Broadcom's New Open-Source GPU Stack Earns Praise
Written by Michael Larabel in Hardware on 5 March 2014 at 12:17 PM EST. 13 Comments
Last week we talked about Broadcom finally open-sourcing their VideoCore IV 3D Graphics Stack and it is indeed the real McCoy, but the $10,000 Quake III bounty has yet to be claimed for getting it to work on the Raspberry Pi.

Luc Verhaegen, the former SUSE employee that was one of the original RadeonHD driver developers and then as of late has been independently working on the Lima driver as a reverse-engineered ARM Mali driver, wrote a blog post today sharing happiness for Broadcom's open-source play.

In late 2012 when Broadcom and the Raspberry Pi Foundation unveiled their original GPU driver code and every leaped for joy, Luc was one of the first to point out the flaws in Broadcom's open-source effort. We later wrote about how the Raspberry Pi driver turned out to be crap.

Luc's blog post today doesn't carry a negative tone but surprise and happiness for Broadcom's latest open-source driver initiative. "I received an email from Eben Upton last friday, where he pointed out the big news. I replied that I would have to take a thorough look first, but then also stated that I didn't expect Eben to email me if this hadn't been the real thing. I then congratulated him extensively. And congratulations really are in order Oktober of 2012, my understanding was that the RPI foundation wasn't interested in wielding that power to reach those goals which I and many others hold dear. And I was really surprised when it now was revealed that they did, as I had personally given up on this ever happening, and I had assumed that the RPI foundation was not intending to go all the way."

The big drop last week from Broadcom included a user manual for the 3D graphics core, sample code for a different Broadcom SoC and runs on the ARM core, and sample code that includes header files that would benefit VideoCore reverse-engineering. There's also a promise of releasing more VideoCore documentation and a "properly free" bootloader.

Luc now calls Broadcom second only to Intel in open-source driver friendliness and even considers their work to be more friendly than AMD's open-source Linux driver initiatives. "All in all, this Broadcom release is the best news I have heard since I started on the open ARM GPU path, it actually is the best news I've had since AMD accepted our proposal to free the ATI Radeon (back in june 2007). This release fully makes up for the bad communication of Oktober 2012, and has opened the door to making the BCM2835 the most free SoC out there."

Read more on Luc's blog.

About The Author
Author picture

Michael Larabel is the principal author of and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 10,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via

Related Hardware News
Popular News
Trending Reviews & Featured Articles