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DRM Work Piling Up For The Linux 3.4 Kernel

Linux Kernel

Published on 11 March 2012 09:10 AM EDT
Written by Michael Larabel in Linux Kernel
6 Comments

While it looks like there's still another week before the Linux 3.3 kernel will be released and thus marking the merge window for the Linux 3.4 kernel opening, here's some of the DRM graphics changes you can expect to see merged.

- Various Intel driver updates, primarily aimed at the Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge hardware support. This merge will bring some performance improvements to the Intel DRM driver. Those boosts can be thanked to PPGTT and swizzling. Also of note with the Intel Linux 3.4 DRM is the proper interlaced mode output support.

- With the Intel work, RC6 support by default should finally happen this next cycle. That can offer improved power management and more performance enhancements for Sandy Bridge CPUs.

- VMware's interesting virtual GPU driver for their virtualization platform will also see some improvements on the DRM side. In particular, there will be fake page-flipping support.

- The Exynos driver has seen some commits, but nothing that's really exciting for this ARM-based mobile graphics processor.

- The i2c bus has been made faster (doubled in speed), which can make EDID block reads faster. This is for the Radeon and Intel DRM drivers.

- Various Radeon KMS changes. Perhaps the biggest item is the 2D color tiling support for Evergreen and Northern Islands (AMD Radeon HD 5000 / 6000 series GPUs). The 2D color tiling, of course, leads to performance improvements in many OpenGL workloads, see color tiling benchmarks. The support already exists for older generations of Radeon graphics cards.

- Hitting David Airlie's DRM Git repository just yesterday was the big GMA500 Poulsbo driver update. This includes cleaning some of the code and various fixes, but the big addition for this cycle is the introduction of the Intel Medfield hardware support. It's still tough to find Medfield Atoms at the moment, but when the hardware is out there for smart-phones and other mobile devices, the open-source GMA500 Poulsbo driver can be used. The big downside though is that it's all un-accelerated at the moment, otherwise you're bound to using binary blobs.

While that's some nice work for the next Linux kernel, there's still some items that haven't hit the tree, at least not yet.

- There's still no open-source AMD Radeon HD 7000 series support. AMD hasn't commented whether they will be targeting the "Southern Islands" hardware enablement for the Linux 3.4 kernel merge window (the code might be caught up in their notorious legal review), but the hardware has been available for months and the open-source support is still non-existent. At least they have taken care of some prep work for getting the DRM code to be merged, but again it's a bit disappointing with how long it's taken for this latest generation of AMD Radeon graphics processors to gain open-source support.

- What hasn't been merged into David's drm-next tree yet is the Nouveau work. With the Nouveau work for open-source NVIDIA there should be GPU re-clocking support, which can dramatically boost the graphics performance and conserve power consumption a bit in some situations.

- The UDL/DisplayLink KMS driver hasn't been merged.

- The VGEM fake DRM driver doesn't appear ready for merging with Linux 3.4.

- Also still not ready is the VIA KMS driver.

That about wraps it up for now, expect more once the Linux 3.4 kernel merger window is open later this month.

About The Author
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 and or contacted via .
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