While Still Waiting For Broadcom VideoCore 5 To Surface, There Appears To Be VC6

Written by Michael Larabel in Hardware on 28 March 2018 at 12:00 AM EDT. 2 Comments
The VC5 open-source Linux graphics driver stack has been under heavy development now the past nearly year while not yet seeing any major ARM SBCs or other products making use of this Broadcom VideoCore V (VC5) 3D hardware, which now supports OpenCL and Vulkan. While many are holding out hopes for eventually seeing a next-gen Raspberry Pi with this beefed up VideoCore, it appears there is already a VC6 in the works too.

We haven't heard anything officially yet on VideoCore VI (VC6) but it does appear to be in the works and is along far enough where there is some driver activity happening.

The lead developer on the open-source VideoCore Linux graphics stack at Broadcom, Eric Anholt, posted his latest driver happenings. In this week's installment he shares that he is back to working on the VC5 driver after having recently been working on more improvements for VC4. Some of his recent VC5 work includes register spilling support and a number of bug fixes for getting more of the OpenGL ES conformance tests passing.

When talking about his recent work, he wrote, "Some of the pieces from this VC5/6 effort included." Notice that 6 in there?

I've spent a fair amount of time searching tonight to locate any other VC6 references, which he hadn't explicitly written about yet on his driver development blog, nothing relevant appearing in Google, etc. Thinking it might have been a typo, but then I did discover from his GitHub that he has a "vc6" Mesa branch being maintained alongside his VC5 branch but with just a few commits since merged to mainline Mesa. That VC6 branch originally happened back in January.

It will be interesting to find out eventually (it could be a while with still having scarce details on VideoCore V) if VC6 ends up being a real generation after VC5 3D engine or some other evolutionary / complementary product for alternative market type positioning... Given the minimal driver difference to date for what's been seen of VC6, it may be a minor revision technically and more of a marketing difference. If you happen to encounter any other VC6 references, feel free to contact us or let us know in the forums.
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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 20,000 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, LinkedIn, or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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