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

Poulsbo Looks Better On Ubuntu 12.04, But Still Ugly

Intel

Published on 29 December 2011 08:50 AM EST
Written by Michael Larabel in Intel
4 Comments

Intel GMA500 "Poulsbo" graphics have a better out-of-the-box experience under the forthcoming Ubuntu 12.04 LTS release thanks to improvements in the open-source field, but ultimately it's still an ugly mess.

With the Linux 3.2 kernel, which will be at the heart of Ubuntu 12.04 "Precise Pangolin", there is the improved open-source Poulsbo driver for GMA500/GMA600 series graphics. Poulsbo is the notorious graphics engine found on some low-power Intel systems that's not an in-house Intel design but rather was sourced from Imagination Technologies and their SGX540 design. This has caused a bloody mess now for years.

This open-source Poulsbo driver isn't a full KMS/DDX/Mesa/Gallium3D stack but rather just a DRM/KMS driver that doesn't have the bits to support 3D acceleration. Alan Cox, the author of this driver that's been written out of the various other Poulsbo Linux drivers and bits of public documentation, also says that video acceleration in theory is possible. However, no one has worked on the open-source Poulsbo video code. There's still a long TODO list for this driver.

This driver has been a work-in-progress for a while and with the 3.2 kernel it's received the latest batch of improvements that make it good enough to move out of staging and into the mainline DRM area.

In recently testing the CompuLab Fit-PC2 again for the ARM Cortex-A9 benchmarking from the PandaBoard ES, this system with an Intel Atom Z530 and Poulsbo graphics was still very sluggish for 2D on Ubuntu 11.10. Therefore, I decided to see where things are at in Precise using the latest Ubuntu 12.04 LTS daily media.

Poulsbo Looks Better On Ubuntu 12.04, But Still Ugly


The 2D performance when switching to the new open-source Poulsbo graphics driver is better than the stock experience on earlier Ubuntu releases, but it's still not perfect. At times the performance was sluggish, when calling upon xrandr there would be screen flashes, and there were some other minor problems. Again, there's also no hardware-accelerated 3D or video support at this time, but at least it's open-source and in the mainline kernel. (Soon though you can at least have the GNOME Shell.)

This Intel Poulsbo driver is moving along under Linux, but there's still a lot left to be desired and you're limited to using the Poulsbo binary blobs if you actually want a useful Linux system and are stuck with this hardware.

For those wanting to explore more about the various Poulsbo (GMA500) options or needing a step-by-step guide, consult the Ubuntu Wiki.

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 .
Latest Linux Hardware Reviews
  1. Intel Xeon E5-1680 v3 & E5-2687W v3 Compared To The Core i7 5960X On Linux
  2. Intel 120GB 530 Series SSD Linux Performance
  3. Btrfs/EXT4/XFS/F2FS RAID 0/1/5/6/10 Linux Benchmarks On Four SSDs
  4. AMD's Windows Catalyst Driver Remains Largely Faster Than Linux Drivers
Latest Linux Articles
  1. NVIDIA vs. Nouveau Drivers With Linux 3.18 + Mesa 10.4-devel
  2. Is The Open-Source NVIDIA Driver Fast Enough For Steam On Linux Gaming?
  3. Linux 3.18 File-System Performance Minimally Changed But Possible Regressions
  4. AMD Radeon Gallium3D Is Catching Up & Sometimes Beating Catalyst On Linux
Latest Linux News
  1. More File-System Tests Of The Linux 3.18 Kernel
  2. Using NVIDIA's NVENC On Linux With FFmpeg
  3. There's Talk Again About An "Open To The Core" Ubuntu Laptop
  4. PowerVR SGX Driver Code Gets Leaked
  5. V2 Of KDBUS Published For Linux Kernel Review
  6. VirtualBox 4.3.20 Arrives, Still No Sign Of VirtualBox 4.4
  7. Scientific Linux 6.6 vs. Scientific Linux 7.0 Benchmarks
  8. Qualcomm Looks To Get Into The ARM Server Business
  9. HHVM 3.4 Adds New Features, Support
  10. More Radeon Driver Changes Queued For Linux 3.19
Latest Forum Discussions
  1. Debian Developer Resigns From The Systemd Maintainership Team
  2. Cant get working Kaveri APU - A10-7850k
  3. Script for Fan Speed Control
  4. Roadmap to Catalyst 14.10 ?
  5. Debian Init System Coupling Vote Results
  6. The Slides Announcing The New "AMDGPU" Kernel Driver
  7. Updated and Optimized Ubuntu Free Graphics Drivers
  8. Ubuntu Developers Still Thinking What To Do About Adobe Flash Support