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Android AOSP Leader Quits Over Binary GPU Drivers

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  • Android AOSP Leader Quits Over Binary GPU Drivers

    Phoronix: Android AOSP Leader Quits Over Binary GPU Drivers

    Google's maintainer of the Android Open-Source Project (AOSP), has quit the project out of being frustrated with the lack of open-source ARM GPU drivers. In particular, Google's flagship devices not working with the Android open-source project over no vendor-backed open-source graphics drivers...

    http://www.phoronix.com/vr.php?view=MTQzMDc

  • #2
    Somebody's going to have to explain this one to me...

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    • #3
      I'm not a developer so I may be wrong here, but I though the worst thing about android is that it requires a custom kernel to support every single device. It must be frustrating to maintain an entire stack that talks to hundreds or thousends of shitty vendor hacked and buggy kernels. Google will surely have to sort this mess some time right? Maybe with ARMv8?

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Figueiredo View Post
        I'm not a developer so I may be wrong here, but I though the worst thing about android is that it requires a custom kernel to support every single device. It must be frustrating to maintain an entire stack that talks to hundreds or thousends of shitty vendor hacked and buggy kernels. Google will surely have to sort this mess some time right? Maybe with ARMv8?
        This is not an Android problem, it is a general problem with ARM platforms. There is little to no standardization of low-level peripherals, for hardware discovery, booting, and so on. Which means that every device must use specific kernels with exactly the right drivers and right board configuration baked in.

        I'm pretty sure that Microsoft is only using Qualcomm SoCs on Windows Phones for that reason, too.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by johnc View Post
          Somebody's going to have to explain this one to me...
          Lack of open source drivers on ARM means the idea of the "Android Open Source Project" (AOSP) is basically worthless because you cant do ANYTHING with the AOSP because the Systems-On-A-Chip (SoC) require closed-source-only drivers. The project maintainer finally got so fed up with it that he said "SCREW IT!" and quit.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Ericg View Post
            Lack of open source drivers on ARM means the idea of the "Android Open Source Project" (AOSP) is basically worthless because you cant do ANYTHING with the AOSP because the Systems-On-A-Chip (SoC) require closed-source-only drivers. The project maintainer finally got so fed up with it that he said "SCREW IT!" and quit.
            Is the purpose of the AOSP to have every line of executing code open source, or is it just about the Android-specific code? Because I don't know of there ever being any GPU drivers that are open source... so to throw one's hands in the air now would seem to indicate that something has changed.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by brent View Post
              This is not an Android problem, it is a general problem with ARM platforms. There is little to no standardization of low-level peripherals, for hardware discovery, booting, and so on. Which means that every device must use specific kernels with exactly the right drivers and right board configuration baked in.

              I'm pretty sure that Microsoft is only using Qualcomm SoCs on Windows Phones for that reason, too.
              Microsoft is using intel too is it not?

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              • #8
                Article gets it wrong

                Apparently, Qualcomm didn't allow Google to release *the binaries* for their Adreno GPU used in the 2013 N7 on AOSP. All the other venders do. Every Nexus device uses proprietary firmware. When the N4 was new Qualcomm also made problems. They were resolved and JBQ posted the firmware files for the N4. Now he worked for 6 months to ensure that the new N7 gets the same treatment but Qualcomm again made problems. That's the issue. It hasn't really anything to do with open source drivers. Those would certainly violate Qualcomms rights in some way so they could block it either way.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by phoronix View Post
                  Phoronix: Android AOSP Leader Quits Over Binary GPU Drivers

                  Google's maintainer of the Android Open-Source Project (AOSP), has quit the project out of being frustrated with the lack of open-source ARM GPU drivers. In particular, Google's flagship devices not working with the Android open-source project over no vendor-backed open-source graphics drivers...

                  http://www.phoronix.com/vr.php?view=MTQzMDc
                  He didn't quit because Qualcomm wouldn't open up its drivers. He quitted because Qualcomm wouldn't allow Google to publish factory images and binaries for the new nexus 7. He said there's no point of being the maintainer of an OS that can't boot a device for lack of a GPU driver (I'm paraphrasing). I guess he would love to have open source code for GPUs in AOSP (who wouldn't) but it seems to me he is frustrated because he is unable to test AOSP builds in a Nexus device.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by tech05 View Post
                    Apparently, Qualcomm didn't allow Google to release *the binaries* for their Adreno GPU used in the 2013 N7 on AOSP. All the other venders do. Every Nexus device uses proprietary firmware. When the N4 was new Qualcomm also made problems. They were resolved and JBQ posted the firmware files for the N4. Now he worked for 6 months to ensure that the new N7 gets the same treatment but Qualcomm again made problems. That's the issue. It hasn't really anything to do with open source drivers. Those would certainly violate Qualcomms rights in some way so they could block it either way.
                    That makes more sense. Can't he log into the device and copy the drivers out? It's pretty sad Qualcomm won't let the binaries be posted in the tree. Qualcomm seems pretty chum with Microsoft though.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by johnc View Post
                      That makes more sense. Can't he log into the device and copy the drivers out? It's pretty sad Qualcomm won't let the binaries be posted in the tree. Qualcomm seems pretty chum with Microsoft though.
                      Yea he could do that (as that what third party ROMs do) but that doesn't give him (or Google) the right to distribute them. I'd bet if MS wanted to distribute Qualcomm drivers separately they'd still complain.

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                      • #12
                        Note to self: Don't buy Qualcom powered devices.

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                        • #13
                          Qualcomm should better play nice with Google Android. I think that being chosen as a reference platform, through a Nexus device, is a key move for the broader success of a soc generation and maybe one their biggest source of income. It is not like Qualcomm has a monopoly in the ARM space, there are strong alternatives. If I was at the Google helm, I would choose nvidia for the next nexus and I would make a deal to specifically support AOSP with drivers as required.

                          If Google knew that these kind of problem would exist, it was a mistake to build the new Nexus 7 with a Qualcomm chip in the first place. IMO, these things should be arranged internally between companies at an early stage.
                          Last edited by zoomblab; 08-08-2013, 03:34 AM.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by jrdls View Post
                            He didn't quit because Qualcomm wouldn't open up its drivers. He quitted because Qualcomm wouldn't allow Google to publish factory images and binaries for the new nexus 7. He said there's no point of being the maintainer of an OS that can't boot a device for lack of a GPU driver (I'm paraphrasing). I guess he would love to have open source code for GPUs in AOSP (who wouldn't) but it seems to me he is frustrated because he is unable to test AOSP builds in a Nexus device.
                            And he was blamed for this and couldnt defend himself because he was under NDA

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                            • #15
                              this will be history soon

                              This will all be history soon when the new 22nm Atoms arrive and blow all this ARM stuff out of the water as far as performance goes. Don't get me wrong, I like ARM and I'm no fan of Intel and x86 but this has gone on for long enough. No open source drivers for ARM GPUs, custom kernels and bootloaders for ARM and so on.
                              The 22nm Atoms will change all this as they will have Intel open source GPUs with Intel finally dropping those crappy PowerVR GPUs they used in Atoms. ARM will feel the pressure for the first time and they can make some changes ( they already started some unification work in the kernel with DTS and all that ) and open source the Mali drivers or at least provide documentation or they can just sit while I and others buy Intel powered smartphones and tablets.

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