This weekend the xf86-video-intel 2.4.98 driver
was released with hopes of releasing the Intel 2.5.0 driver
on Monday. This driver is arriving a bit late compared to its original target of last month, but it's now available. This open-source Intel X.Org driver update features GEM integration
(on supported systems), kernel mode-setting
(on supported systems), improved EXA
2D performance, and quite a number of bug-fixes.
The Intel driver integrating their Graphics Execution Manager
as a kernel-driven memory manager and replacement for TTM
is a major milestone. GEM was introduced in May
after open-source developers became concerned with TTM
, the memory manager developed by Tungsten Graphics
that was set to become the de facto standard for graphics memory management. A key advantage that GEM has over TTM is that it's simpler to develop for, but developers working on non-Intel drivers have had to use a mix of TTM and GEM
to accomplish their graphics memory management needs. The kernel bits to GEM had entered the Linux 2.6.28 kernel
just last week. Those building the xf86-video-intel
driver on a Linux 2.6.28 development kernel or newer will be able to use GEM while older kernels will be without this support.
As a result of GEM, the Intel driver has a new 2D acceleration architecture. The UXA Acceleration Architecture
was introduced in August
after Keith Packard
took EXA and began replacing it with pieces of GEM code. Keith hopes to merge his UXA work
back into EXA for the X Server 1.6
release later this year, but for now it's living independently as UXA. UXA is only designed around Intel UMA hardware and is present in this 2.5 release when GEM support is available. Proposed this summer was dropping XAA
acceleration support from the Intel driver, but that was postponed from this release.
Unlike GEM, kernel-based mode-setting
support has yet to enter the mainline Linux kernel (it will likely be merged in Linux 2.6.29). The Intel 2.5 driver though is compatible with building against a KMS-supported kernel. One requirement of this new Intel driver though is libdrm 2.4.0 or later.
Intel had hoped to fix the video tearing issues with Textured Video
by version 2.5.0 of this driver, but that goal wasn't met. As DRI2
though has been fixed with GEM support
after this memory manager caused its delay
from X.Org 7.4
, expect improved video playback in the near future.
Intel's xf86-video-intel 2.5.0 release announcement can be read on the X.Org mailing list
along with the source driver package.