The 3dfx Linux Driver Has Hope & It's Getting TTM
Written by Michael Larabel in Hardware on 15 July 2010 at 04:38 PM EDT. Add A Comment
Yesterday we reported on the emergence of the 3Dfx Linux DRM/KMS driver that introduces Linux kernel mode-setting support for the decade-old Banshee and Voodoo graphics cards. This work was done by a lone developer, but at this time it doesn't play well with the 3dfx X.Org DDX driver, which diminished hopes of it entering the mainline kernel. However, it appears there is interest in this driver and that the developer is now working on adding TTM memory management support for these 3dfx PCI/AGP graphics cards.

Following yesterday's news posting there was certainly some users excited about this new driver for the vintage hardware and it even ended up being pulled into the kernel tree of Corbin Simpson (message), the Linux graphics developer largely known for his work on the ATI Gallium3D "R300g" driver.

"I've already pulled this patch into my kernel tree, and I'll be making it available for Dave to test and pull once I can get it working on my Banshee. It's very cool to see this kind of code coming from the community and helping to remove old code that we no longer want in favor of stronger, more maintainable code," said Corbin.

If David Airlie pulls this driver, as the maintainer of the mainline Linux DRM code it could then be pulled into a later release cycle of the mainline Linux kernel. First though it will likely need an updated 3dfx X.Org driver that is compatible with this kernel driver before it's pulled upstream. Though it could also be decided at this year's X Developers' Summit during the "Kill It With Fire" session to not worry about supporting this old hardware any longer that's only used by a limited number of Linux users.

At the same time, James Simmons who authored this 3dfx DRM driver is working to add TTM (Translation Table Maps) support to the driver for in-kernel memory management. Right now this driver "cheats" with its memory using drm_addmap and some TTM hooks. There is an active TTM discussion taking place right now to work out the memory management problems.

Let's just hope it doesn't take a decade before we see a fully open-source DRM/KMS stack for Intel's outsourced graphics processors (as found with the Poulsbo, etc) that are currently causing a big mess.

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Michael Larabel is the principal author of 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 automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via

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