Intel Publishes Initial Skylake Linux Graphics Support
Written by Michael Larabel in Intel on 10 September 2014 at 11:05 AM EDT. 12 Comments
INTEL --
While Intel's Skylake isn't arriving until the second half of 2015 as the successor to Broadwell, the Intel Open-Source Technology Center has already published their initial Linux enablement for Skylake with its HD Graphics "Gen 9" display hardware.

A set of 89 patches were published at the end of last week to enable basic Skylake Gen9 graphics support on Linux. The HD Graphics Gen9 for SKL/Skylake has a third display plane compared to Haswell/Broadwell and features five HDMI/DP/eDP display ports. There should be lots of good multi-display goodness with Skylake besides much faster performance. Since last month we've known Intel was already prepping Skylake Linux HD Graphics support.

The initially added Skylake PCI IDs / product support come in several groups and include:

Skylake ULT GT1: 0x1906
Skylake ULT GT2: 0x1916
Skylake ULT GT2F: 0x1921
Skylake ULT GT3: 0x1926
Skylake ULX GT1: 0x190E
Skylake ULX GT2: 0x191E
Skylake DT GT1: 0x1902
Skylake DT GT2: 0x1912
Skylake Halo GT1: 0x190B
Skylake Halo GT2: 0x191B
Skylake Halo GT3: 0x192B
Skylake SRV GT1: 0x190A
Skylake SRV GT2: 0x191A
Skylake SRV GT3: 0x192A
Skylake WKS GT2: 0x191D

Some other things to note is that Intel Gen 9 graphics completely do away with VGA connector support (finally!), like Bay Trail / Valleyview there is support for two sprite planes per pipe, there is already RC6 and other power-saving features turned on (hopefully it's reliable as with Gen8 it has been buggy in the past), turbo graphics support has already been implemented, etc. Skylake shares a fair amount of driver code still with Broadwell but there's many changes with this patch set and surely many more patches will be coming over the months ahead to tune the support and implement other functionality.

The start of the Intel Skylake Linux patches can be found on intel-gfx. This initial enablement could land as soon as the Linux 3.18 kernel if the patch review were to get done quickly but more likely the first real stab at Skylake graphics will likely be with Linux 3.19 as there's also other enablement to be done within the Linux kernel when it comes to other areas of the processor and the Intel 100 Series "Sunrise Point" chipsets. Besides the kernel work for Gen 9 HD Graphics we're also waiting for the Intel Mesa DRI driver patches to be published and mainlined along with the necessary updates to the xf86-video-intel DDX, the Intel VA-API driver, etc.

Aside from the ninth generation Intel HD Graphics, Skylake is expected to boast support for DDR4 memory, PCI Express 4.0, Thunderbolt 3.0, and SATA Express. Skylake also comes with new instruction set extensions for MPX (Memory Protection), ADX (Multi-Precision Add-Carry), and SHA hashing algorithms.

Stay tuned for Skylake Linux coverage on Phoronix in the months ahead. Kudos to Intel for getting the work started and out in the public for mainline integration a year prior to the hardware debut, just as they've done now for Broadwell, Haswell, and Ivy Bridge. Intel overall still provides the best out-of-the-box, open-source graphics support for their hardware at launch time... AMD's open-source generally lags behind weeks or in some cases even months and isn't at feature parity while NVIDIA hardware is worst off with being left up to the reverse-engineered, community-driven Nouveau driver that generally lags behind by months and still lacks important functionality (i.e. GPU / memory re-clocking support) going back several generations. Granted, if you don't mind using binary blob drivers for graphics, NVIDIA and AMD usually commit to near same-day Linux GPU support via their proprietary drivers.

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Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com 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 OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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