Yesterday in the ARM world there was not only a major milestone in that of unveiling the ARM Mali T-604 GPU
for embedded devices with much faster graphics and even OpenCL GPGPU capabilities, but it was also marked by the first Linaro release. Linaro was formed less than a year ago
but out now is their first engineering release, a.k.a. Linaro 10.11.
Linaro 10.11 marks the completion of their first engineering cycle and consists of tools and software for the latest ARM Cortex-A9 / Cortex-A8 processors. Celebrating this milestone was a press release
that indicates there are now 70 open-source developers on Linaro's engineering team (a collection of Canonical employees and from other ARM stakeholders), and signals there is momentum gaining for the Linaro 11.05 as their second engineering release.
From the Linaro downloads area
there are the Linaro tools consisting of GCC 4.4 and GCC 4.5, GDB 7.2, the Linaro Linux 2.6.35 kernel and a Linaro linux-next Git tree, and a Linaro U-Boot boot-loader.
Seeing as Canonical has an active stake and interest in Linaro, Mark Shuttleworth also blogged about this milestone
. One of the interesting sentences in Mark's latest blog post is, "Linaro uses the same cadence as Ubuntu and we’re able to collaborate on the selection, integration and debugging of key components like the kernel, toolchain, X.org (still ;-)), and hundreds of small-but-important libraries and tools in between." So far Linaro really hasn't done much when it comes to X.Org on ARM and one of the Linaro pillars is: "All Linaro software - whether development tools or Linux based projects - is open source, on its way upstream and easily available from the website." Based upon Mark's sentence (complete with the "still ;-)" emoticon), is Canonical and Linaro secretly working on something in the X.Org world for ARM? We, as many Linux users would, love to see some open-source ARM graphics drivers for Linux and right now this is a serious issue with ARM tablets, netbooks, and other mobile devices.
Whether it's for the PowerVR SGX core (used on the Intel Poulsbo
among many other devices at this time), Qualcomm Snapdragon
, or forthcoming GPUs like the Mali-T604, any open-source graphics driver for ARM would be exciting. In order for it to be of real benefit to Canonical, such open-source ARM graphics drivers would need to come with kernel mode-setting support, GEM capabilities, and OpenGL ES 1.1/2.0 support (likely via Mesa/Gallium3D) so that it would suit their Wayland deployment plans
. There's also Intel planning to use Wayland on MeeGo Touch
where it's deployed on the same, currently-problematic graphics processors. For being pushed upstream as part of Linaro's mission, such open-source GPU kernel drivers would also need open-source user-space drivers
We'll keep watching to see what happens in this space. We do know that something is going on of sorts, based upon comments heard earlier this year at LinuxTag in Berlin and on other occasions about PowerVR graphics on Linux, and now Mark's comment makes us even more curious and hopeful.