While we are not sure yet what Intel's special Poulsbo driver means yet, we do have some firm information to report this weekend on another new Intel driver: a new Intel i965 driver for Gallium3D is coming.
Intel's Poulsbo Linux driver is a bloody mess. The Poulsbo chipset is known commercially as the GMA 500 that's found in many netbooks as of late, but it isn't actually an Intel design but the graphics processor design was licensed from PowerVR. With that, there is no open-source driver but just an ill-maintained binary blob that is notorious among Poulsbo customers. The Poulsbo DRM, which is open-source but without any open-source client (driver), was previously rejected from entering the mainline kernel as well. The situation for Intel's GMA 500 on Linux is not good, but could this soon be changing?
Back in September the Intel Open-Source Technology Center developers had released the xf86-video-intel 2.9.0 driver as their quarterly update, but unlike previous updates that brought KMS, GEM, UXA, and other new features, the 2.9 release wound up just being a major bug-fix release. Providing further fixes, the xf86-video-intel 2.9.1 driver was released over the night.
Intel has released their quarterly DDX Linux driver update, which is now at version 2.9.0. However, this update isn't exactly interesting. It contains fixes and support for their B43 Chipset, but that's about it, which isn't nearly as exciting as some of their past releases. There is though support for the backlight property now with notebooks when using kernel mode-setting. The xf86-video-intel 2.9.0 release announcement can be read on the X.Org mailing list.
There's three important announcements coming out of Intel's Developer Forum today as it relates to their Moblin Linux distribution that launched two years ago: Moblin 2.0 final has been released, Moblin 2.1 is under development, and Moblin Garage and the Moblin Application Installer have been introduced.
Dell and Canonical have been collaborating on Ubuntu Moblin Remix, which is a mix of Ubuntu, Ubuntu Netbook Remix, and Intel's Moblin 2.0 platform. Moblin 2.0 offers a very impressive user-interface and great boot times for use on Intel Atom-powered netbooks. Announced today at the Intel Developer Forum is that Dell will begin offering Ubuntu Moblin Remix on their Dell Mini 10v netbook.
The Intel X.Org 2.8 driver was released last month, but now those developers working on this DDX driver have issued their first point release for this quarterly driver update. The xf86-video-intel 2.8.1 driver brings seven fixes to this Intel graphics processor driver, while all new features and other work are going into what will eventually become xf86-video-intel 2.9 later this year.
For about two months we have been talking about work that Intel has been committing to its open-source drivers for a new, unreleased graphics processor. Within the code this new graphics chipset is simply referred to as IGDNG (which we take to mean "Intel Graphics Device Next Generation"). The IGDNG has received a new shader compiler, DisplayPort, and other features. Though we now have confirmation on what the IGDNG chipset actually is referencing. IGDNG supports the Clarkdale and Arrandale chipsets.
Last month we shared that Intel was already working on LM_Sensors support for Moorestown, their next-generation mobile platform to launch later this year, and that Linux support has not yet let up. Intel's Ramesh Agarwal this morning pushed out a Linux driver for the Moorestown Analog Accelerometer. This driver in-turn depends upon the driver that surfaced on the kernel mailing list last month to support Langwell ICH blocks. The actual accelerometer used by this Intel mobile platform is the Freescale MMA7341L. This Moorestown Accelerometer driver can be found on the LM_Sensors mailing list.
While the Intel kernel mode-setting graphics driver entered the mainline Linux 2.6.29 kernel, and is beginning to become the default driver in various desktop Linux distributions, the KMS driver does not yet have a feature parity with the traditional DDX xf86-video-intel driver. However, announced on the DRI development list today is one more feature that has now been introduced into the kernel mode-setting driver and generic DRM mode-setting code. This is video overlay support for Intel hardware.
Almost two months ago we talked about Intel adding support for an unreleased, next-generation IGP to their X.Org driver. This new part still has yet to be released and within the code-base is simply referred to as IGDNG (Intel Graphics Device Next-Generation). A few weeks after that initial code commit, a new shader compiler was added along with some other changes to this IGDNG IGP. This morning there were a few more code commits to the xf86-video-intel driver that impact this IGP we imagine will be released in the near future.
It's been an interesting past few months in the Linux graphics world, but to mark the end of four months of development, Carl Worth on the behalf of the Intel Open-Source Technology Center has announced the release of an updated DDX driver. This new Intel driver is, of course, xf86-video-intel 2.8.0.
In preparation for Intel's quarterly DDX driver update, Carl Worth has announced the first release candidate of the xf86-video-intel 2.8 driver. This driver is significant in that it completely abolishes DRI1 and EXA support in favor of only supporting DRI2 and UXA, respectively.
Intel's Arjan van de Ven has fired off an email letting us know that Moblin 2.0 will have its X Server running without root privileges. The first feature of their new "Moblin Secure X project" is to integrate NRX technology, which we take to mean "No-Root X" and is described as "NRX is a set of OS changes and patches that makes it possible to no longer run the X server as the privileged 'root' user." Just last week we reported on a root-less X Server nearing reality.
Later this year or early next year Intel will be introducing Moorestown, which is a code-name we have known going back to 2007 and is their next-generation CPU platform for Mobile Internet Devices. Intel's Moorestown is an SoC design and is expected to be used within smart-phones, in addition to MIDs. Moorestown should be very exciting for its reduced power consumption, better graphics, and higher processing performance, but rather than waiting for this next-generation mobile platform to actually arrive, work on the Linux support has already begun. One of the signs of that is a patch that was just submitted to the LM_Sensors development list, which adds thermal monitoring supporting to Linux.
