Near the beginning of this month I talked about an important Sandy Bridge performance fix landing in Mesa that with 13 lines of changed code resulted in a huge performance improvement for those using the new integrated graphics found on the Sandy Bridge CPUs. This performance boost was quite dramatic and made the open-source Intel Linux driver comparable to Intel's closed-source Windows driver, but the performance tuning is not done yet. There's DRM patches arriving this morning that squeeze more performance out of Intel Sandy Bridge graphics under Linux.
With it nearing the end of the quarter, Intel's OSTC team working on their Linux graphics driver stack is readying their quarterly driver update. Along with the Linux 2.6.38 kernel and Mesa 7.11 as some of the key components to make up this quarter's Linux package, the xf86-video-intel 2.15.0 X.Org driver will also be released. In preparing for this milestone, Chris Wilson has released the first development snapshot of this DDX driver.
While there is Intel VA-API video acceleration support under Linux for Clarkdale/Arrandale hardware and the newest Sandy Bridge CPUs (assuming you are running the very latest code), there is no video playback acceleration support for the Intel G45 / GMA 4500M HD hardware. It was previously promised by Intel engineers with a target delivery date of Q2'2010, but that has long since passed without any further information from Intel.
The Mesa code-base now has patches for supporting the new MESA_multithread_makecurrent GLX extension. This extension was originally proposed in 2009 at the Cairo and GStreamer Hackfest but more than a year later it's now only materializing within Mesa and first within Intel's driver.
Following last week's announcement of Microsoft and Nokia hooking up over Windows Phone 7 for Nokia's future products, left MeeGo in a bad position (along with Qt), but Intel has now commented today that MeeGo is still going strong. Miguel de Icaza has also provided his commentary praising this move by Nokia, yes, really.
Not only was Mesa 7.9.1 / Mesa 7.10 released last night while I was on my way back from the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas with a shiny new Sandy Bridge, but Intel came forward to release their xf86-video-intel 2.14.0 DDX drver and then their 2010Q4 package.
Following a challenging week for Intel's Sandy Bridge Linux support in other publications getting the open-source graphics drivers working, Intel came forward to supply us with a Sandy Bridge processor so we can carry out the tests using the needed Linux Kernel / Mesa / DDX / libva Git code. We don't even need to wait for Intel to send out any hardware, as it was hand-delivered today during a meeting with them.
Intel has now bumped the libva (VA-API) library to version 1.0.7. Why this is worth mentioning is that this now makes it possible to utilize GPU-driven VA-API video decoding on Intel's new Sandy Bridge processors.
It was just midnight yesterday when the press embargo covering Intel's Sandy Bridge micro-architecture with their new Core i3/i5/i7 and H67/P67 chipsets expired. While at Phoronix we have known how Sandy Bridge would work with Linux, the lack of "out of the box" support for the next-generation Intel graphics under Linux or an easy-to-use way to deploy the open-source drivers on existing distributions caused a bit of an uproar by other journalists. Well, more like a big uproar by others.
Intel's Carl Worth has just announced the xf86-video-intel 2.13.903 driver release. He hopes this DDX release candidate will be the last before the xf86-video-intel 2.14.0 driver is officially released carrying the proper X.Org driver support for their new Sandy Bridge CPUs.
As illustrated today by the release of Intel's "Sandy Bridge" CPUs there is a new desire by Linux users: open-source drivers "out of the box" at launch. Over the years the expectations of Linux users have gone from simply wanting Linux drivers for their hardware to wanting open-source Linux drivers (read: no binary blobs) to now wanting open-source drivers in the distribution of their choice at the time the hardware first ships. This is a great problem to now be experiencing, as since starting Phoronix seven years ago, the Linux hardware experience has improved a great deal where it's no longer a question if there will be Linux support but when. Some hardware vendors, such as Intel, are now working towards this goal of same-day open-source Linux support -- and in some cases achieving it -- but for open-source Linux drivers for graphics it's a particularly tall hurdle to jump.
This week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas (I'll be there again looking out for Linux), Intel will officially launch their next-generation Sandy Bridge micro-architecture and CPUs. The NDA though expired at midnight on these first CPUs so there is now a stream of reviews coming out. Is there any Linux graphics test results for the Core i3 2100, Core i5 2400, Core i5 2500K, and Core i7 2600K? Unfortunately, there is not.
Intel began working towards Sandy Bridge support (the Intel HD graphics found on their next-generation CPUs to be launched next month) since this past February and in the months since and it's now their open-source Linux drivers are nearly ready for the first early-adopters of these soon-to-be-released Intel Core i5/i7 processors.
Intel's next-generation MID (Mobile Internet Device) platform to succeed Moorestown is codenamed Medfield and is slated to be released next year. However, in usual Intel fashion, open-source patches for supporting this next-generation platform under Linux are beginning to make their way out there months in advance of the hardware's public availability.
Intel is gearing up to release their xf86-video-intel 2.14 DDX driver in the coming weeks, which will be their quarterly open-source X.Org driver update for their Intel IGPs. In preparations for this release and the forthcoming release candidates, Intel's Carl Worth has tagged the xf86-video-intel 2.13.901 driver in Git, which is an intermediate development snapshot.
The developers behind the MeeGo operating system, the Linux-based distribution that married Moblin and Maemo, have just released version 1.1. MeeGo 1.1 is available for Intel Atom and ARMv7 architectures and comes in the netbook, IVI (in-vehicle information/entertainment systems), and handset editions. Besides the core MeeGo OS hitting 1.1, the MeeGo SDK 1.1 has reached beta and will be released before the MeeGo Summit next month in Dublin.
