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Clarifications On Poulsbo's Gallium3D Driver

Intel

Published on 02 November 2009 09:25 PM EST
Written by Michael Larabel in Intel
24 Comments

Yesterday we reported on a new Linux driver coming for Intel's Poulsbo chipset that is currently notorious on Linux. This graphics processor is found in many Atom-powered netbooks, but its binary driver is a mess. We found out this morning though many more details on this special driver, which uses the Gallium3D architecture, supports the Moorestown and Sodaville hardware, uses TTM memory management, supports kernel mode-setting, and overall looks like it is much better than the current Poulsbo driver stack. With this new driver stack that's timed to launch with Moorestown, the Gallium3D component is remaining closed-source while the DRM and DDX remain open -- with the DRM code supposedly going after mainline inclusion again (the current version was already rejected). However, the details continue to keep streaming in today.

We originally reported that this new Poulsbo driver would be capable of playing Quake III Arena with a modest frame-rate and could also handle HD 1080i video playback. In a continued conversation with Martin Mohring, he has now shared that the performance of this updated driver stack he is running is to the order of two times faster than the Poulsbo stack found in Ubuntu 8.04 where the support originally appeared -- at least from his testing. The full graphics stack he is running consists of the Poulsbo/Moorestown kernel DRM (not in the mainline kernel), an Xpsb plug-in for X Server 1.6, the updated xf86-video-psb DDX driver, the Gallium3D driver, Mesa 7.6, the PowerVR VA-API plug-in, and VA-API 0.30. However, this shows that the Gallium3D driver will not be the only closed-source component for Poulsbo's driver stack but for the video encoding/decoding there is still the closed-source VA-API plug-in along with a Xorg plug-in from PowerVR.

Also to clarify from our original article, at the Mobile Dev Camp and in his communications with us, he is not representing the Linux Foundation with this Poulsbo work, but rather his own company, the Bavarian-based 5edatasoft. This company is an engineering partner with Intel and was responsible for porting the PowerVR drivers to work with Canmore (a 1080p SoC for TVs) and Sodaville on OpenSuSE and Moblin.

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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