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

Intel's Poulsbo Driver A Bloody Mess?

Intel

Published on 31 January 2009 08:16 AM EST
Written by Michael Larabel in Intel
34 Comments

Most of the Intel Atom netbooks currently on the market (like the Lenovo IdeaPad S10, Samsung NC10, and ASUS Eee PC) use the GMA 950 Chipset for their integrated graphics, but some of the newer models are using the Intel GMA 500. The GMA 500 doesn't share many traits with other mobile Intel IGPs since much of the technology was licensed from PowerVR, which means a different X.Org display driver is required.

Rather than using the xf86-video-intel driver that receives active development from Intel and is often leading the other open-source X.Org drivers when it comes to features like the Graphics Execution Manager, kernel mode-setting, and DRI2, a new driver had to be created for the GMA 500. The driver for the Intel GMA 500 "Poulsbo" Chipset was created by Intel and Tungsten Graphics. Unfortunately, this driver is very ill maintained.

The xf86-video-psb driver was the one written for the Poulsbo chipset and it hasn't seen any new development activity since last March. This driver isn't even hosted at FreeDesktop.org with the rest of the X.Org packages but instead is over at Moblin.org. The kernel module for this driver also hasn't been worked on since last March (Git viewer) and isn't upstream.

With the X.Org Poulsbo driver not being actively maintained, it doesn't even build with the latest Linux packages. If things couldn't get worse, the Intel Poulsbo driver depends upon a binary blob. The blob found in this file is called msvdx_fw.bin and if not installed will prevent you from utilizing 3D or video acceleration. Not only is there that headache, but there is also another dependent blob called Xpsb that is required.

The X.Org driver situation for the Intel Poulsbo (GMA 500) certainly seems like a bloody mess. Adam Williamson of Red Hat (previously known for his Mandriva work) has shared some of his Poulsbo experiences. We will only be seeing more Intel Poulsbo devices enter the marketplace, so hopefully Tungsten or Intel will be able to correct this situation. Right now, one of the only good things about this driver is that it supports VA-API for video acceleration.

Share your thoughts on this situation in the Phoronix Forums.

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. NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970 Offers Great Linux Performance
  2. CompuLab Intense-PC2: An Excellent, Fanless, Mini PC Powered By Intel's i7 Haswell
  3. From The Atom 330 To Haswell ULT: Intel Linux Performance Benchmarks
  4. AMD Radeon R9 285 Tonga Performance On Linux
Latest Linux Articles
  1. 6-Way Ubuntu 14.10 Linux Desktop Benchmarks
  2. Ubuntu 14.10 XMir System Compositor Benchmarks
  3. Btrfs RAID HDD Testing On Ubuntu Linux 14.10
  4. Ubuntu 14.10 Linux 32-bit vs. 64-bit Performance
Latest Linux News
  1. Mono Brings C# To The Unreal Engine 4
  2. Coreboot Now Has Support For Intel Broadwell Hardware
  3. Enlightenment's EFL 1.12 Alpha Has Evas GL-DRM Engine, OpenGL ES 1.1 Support
  4. GTK+ Lands Experimental Backend For Mir Display Server
  5. Ubuntu 14.10 Officially Released
  6. Mesa 10.4 Might Re-Enable HyperZ For R600g/RadeonSI
  7. Intel GVT-g GPU Virtualization Moves Closer
  8. GTK+ 3.16 To Bring Several New Features
  9. Debian 8.0 Jessie Has Many Multimedia Improvements
  10. What Linux Benchmarks Would You Like To See Next?
Latest Forum Discussions
  1. Linux hacker compares Solaris kernel code:
  2. HOPE: The Ease Of Python With The Speed Of C++
  3. Advertisements On Phoronix
  4. Updated and Optimized Ubuntu Free Graphics Drivers
  5. Users/Developers Threatening Fork Of Debian GNU/Linux
  6. Ubuntu 16.04 Might Be The Distribution's Last 32-Bit Release
  7. AMD Releases UVD Video Decode Support For R600 GPUs
  8. Proof that strlcpy is un-needed