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ARM Mali 400/450 "Lima" DRM Driver Steps Closer To Mainline

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  • ARM Mali 400/450 "Lima" DRM Driver Steps Closer To Mainline

    Phoronix: ARM Mali 400/450 "Lima" DRM Driver Steps Closer To Mainline

    When it comes to open-source ARM Mali graphics driver efforts there has been the Panfrost driver targeting the Mali T700 series that has occupied much of the limelight recently, but there has been a separate effort still working on open-source driver support for the older 400/450 series...

    http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?pag...C-Mali-400-450

  • #2
    This is something I have been following quite closely as so many inexpensive and widely available SoC's have Mali graphics. It'll amount to just another reason to choose some these boards over certain iterations of the Raspberry Pi. I would eventually like to try to do all of my day to day work on an Orange Pi Lite, and use it in place of my massive power hungry Desktop for a few months and see if its a bearable experience. I have it sitting next to me collecting dust right now with a .98" display connected to it on the GPIO header to display some useful system information. The Kernel is old(3.4.113) because the of the GPU module coming as a blob.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by moonlitfire View Post
      This is something I have been following quite closely as so many inexpensive and widely available SoC's have Mali graphics. It'll amount to just another reason to choose some these boards over certain iterations of the Raspberry Pi. I would eventually like to try to do all of my day to day work on an Orange Pi Lite, and use it in place of my massive power hungry Desktop for a few months and see if its a bearable experience. I have it sitting next to me collecting dust right now with a .98" display connected to it on the GPIO header to display some useful system information. The Kernel is old(3.4.113) because the of the GPU module coming as a blob.
      I agree. A lot of these devices have a lot of potential to be decent thin-clients, but without decent GPU drivers, they're mostly better off being headless.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by moonlitfire View Post
        This is something I have been following quite closely as so many inexpensive and widely available SoC's have Mali graphics. It'll amount to just another reason to choose some these boards over certain iterations of the Raspberry Pi. I would eventually like to try to do all of my day to day work on an Orange Pi Lite, and use it in place of my massive power hungry Desktop for a few months and see if its a bearable experience. I have it sitting next to me collecting dust right now with a .98" display connected to it on the GPIO header to display some useful system information. The Kernel is old(3.4.113) because the of the GPU module coming as a blob.
        These drivers are only for the Mali 3D accelerator, which is somewhat secondary. Mali isn't a "GPU" in the desktop sense, it does not have display controller and 2D acceleration.

        A much more important thing on such devices is the display controller (that actually operates the port), which should be working in 4.17 kernel, (it's using an Allwinner H3 SoC, look at the features for it in the table here https://linux-sunxi.org/Mainlining_Effort#Status_Matrix ).

        As long as you are not using KDE or GNOME 3 it should be possible to run a desktop on them with the fbturbo driver from sunxi https://linux-sunxi.org/Xorg
        Using a board with a Sata port connected to a Sata SSD (or on USB3.0 or any other fast interface) is warmly recommended, while the processor isn't great you can easily bottleneck anything it can do by using crappy storage.

        Even good SDcards suck at running an OS because theitr controller is designed to deal with sequential workloads like writing or reading media from them.

        The bigger issue for these things is media acceleration drivers, not 3D acceleration. As the devices will NOT be able to play videos smoothly with their crappy CPU. There was a kickstarter to raise funds to develop such driver https://www.kickstarter.com/projects...-linux-kernel/ and it is currently being developed and showing some progress. https://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?pa...er-VPU-Open-12

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        • #5
          This Chinese guy is doing the most important job in China's SBC industry* – in his spare time. The world hasn't changed, apparently.

          * Mali 400/450 has been, and still is, the bread and butter of all cheap china-boards since the advent of RPi. The Allwinner H3 in the Orange Pi Lite is no exception.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by andreano View Post
            This Chinese guy is doing the most important job in China's SBC industry* – in his spare time. The world hasn't changed, apparently.
            I would say the opposite, the manufacturers do want their boards to become obsolete sooner rather than (much much much) later.

            I mean, once Sunxi team and this guy have finished "liberating" the hardware, these SBCs are not going to become obsolete (and require a replacement) for decades.

            These things are going to be the most likely target for low-resource distros as crappy ancient low-ram or 32bit PC hardware dies off or is finally put to rest.
            Last edited by starshipeleven; 05-20-2018, 03:27 PM.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by starshipeleven View Post
              These drivers are only for the Mali 3D accelerator, which is somewhat secondary. Mali isn't a "GPU" in the desktop sense, it does not have display controller and 2D acceleration.

              A much more important thing on such devices is the display controller (that actually operates the port), which should be working in 4.17 kernel, (it's using an Allwinner H3 SoC, look at the features for it in the table here https://linux-sunxi.org/Mainlining_Effort#Status_Matrix ).

              As long as you are not using KDE or GNOME 3 it should be possible to run a desktop on them with the fbturbo driver from sunxi https://linux-sunxi.org/Xorg
              Using a board with a Sata port connected to a Sata SSD (or on USB3.0 or any other fast interface) is warmly recommended, while the processor isn't great you can easily bottleneck anything it can do by using crappy storage.

              Even good SDcards suck at running an OS because theitr controller is designed to deal with sequential workloads like writing or reading media from them.

              The bigger issue for these things is media acceleration drivers, not 3D acceleration. As the devices will NOT be able to play videos smoothly with their crappy CPU. There was a kickstarter to raise funds to develop such driver https://www.kickstarter.com/projects...-linux-kernel/ and it is currently being developed and showing some progress. https://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?pa...er-VPU-Open-12
              Thank you for the well thought out reply. I use fbturbo already on there along with icewm, and it gets along fine with something like the midori browser for the most part(using the same kernel without loading the mali module). If i'm going to stick myself on one of these things for months 3d is a thing I want. Being able to play glx quake or doom at bare minimum is kind of a requirement of mine. I really like those old 90's shooters, and play through them every couple of years because I easily forget all the cool maps and what not they had, Should have been specific there. Slow startup times i/o cause of lack of SATA or USB3 isn't going to hurt me, nor is spiking the CPU on a device that cost me a whole $15 USD. Although it would be nice to have faster access to storage to i/o operations its not the end of the world that it doesn't. Not having 3d is less tolerable to me that waiting for an application to get shoved into ram. The video thing is a real killer though, as I enjoy watching youtube.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by andreano View Post
                This Chinese guy is doing the most important job in China's SBC industry* – in his spare time. The world hasn't changed, apparently.

                * Mali 400/450 has been, and still is, the bread and butter of all cheap china-boards since the advent of RPi. The Allwinner H3 in the Orange Pi Lite is no exception.
                Yeah, it's a real shame when important work like this is not rewarded the way it should be. But, I am glad to see that there is some work going towards this!

                I just bought this new "Le Potato" board which has Mali 450 graphics, and it just has so much potential being held back by lack of software. It makes think about trying to learn how to contribute- I mean...how hard could it be? XD

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