1. Computers
  2. Display Drivers
  3. Graphics Cards
  4. Memory
  5. Motherboards
  6. Processors
  7. Software
  8. Storage
  9. Operating Systems


Facebook RSS Twitter Twitter Google Plus


Phoronix Test Suite

OpenBenchmarking.org

An Open-Source, Reverse-Engineered Mali GPU Driver

Michael Larabel

Published on 21 January 2012
Written by Michael Larabel
Page 1 of 3 - 5 Comments

There is some exciting news to break today on Phoronix... Coming up at FOSDEM (the Free Open-Source Developers' European Meeting in Brussels) will be the formal announcement of an open-source, reverse-engineered graphics driver for the ARM Mali graphics processor. OpenGL ES triangles are in action on open-source code. Will this be the start of fully open-source ARM graphics drivers for Android and Linux?

Mali is ARM's current family of GPUs that they pair with the ARM Cortex processors for some hardware. The Mali-400 was ARM's first OpenGL ES 2.0 conformant multi-core GPU with 2D and 3D hardware acceleration. Up to this point the Mali graphics hardware has been supported by ARM with a closed-source driver stack -- and no open-source DRM/KMS driver in the mainline kernel tree like what's been done at Samsung with Exynos and Texas Instruments with omapdrm; albeit neither of those provide hardware acceleration, just mode-setting and basic support.

The Mali-200 is another supported graphics processor by this project, which can handle OpenGL ES 1.1/2.0 and OpenVG 1.1, which up to now has only been backed by a binary blob. Assuming the driver is still developed until mainline-maturity, this Mali driver will be the first ARM graphics hardware with a full open-source 3D-capable stack. Embedded GPUs have been a great big mess for Linux, even for Intel SoCs. The ARM Mali design comes out of ARM Norway.


This is where the ARM Mali was designed... The wonderful city of Trondheim. (Yes, that also happened to be the Phoronix Test Suite 1.0 codename a few years prior.)

This open-source stack is coming by reverse-engineering ARM's official Mali GPU driver, which they thought was an impossible feat. The reverse-engineering has been sponsored by Codethink for the past several months by Luc Verhaegen, the often controversial X.Org developer (for his radical ambitions) and former SuSE developer. Verhaegen is the one responsible for the VIA "Unichrome" X.Org driver stack, was one of the SUSE developers responsible for much of the efforts on the RadeonHD driver, a Flashrom contributor, then a Nokia contractor, and for the past few months has been doing Mali reverse-engineering as his latest project at Codethink.


Luc Verhaegen, the developer behind this work, at XDC2011 Chicago pouring Phoronix beer for Egbert Eich, his former SUSE/RadeonHD colleague...When not busy sampling American beers, Luc's been secretly working away at reverse-engineering the Mali Linux driver.

With the FOSDEM speaker schedule being due today, his talk abstract is becoming public, and thus I am now permitted to share what the "open-source announcement at FOSDEM" is that I've been hinting at for weeks on Twitter. The goal of this work is "a free software project aimed at providing an open source graphics driver for ARM's excellent and increasingly popular Mali GPUs."

However, if you are hoping the code-drop, which will immediately follow FOSDEM, is going to contain a full open-source DRM and Gallium3D driver, that is sadly not the case. The code is not up to the point of a full driver stack ready for mainline integration.

<< Previous Page
1
Latest Linux Hardware Reviews
  1. CompuLab Intense-PC2: An Excellent, Fanless, Mini PC Powered By Intel's i7 Haswell
  2. From The Atom 330 To Haswell ULT: Intel Linux Performance Benchmarks
  3. AMD Radeon R9 285 Tonga Performance On Linux
  4. Apotop Wi-Copy
Latest Linux Articles
  1. AMD Moves Forward With Unified Linux Driver Strategy, New Kernel Driver
  2. MSI: Update Your BIOS From The Linux Desktop
  3. NVIDIA vs. AMD 2D Linux Drivers: Catalyst Is Getting Quite Good At 2D
  4. 15-Way GPU Comparison With Mesa 10.3 + Linux 3.17
Latest Linux News
  1. Following GCC, Clang Looks To Default To C11
  2. Users/Developers Threatening Fork Of Debian GNU/Linux
  3. Linux 3.18-rc1 Released One Week Early With Many Changes
  4. The VC4 Gallium3D Driver Is Still Moving Along For The Raspberry Pi
  5. Direct3D 9 Support Might Land Within Mainline Mesa 3D Drivers
  6. OpenGL Preview Benchmarks For NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 970
  7. HOPE: The Ease Of Python With The Speed Of C++
  8. Vitesse: Using LLVM To Speed Up Databases
  9. AMD Is Restructuring Again, Losing 7% Of Employees
  10. Linux Testing Of The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970
Latest Forum Discussions
  1. NVIDIA Presents Its Driver Plans To Support Mir/Wayland & KMS On Linux
  2. AMD Is Restructuring Again, Losing 7% Of Employees
  3. Bye bye BSD, Hello Linux: A Sys Admin's Story
  4. Open-Source AMD Fusion E-350 Support Takes A Dive
  5. Upgrade to Kaveri, very slow VDPAU performance
  6. ChromeOS Drops Support For EXT2/EXT3/EXT4 File-Systems
  7. Lennart Poettering On The Open-Source Community: A Sick Place To Be In
  8. The Slides Announcing The New "AMDGPU" Kernel Driver