Intel's X.Org Driver Still Being Developed, No Sign Of 3.0 Released

Written by Michael Larabel in Intel on 2 August 2016 at 01:48 PM EDT. 51 Comments
While it has been three years since the last stable xf86-video-intel DDX driver release, almost two years since the last development release, and distributions/users beginning to get fed up by this DDX driver release management, Intel remains mum on the manner.

The xf86-video-intel DDX driver is still being developed and the code in Git being last updated today. However, the churn in the Intel DDX driver isn't as frequent as it used to be with now just seeing commits every couple of days rather than almost everyday. One of the lone Intel Open-Source Technology Center developers working on this X.Org driver is Chris Wilson.

Recently was news of Debian and Ubuntu abandoning this Intel driver in favor of the xf86-video-modesetting generic DDX driver that relies upon the kernel's generic KMS interfaces and making use of OpenGL for hardware acceleration. That appears to be going well on the Ubuntu/Debian side and I'm now hearing other distributions are weighing their options about switching to this -modesetting driver too instead of the xf86-video-intel Git code.

It's been a messy situation and a pity that the xf86-video-intel 3.0 release isn't happening after all that Intel's invested in it. In particular, the prominent change of the 3.0 code is use of the SNA acceleration architecture, which dates back to the Sandy Bridge days. SNA can offer much faster 2D performance over UXA, but the problem with SandyBridge New Acceleration is that it inflates the code-base massively. SNA also requires extensive tuning and new code for each hardware generation. GLAMOR with the modesetting DDX meanwhile can work universally across capable OpenGL drivers.

It will be interesting to see how the xf86-video-intel situation plays out in the months ahead and if there will ever be the v3.0.0 release. It will also be interesting to see if more distributions do indeed adopt xf86-video-modesetting, especially as the default DDX for other non-Intel hardware too.
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