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Gallium3D, GEM Ported To Genode OS

Operating Systems

Published on 11 August 2010 10:31 AM EDT
Written by Michael Larabel in Operating Systems
5 Comments

Genode OS, a framework created by German developers for building special-purpose operating systems and provides a choice of six different kernels with targeted uses for high-security computing, dependable computing, automotive applications, and mobile devices, has advanced a great deal with its just-released 10.08 version. Genode OS 10.08 brings support for Qt 4.6, a new ATAPI block driver, IS0 9660 file-system support, MadWiFi wireless networking support, and dynamic linking on ARM EABI platforms, but most interesting in this release are the hardware-accelerated graphics improvements. Genode developers have ported Gallium3D and the Graphics Execution Manager to the Genode OS.

Gallium3D has been ported to Genode OS with its device drivers, state trackers, winsys pieces, and other components. The code pulled into Genode OS 10.08 is based upon Mesa 7.8.1 and is designed to take advantage of Gallium3D rather than any classic Mesa code -- i.e. using the Gallium3D Softpipe driver (though they really should switch to using LLVMpipe) rather than the classic Mesa Software Rasterizer. Genode developers created their own Gallium3D EGL driver during this process and unlike the Mesa EGL drivers this one is designed to take advantage of Genode's Framebuffer_session interface.

Unfortunately, not all Gallium3D hardware drivers have been made compatible with Genode at this time, but only the i915 Gallium3D driver. This is actually unfortunate since the i915 driver isn't even maintained by Intel (it's just a work-in-progress by some of the VMware engineers) and is not nearly as complete as the R300g driver used for the ATI Radeon R300/400/500 ASICs. There is also the newer i965 Gallium3D driver, but that has not yet been ported. The i915 Gallium3D driver is designed to support the i915 G/GM, i945 G/GM/GME, G33G, Q33G, and Q35G GMA IGPs, thereby getting hardware-acceleration on Genode OS.

In order to get the Intel Gallium3D driver running they also had to port the Graphics Execution Manager (GEM) for in-kernel memory management, but with Genode it's not actually within the kernel. In their GEM port, they have made GEM capable of running in user-space. In this porting effort they also had to port the intel-agp subsystem, since it's a prerequisite for Intel's memory manager.

Some of the limitations in this unique port is that only a single application can take advantage of the graphics processor at a time, since the GEM and Gallium3D protocol stack are executed as a single process right now, thereby blocking GEM handling from other Gallium3D instances. Genode's EGL driver also uses CPU-based blitting, interrupt synchronization is not yet hooked up, GEM resource deallocation is currently lacking, and there's a few other items on their TODO list.

More details on the Genode 10.08 release can be found in its release notes.

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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