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Intel Poulsbo DRM Proposed, But Rejected

Intel

Published on 19 March 2009 08:19 AM EDT
Written by Michael Larabel in Intel
30 Comments

Back in January we shared that Intel's Poulsbo driver was a bloody mess. This Intel GMA 500 Chipset is used by a few select devices at the moment and its core is originally based upon a PowerVR ASIC. When it comes to the Linux support, the xf86-video-psb driver is ill maintained (it hasn't been updated in over a year), the 3D driver is binary-only, and the driver is in a badly broken state. The Intel Poulsbo driver and its Linux support is in a completely opposite state of where the xf86-video-intel driver is at and the Linux support for standard Intel IGPs. Today though there's a new part to the Poulsbo Linux story.

In the wee hours of the morning, Greg Kroah-Hartman submitted a set of five patches to the DRI development mailing list. One patch added in an Intel Poulsbo DRM driver while the other four made changes to the DRM core itself in order to accommodate this driver and its needs. Greg and Intel hoped to push this driver into the kernel staging area since they concede that the user-space API isn't yet stable as they continue work on a proper memory management system. Long story short, these patches were immediately declined by David Airlie, the Linux kernel DRM maintainer.

David rejected this code on the basis that it's mostly undocumented, the fact that Intel's 3D driver is closed-source, and the X.Org driver isn't part of X.Org. David added, "we should be at least seeing X.org and Mesa commitments from Intel to supporting this code in the future before we go shipping it all in the kernel." David concluded his message by saying, "so really I'm NAKing this from ever entering the mainline in its current form, without a supporting roadmap and plans for the userspace bits."

Alan Cox also chimed in and said it's actually a legal question whether the DRM can enter the mainline kernel. With the open-source DRM being closely tied to the closed-source 3D driver, where one can't function without the other, both portions should be licensed the same.

Richard Purdie, a Linux developer for Intel, had then supplied a response. Richard cites that there is a xf86-video-psb Git repository (hosted by the Moblin Project) and that he does intend to update it soon. At the time of publishing, the last time any work was done within this xf86-video-psb driver tree was the 11th of March in 2008. Richard shared, "I'm working on getting this updated and that should happen soon."

In regards to open-source 3D support for the Poulsbo hardware, "I'm also working on getting the binary bits for 3D support publicly available somewhere but these are not open source and unlikely to be any time soon. We know this sucks, we're working on it but thats all I can really say."

As it stands now, the Poulsbo DRM hasn't entered the mainline tree -- whether it be in the staging area or not -- and Intel has no intentions of providing an open-source 3D driver at this time.

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 .
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