While Intel has not even rolled out their Sandy Bridge processors yet, their OSTC developers have been working on support for this next-generation micro-architecture with integrated graphics core under Linux for many months. It was back in February when we originally reported on Sandy Bridge GPU support coming to Linux.
Intel's Poulsbo Linux support is a bloody mess. It has been for nearly two years now and the situation has really not improved at all. While Intel IGPs are generally well supported under Linux with an open-source driver stack (besides being very slow), the Poulsbo hardware on Linux is notorious and does not have a fully open-source driver because the GMA 500 chipset is designed around the PowerVR SGX 535 graphics core from Imagination Technologies rather than being brewed in-house. The situation is really bad.
Intel's Ian Romanick has just written an e-mail message entitled What I'm working on to the Mesa development list. With Intel's new GLSL compiler being used by Mesa and can be found within the Mesa 7.9 release, Intel's open-source graphics developers have worked onto working on some other areas of their 3D driver stack.
With Mesa 7.9 on the way, Intel has just released the xf86-video-intel 2.13 release candidate as part of their quarterly updates to their open-source Linux driver stack. There aren't any major features as part of the Intel 2.13 DDX driver update, but there are a good number of bug-fixes.
While the open-source Radeon DRM/KMS (along with the closed-source Catalyst) drivers have had support for audio over HDMI / DisplayPort, patches are finally moving along by Intel's Zhenyu Wang for bringing up audio on Intel chipsets over these newest display interfaces.
While Ubuntu 10.10 will have no i8xx driver fix for those with this vintage Intel hardware that's been plagued with stability problems and other issues since Intel introduced their Linux kernel mode-setting and GEM driver, there is now a workaround upstream for this issue. Originally the plan was to add back user-space mode-setting support to the Intel X.Org driver that would not use the Graphics Execution Manager (GEM) and this code-path could be enabled by i8xx customers to workaround the cache coherency issues while losing KMS support, but a new workaround was devised.
Back in February we reported on the first signs of open-source support for Intel's Sandybridge, a.k.a. their sixth-generation Intel graphics processor integrated on their upcoming CPUs that succeed the Clarkdale/Arrandale CPUs. The Sandybridge hardware still has not launched nor will it until late this year or early next year, but the open-source support has been underway for months and from time to time we see new Linux code patches related to Sandybridge.
The Intel Linux driver has been challenged by stability problems and other issues for owners of i8xx hardware since they rolled out kernel mode-setting and Graphics Execution Manager (GEM) support with UXA 2D acceleration more than a year ago. There were initial problems for other Intel users as well when switching to this overhauled driver stack -- to the point that it killed the netbook experience -- but those problems were quickly worked away. But for those using Intel's oldest supported hardware under Linux, the problems to this day remain. To circumvent this issue there's been the approach to add back user-space mode-setting to the Intel driver with EXA 2D acceleration to simply avoid these problems rather than correct the actual issues with KMS/GEM/UXA, but now another alternative has emerged.
Back in July we reported on driver work done by Intel's Chris Wilson to add back user-space mode-setting support to the Intel X.Org DDX driver (xf86-video-intel) to allow those with older Intel (i8xx) chipsets where kernel mode-setting can be buggy to at least have a decent experience with UMS. Intel was quick to strip out user mode-setting support from their X.Org driver once their KMS support was stabilized, but it turns out that old Intel hardware with UXA (the GEM-ified EXA) and kernel mode-setting was buggy and could lead to artifacts and stability issues. These problems had led Ubuntu and other distribution vendors to use old Intel drivers so that they wouldn't be shafting a small percent of their users with vintage Intel hardware.
Towards the end of last month we reported on GEM-free UMS support for the Intel driver that was worked on by Intel's Chris Wilson to hopefully address the stability issues and other problems that have challenged owners of old Intel i8xx hardware running the newer Intel driver stack, which is presently limited to kernel mode-setting support with GEM (the Graphics Execution Manager) memory management. However, it seems the work invested into adding back user-space mode-setting support to the Intel driver without the kernel memory management still doesn't resolve the i8xx issues at hand.
MeeGo 1.0 for netbooks was released back in May (and an update already released to that) while a month ago there was an early release of MeeGo 1.1 For Handsets released with the official release coming later in the year with MeeGo 1.1 for netbooks. Today "MeeGo 1.0 IVI" has been released and this is designed for in-vehicle infotainment systems.
While it may have seemed like PowerTop was idling by for a while without a new release or any major advancements to this open-source utility for analyzing power consumption to find programs causing more wake-ups than necessary and to provide other power savings tips on Intel-based Linux systems, a new release has emerged. Intel released PowerTop v1.13 recently and it adds a few new features to the power table along with a number of bug-fixes.
It seems like it was just yesterday, but Intel introduced the Graphics Execution Manager more than two years after they had a falling out with TTM. In switching over to using GEM for their in-kernel video memory management, and subsequently supporting kernel mode-setting and then introducing UXA to GEM-ify the EXA 2D acceleration architecture, there was a lot of problems. Fortunately, most of these problems were worked out as this more advanced Intel Linux driver stack matured and for the better part of a year now the experience has been pleasant for users of most Intel GMA chipsets.
Earlier this month an Intel employee began asking about making optimizations to Mesa's shader compiler (on the Mesa-dev list). This Intel employee was not one of their usual Open-Source Technology Center developers commonly working on their Linux graphics stack as part of Keith Packard's team, but instead it was an uncommon name: Benjamin Segovia. Ben is from Intel's Advanced Graphics Lab team where previously he worked on ray-tracing techniques, but as of late seems to be at least dedicating some of his Intel effort towards optimizing Mesa.
822 Intel news articles published on Phoronix.