Intel Hardware Context Support Patches Arrive
Written by Michael Larabel in Intel on 15 February 2012 at 05:40 AM EST. 3 Comments
New patches have turned up for the Intel Linux kernel DRM driver to implement hardware context support.

Ben Widawsky had wrote some hardware context support patches more than a year ago, but now he's revised them and is calling for comments. Hardware context support is needed now in order to support OpenGL transform feedback in the presence of geometry shaders. The Intel graphics processors have supported hardware-based context switching going back to "Gen4" hardware through the latest Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge graphics processors.

As explained by Ben in this mailing list message, "HW contexts provide a way for the GPU to save an restore certain state in between batchbuffer boundaries. Typically, GPU clients must re-emit the entire state every time they run because the client does not know what has been destroyed since the last time. With these patches the driver will emit special instructions to do this on behalf of the client if it has registered a context, and included that with the batchbuffer."

This work could be a candidate for the Linux 3.4 kernel.
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Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the web-site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience and being the largest web-site devoted to Linux hardware reviews, particularly for products relevant to Linux gamers and enthusiasts but also commonly reviewing servers/workstations and embedded Linux devices. Michael has written more than 10,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics hardware drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated testing software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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