driver is part of the graphics hardware.

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