VIA Launches A Graphics Card. Will It Work With Linux?
Written by Michael Larabel in VIA on 3 January 2011 at 08:33 AM EST. 36 Comments
Not only has Intel's Sandy Bridge met the world today, but VIA Technologies launched the VIA eH1. The VIA eH1 is a discrete graphics card for PCI Express systems, but will it work with Linux?

From the press release:
The VIA eH1 comes with a three year product longevity guarantee and is the most power-efficient discrete graphics and video solution on the market today. The VIA eH1 AIB features an advanced DirectX 10.1, OpenGL 3.1, OpenGL ES 2.0 compatible 64-bit architecture and offers multi-stream 1080p HD video decoding and Stereoscopic 3D rendering capability. This makes it the ideal solution for a range of embedded applications that require advanced graphics and video on multiple displays.

Linux is not mentioned once in the press release. At least its better than their S3 Graphics side talking about magical Linux drivers in their press releases.

But will it work with Linux? Definitely not at this time. If a driver is released, it will probably be a binary blob. See VIA Fails With KMS/3D, But Has Yet Another X Driver for my latest update on their (failed) open-source initiative as of December. Their kernel DRM with GEM/TTM memory management, kernel mode-setting, Gallium3D, etc are all long overdue and it appears VIA is no longer working on them.

Recently an independent developer is now working on VIA TTM memory management in the Linux kernel, but that's for existing hardware and that won't do any good for this first discrete GPU offering from VIA Technologies without any hardware documentation, source drops from VIA, or clean-room reverse engineering the ASIC. If anything does ultimately come for the VIA eH1 graphics card on Linux, it would be months out.

For those interested though, the eH1 graphics card has 512MB of DDR3 memory, dual-link DVI and HDMI outputs, OpenGL 3.1 + OpenGL ES 2.0 support, Microsoft DirectX 10.1, OpenCL 1.0, and H.264 / VC-1 decoding.

Linux users will be better off with an ATI Radeon graphics card if you care about open-source support (or opt to use the proprietary Catalyst driver) while anyone caring about the best video playback will want a NVIDIA GPU with their proprietary driver to take advantage of the wonderful VDPAU implementation.
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Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com 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 OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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