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 Benchmarking Platform
Phoromatic Test Orchestration

ARM Mali-T604 Arrives, But With What Kind Of Driver?

Free Software

Published on 11 November 2010 09:31 AM EST
Written by Michael Larabel in Free Software
12 Comments

ARM yesterday introduced the Mali-T604 graphics processor that is a major step-up from their current-generation Mali graphics. The Mali-T604 is not only compatible with OpenGL ES 1.1/2.0 and OpenVG 1.1, but it also brings OpenCL 1.1/1.2 support to this embedded graphics processor for GPGPU computing. Additionally, the Mali-T604 is said to deliver up to five times the performance of current Mali graphics processors and is scalable up to four cores, but what kind of Linux driver(s) will it bring?

There's still quite some time before we will see the ARM Mali-T604 graphics processor in any device paired with an ARM Cortex-A15 CPU, but the information we have received indicates that the driver situation won't be radically different from current Mali offerings. Like is the case right now, there should be the open-source X.Org (DDX) driver with EXA/DRI2 support. However, for a working 3D driver stack, you will need the updated Mali DDK that is provided to just the Mali GPU customers along with their closed-source MaliDRM.

It would be nice if the situation would improve where there was an open-source 3D driver (ideally based upon the Gallium3D architecture) with an open-source DRM (Direct Rendering Manager) module with aims towards mainline Linux kernel integration, but it doesn't look like we will see that for the Mali-T604 or at least not immediately. This is pretty much the same situation across the embedded graphics world where the Linux graphics drivers are largely dependent upon binary blobs for all but basic 2D/X.Org support.

In July there was an open-source 2D/3D kernel driver by Qualcomm for their Snapdragon, but that unfortunately didn't move anywhere but it did cause a dirty mess due to the lack of an open-source user-space driver (more details on the situation). Intel also has their GMA 500 Poulsbo / GMA 600 Moorestown graphics IP licensed from Imagination Technology based upon the PowerVR SGX core, and we all know what a mess that is.

The ARM Mali-T604 looks like an especially nice graphics processor for the embedded world, but unless things magically change before the hardware starts shipping, there isn't expected to be a fully open-source Linux driver stack. Those interested in reading more about the technical features of the Mali-T604, hit up the ARM product page.

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 News
  1. Radeon & AMDGPU DRM Fixes Queue Up For Linux 4.2
  2. KDE Applications 15.04.3 Fixes Bugs
  3. Benchmarks Of 54 Different Intel/AMD Linux Systems
  4. Linux 4.2 Bringing Support For ARCv2, HS38 CPU Cores
  5. Libdrm 2.4.62 Is An Important Update For Open-Source GPU Drivers
  6. The State of Unity 3D Game Engine, Editor On Linux
  7. ZFS On Linux 0.6.4.2 Brings Linux 4.1 Support, Fixes
  8. Old Net Burst Tests, Ubuntu Phone & Assembly x86 Were Popular Topics Last Month
  9. Qt 5.5 Officially Released
  10. Global Shortcuts In KDE Plasma Under Wayland
Latest Articles & Reviews
  1. How KDE VDG Is Trying To Make Open-Source Software Beautiful
  2. Attempting To Try Out BCache On The Linux 4.1 Kernel
  3. CompuLab's Fitlet Is A Very Tiny, Fanless, Linux PC With AMD A10 Micro
  4. AMD A10-7870K Godavari: RadeonSI Gallium3D vs. Catalyst Linux Drivers
Most Viewed News This Week
  1. Kubuntu 15.10 Could Be The End Of The Road
  2. KDBUS Won't Be Pushed Until The Linux 4.3 Kernel
  3. The State & Complications Of Porting The Unity Editor To Linux
  4. The Staging Pull For Linux 4.2: "Big, Really Big"
  5. Latest Rumor Pegs Microsoft Wanting To Buy AMD
  6. SteamOS "Brewmaster" Is Valve's New Debian 8.1 Based Version
  7. Jonathan Riddell Steps Down From The Kubuntu Council
  8. ARM Posts Pictures Of AMD's New Development Board