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

Allwinner SoC Still Unlikely For Upstream Linux Kernel

Hardware

Published on 05 June 2013 09:27 PM EDT
Written by Michael Larabel in Hardware
20 Comments

While Allwinner ARM SoCs are found within massive amounts of the low-cost Android tablets manufactured in China, and there is some open-source Allwinner Linux kernel support, it's still unlikely that the patches will land upstream anytime soon.

A discussion started on the Linux kernel mailing list today entitled getting allwinner SoC support upstream. This isn't the first time a discussion has been had about upstream Allwinner System-on-a-Chip support in Linux, but the outcome appears the same.

The key hurdles in the Allwinner Linux support continue to appear as:

- Allwinner Technology still has no interest (or doesn't know how/care) to interact with the upstream Linux kernel development community. Without Allwinner as a company and their developers being interested in seeing their ARM SoC support mainlined in the Linux kernel, it's hard for their patches to advance in any substantive way and for future SoCs to be supported at the same time in upstream.

- Allwinner is using their own DeviceTree-like configuration system called "Fex" rather than DeviceTree. The Linux kernel has had DeviceTree in the mainline Linux kernel for years as a data structure and language for describing hardware specifics. Most ARM Linux hardware is now configured in a DeviceTree format while Allwinner appears happy with Fex. To upstream developers, they feel it's a case of Allwinner suffering from the "not invented here" syndrome or the company not being aware of DeviceTree. It's unlikely the upstream ARM developers will accept new ARM Linux support unless it's using DeviceTree.

- Right now the Allwinner Linux kernel patches are in the form of five nearly-identical drivers from the sun3i up through the sun7i. Most of the code is shared between all their SoCs so unless they were to unify this support, it's unlikely upstream developers will want to take on the extra weight.

Those are the three reasons right now. It's understandable that the Linux kernel developers don't want to budge on their stance in dirtying the kernel source tree with another configuration system and multiple copies of nearly-identical drivers, especially when it's for hardware where the vendor doesn't appear interested in upstream support or maintenance.

Until then, if you're using any low-cost Chinese tablets with an Allwiner A1X SoC, you'll need to continue using separate kernel trees/patches. Even with the out-of-tree status, the Allwinner Linux status is fairly thriving with distributions like Ubuntu and openSUSE being able to boot on them. Their current kernel is based on Linux 3.0 and can be found on GitHub. Other details on the Allwinner Linux happenings can be found at linux-sunxi.org.

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. MSI X99S SLI PLUS On Linux
  2. NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970 Offers Great Linux Performance
  3. CompuLab Intense-PC2: An Excellent, Fanless, Mini PC Powered By Intel's i7 Haswell
  4. From The Atom 330 To Haswell ULT: Intel Linux Performance Benchmarks
Latest Linux Articles
  1. RunAbove: A POWER8 Compute Cloud With Offerings Up To 176 Threads
  2. 6-Way Ubuntu 14.10 Linux Desktop Benchmarks
  3. Ubuntu 14.10 XMir System Compositor Benchmarks
  4. Btrfs RAID HDD Testing On Ubuntu Linux 14.10
Latest Linux News
  1. Fedora 21 Beta & Final Release Slip Further
  2. Mesa 10.3.2 Has A Couple Bug-Fixes
  3. RadeonSI/R600g HyperZ Support Gets Turned Back On
  4. openSUSE Factory & Tumbleweed Are Merging
  5. More Fedora Delays: Fedora 21 Beta Slips
  6. Mono Brings C# To The Unreal Engine 4
  7. Coreboot Now Has Support For Intel Broadwell Hardware
  8. Enlightenment's EFL 1.12 Alpha Has Evas GL-DRM Engine, OpenGL ES 1.1 Support
  9. GTK+ Lands Experimental Backend For Mir Display Server
  10. Ubuntu 14.10 Officially Released
Latest Forum Discussions
  1. AMD Radeon VDPAU Video Performance With Gallium3D
  2. HOPE: The Ease Of Python With The Speed Of C++
  3. Updated and Optimized Ubuntu Free Graphics Drivers
  4. Ubuntu 16.04 Might Be The Distribution's Last 32-Bit Release
  5. Linux hacker compares Solaris kernel code:
  6. Advertisements On Phoronix
  7. Users/Developers Threatening Fork Of Debian GNU/Linux
  8. AMD Releases UVD Video Decode Support For R600 GPUs