Broadcom Bringing Up Linux Support For VK Accelerators

Written by Michael Larabel in Hardware on 21 February 2020 at 12:01 AM EST. 4 Comments
Broadcom developers have been recently volleying open-source Linux driver patches for enabling their "VK Accelerators" on the platform.

Broadcom VK Accelerators are PCI Express offload engines for supporting video transcoding on multiple streams in parallel. These VK Accelerators offer various video offload processing features and are exposed to user-space via specialized /dev/bcm-vk.X devices. We haven't yet seen user-space patches to see if Broadcom intends to support any of the common APIs or will be developing their own customized solution.

This Broadcom VK offload engine relies upon seemingly closed-source firmware files to be loaded for running the logic on these accelerators.

The kernel patches so far for the Broadcom VK Accelerators can be found here. Broadcom engineers have been working through these VK accelerator patches the past few months while on Thursday the "v2" patches were posted. It's a lengthier patch series as first Broadcom engineers had to add support to the Linux kernel for being able to partially load firmware files rather than complete firmware files at once. This partial/offset reading of firmware files is being done for memory constrained systems.

VK in this context appears to stand for Broadcom's Valkyrie branding. One such Broadcom SoC so far designed for these offload capabilities is the BCM958401M2 but public details remain light overall. This video offload effort by Broadcom does remind us the days of their Crystal HD video decoding core from many years back.
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