Earlier this month we reported on Linux support for a new, unreleased Intel IGP after several commits hit the Intel driver's X.Org DDX driver (xf86-video-intel).
Last year Intel had launched the GMA X4500HD integrated graphics processor as a nice upgrade to their G3x series. Our Linux results found these chipsets with Intel integrated graphics to perform better than past Intel IGPs, but still was limited in what games and tests could run on the G43/45 hardware with the open-source Intel Linux driver stack. Now, however, Intel is preparing to refresh their IGP line-up.
Keith Packard of Intel has mailed out seventeen new patches to those on the dri-devel mailing list. In this latest round of work, Keith brings support for DisplayPort connections to the Intel DRM i915 driver. Though before tacking the DisplayPort work in the DRM driver that will allow these newer digital connectors to work with kernel mode-setting, Keith first fixed a few other general problems (and prerequisites) pertaining to sysfs, i2c frobbing, hot-plugging, and DPMS.
While Intel can be applauded for their open-source work on the xf86-video-intel driver and related components of their Linux driver stack that supports their mainline GMA integrated graphics processors, the driver for their GMA 500 found in select netbooks is a bloody mess. There are binary-only bits within the Poulsbo driver stack, their DDX module is developed outside of the X.Org community and can be hard to even find the driver's package, and it just does not work well.
The focus of Intel's X.Org driver developers is on getting ready the xf86-video-intel 2.8 driver for this quarter's update that will remove the EXA acceleration architecture in favor of UXA acceleration and it completely strips away the DRI1 support. The Intel X.Org team released the xf86-video-intel 2.7.0 driver nearly a month ago, but they have cherry-picked a few fixes from their current development efforts to provide a 2.7.1 release.
Intel and Nokia have announced a joint partnership today to develop oFono, an open-source telephony solution. The oFono software stack is GPLv2 licensed and includes a high-level D-Bus API for use by other telephony applications and a low-level API for communicating with cellular modems and other devices.
It was just two weeks ago that Intel released its xf86-video-intel 2.7 driver, but there is already a new test release that will lead up to the release of the xf86-video-intel 2.8 series. Normally it is two or three months before a new test release is available for Intel's quarterly Linux graphics driver update, but that is not the case with their Q3'09 stack.
Intel's Eric Anholt has announced the release of version 1.0.0 for the intel-gpu-tools package. The intel-gpu-tools package consist of various tools for debugging and testing out the Intel graphics hardware and drivers on Linux. Eric describes this open-source package as various user-land tools that do not belong within the X.Org driver tree, regression tests for the DRM, and DRM micro-benchmarks for kernel performance regression testing.
Lately we have talked a lot about the Intel Linux driver stack with their ongoing work of switching over to the Graphics Execution Manager for memory management, moving to kernel-based mode-setting, and migrating to the Direct Rendering Infrastructure 2. In the short term, this work has caused some nasty problems, but once the fallout has been addressed, the open-source Intel driver should be in a prime position to perform on all fronts.
Earlier this month Intel had pushed out the xf86-video-intel 2.7 graphics driver that brought a variety of new features and fixes. This 2.7 X.Org driver has been rolled into Intel's "2009Q1 Package" along with Mesa 7.4 plus a few more patches, the Linux 188.8.131.52 kernel plus a few more patches, and libdrm 2.4.9. It is also suggested that X Server 1.6.1 be used with this recommended Intel software configuration. The details regarding the 2009Q1 package can be found here.
As I alluded to earlier, I am out of the office this week. With me to Italy I took a Samsung NC10 that is loaded with an Intel Atom processor, Intel integrated graphics, an OCZ solid-state drive, and 2GB of DDR2 RAM. Prior to leaving I loaded it up with a clean install of the Ubuntu 9.04 release candidate, but what a mistake that was. As was pointed out in the days prior to that, there are a number of regressions present within the Intel Linux graphics stack due to the switch to the Graphics Execution Manager, DRI2, and other work. While the benchmarks showed there is indeed a drop (a large drop in some), this performance drop nearly renders the system useless.
Last night Intel pushed out the xf86-video-intel 2.7.0 driver, but still it does not correct some of the performance regressions that have been occurring within the Intel Linux graphics stack for the past few months. While there are UXA improvements in the 2.7 driver, the performance is still bad.
The day started out for us by looking at the performance impact of using greedy migration heuristics with Intel graphics as well as taking another look at their driver's UXA performance. After that article was published, we had benchmarks from the Linux 2.6.30-rc2 kernel that showed 2D/3D Intel performance improvements. The third Intel item today was then Intel announcing the release of the G45 hardware documentation that was four volumes and more than 1,000 pages of technical documentations. Well, the fourth and final item tonight is the release of the xf86-video-intel 2.7.0 driver.
Since earlier today when looking at whether greedy migration heuristics help in improving Intel's 2D driver performance and how it compares to using UXA acceleration, we have run a couple more benchmarks. This time Canonical's Bryce Harrington was interested whether a new kernel improves Intel's performance.
We are now into the second quarter of 2009, but Intel will soon release its X.Org driver for Q1'09. While late, the xf86-video-intel 2.7.0 driver update SDVO-TV support, basic SDVO-LVDS support, tear-free X-Video support, and many bugs have been fixed.
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