Intel Releases A Boatload Of Haswell Documentation
As an extra holiday present for Linux and open-source fans, Intel has quietly released a large batch of new programming documentation that covers their latest-generation Haswell graphics cores. The new "programmer's reference manuals" cover the 2013 Haswell HD Graphics, Iris Graphics, and Iris Pro Graphics. This massive batch of documentation is spread across twelve volumes and does document their hardware registers.
Intel's Haswell documentation is nearly 5,000 pages of new technical specifications and programming documentation and covers everything from mode-setting to the 3D engine to GPGPU to performance counters and video acceleration -- with the latter items being not something we've always seen by hardware companies when they've tried to be open about their drivers and documentation.
The full list of new hardware documentation coverage includes:
- Performance Counters
- Introduction To Haswell
- Command Opcodes
- GPU Overview
- Configurations / Variations
- Memory Views
- Command Stream Programming
- GPGPU Engine
- Media VDBOX
- Media VEBOX
- Display Watermark
- PCI-E Configuration Registers
Those wanting to check out the new Intel Haswell graphics hardware documentation can freely grab this documentation from Intel's 01.org web-site.
This is just Intel's latest documentation drop and they have been documenting their graphics hardware for several years now. This documentation is on top of complete open-source Linux graphics driver support Intel has been providing for years. Intel employs more than two dozen open-source Linux graphics developers and continues to expand.
For those concerned about open-source graphics driver support on Linux, Intel continues to be the best option. While their hardware isn't the most powerful compared to discrete GPUs, Haswell can provide quite mid-range graphics performance and Broadwell's Linux graphics performance will be even more great.
open-source AMD fans are best off with a Radeon HD 6000 series GPU while the Radeon HD 7000 series hardware driver is finally now reaching a mature state and the new AMD Hawaii open-source code is still in its infancy. Intel meanwhile already has open-source code mainlined for next year's Broadwell processors.
On the NVIDIA side, most of the open-source effort is still through the reverse-engineered Nouveau driver. Only in September NVIDIA committed to begin some open-source support and documentation but to date their public open-source support is still limited.
In ending, Intel had a really great 2013 when it came to Linux support with decent "out of the box" open-source Linux support for Haswell when it launched this summer and the driver support and performance matured a lot in the months since Haswell. We've also seen the driver support for Broadwell laid. I talked more about the open-source Intel improvements this calendar year at length a few days ago within Intel Haswell Linux Performance Improved A Lot In 2013. My hopes for Intel Linux in 2014 would be reaching OpenGL 4.0 support (their driver is still limited to GL 3.3), continued performance improvements against Windows, and their Intel Beignet OpenCL implementation being matured and coming into a state ready for use by Linux desktop users.
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