Graphics Driver Changes Coming In The Linux 3.18 Kernel

Written by Michael Larabel in Linux Kernel on 17 September 2014 at 11:58 AM EDT. 4 Comments
While the Linux 3.17 kernel isn't being released for a few weeks, we already have a good idea for the DRM graphics driver improvements coming for the Linux 3.18 cycle.

Linux 3.17 has many new features, including many DRM graphics improvements, with Linux 3.18 there's of course more changes to get excited about; it's a never-ending cycle in improving Linux graphics drivers and the kernel stack as a whole. With Linux 3.18 though, it's going to be the first release where the drm-next merge window is closing early. Usually David Airlie, the DRM subsystem maintainer, allows new DRM graphics driver code to be introduced up until the start of the next kernel merge window, with that drm-next code-base then being sent in for mainline inclusion. Beginning with Linux 3.18, Airlie is planning to close the merge window of drm-next around the -rc5 state of the previous release. As a result, this week is likely the last that major new DRM graphics driver code has a chance to land for making the 3.18 window.

David's been landing a bunch of code this week into his drm-next tree for Linux 3.18 and among the highlights are:

- Nouveau driver improvements that include support for DisplayPort audio, re-clocking improvements for select GPUs, and fan control improvements.

- Numerous Intel driver improvements that include many Cherryview improvements for the forthcoming Atom SoC. There's also still Broadwell tuning taking place, some basic prep work for Skylake (though the Intel Skylake Linux enablement doesn't look like it will come until at least Linux 3.19), and other code clean-ups.

- The AMD Radeon DRM driver supports concurrent buffer reads, Userptr support, and RV6xx UVD video decoding support as its major features for Linux 3.18.

There's also been core DRM improvements and other enhancements to the smaller DRM drivers.
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Michael Larabel is the principal author of 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 automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter, LinkedIn, or contacted via

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