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DRM Changes Coming Up For Linux 3.1 Kernel

Linux Kernel

Published on 05 July 2011 09:59 AM EDT
Written by Michael Larabel in Linux Kernel
22 Comments

There's still a few more weeks left until the Linux 3.0 kernel will be officially released, but there are already some changes worth looking forward to with the Linux 3.1 kernel as it pertains to the Direct Rendering Manager drivers.

In going over the drm-next Git tree of David Airlie's, for what will ultimately go in as the pull request when the Linux 3.1 kernel merge window is opened, there's a few items to mention at this time:

- The Nouveau DRM driver in the Linux 3.1 kermnel will be able to generate its own NVIDIA Fermi microcode (a.k.a. FUC). While there's been NVIDIA GeForce 400/500 "Fermi" kernel mode-setting and then EXA/X-Video and Gallium3D acceleration within the tree for a few releases, it's required to manually load the firmware for the graphics processor. This firmware can be obtained by first loading the NVIDIA proprietary driver on the graphics card and using MMIOtrace to create a dump, but it isn't legally re-distributable, so most open-source Fermi users are going without acceleration support right now. With the 3.1 kernel, the Nouveau driver can automatically create its own necessary firmware for initialization / context setup in a manner similar to that of previous generations, for those that recall the ctx_voodoo happenings a few years ago.

This means that if you're using a Linux 3.1+ kernel and Mesa 7.11+, you can be using Gallium3D and other features from the open-source Nouveau driver on the latest generation of NVIDIA graphics hardware. A few months back I ran some Nouveau Fermi benchmarks and for Nouveau on the GeForce GTX 460. When the Linux 3.1 kernel is primed, more Nouveau benchmarks shall come.

- There's various other Nouveau fixes and small changes building up in drm-next. Among the smaller work are some temperature fixes and support for multiple virtual memory address spaces per buffer object.

- In the Radeon DRM world, there isn't anything too exciting at the moment, but there is initial CS (Command Submission) checker support for compute and other work. There also doesn't appear to be any pending fixes yet for some of the Radeon HD 6000 series bugs that others and I have been hitting. Additionally, there isn't any early AMD Radeon HD 7000 series support and don't expect that to arrive for the Linux 3.1 kernel.

- As expected, VIA DRM/KMS support isn't going to make it for the Linux 3.1 kernel.

- Within the Intel DRM world there doesn't appear to be anything particularly exciting that's queued up at the moment, but there are bug-fixes and surely more work towards Intel Ivy Bridge Linux support.

More information to come once the Linux 3.0 kernel has been actually released and the Linux 3.1 DRM pull is ready.

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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