A New VIA OpenChrome Gallium3D Driver Is Under Development

Written by Michael Larabel in Hardware on 8 January 2015 at 07:05 PM EST. 22 Comments
While OpenChrome and the VIA DRM/KMS driver hasn't seen much public activity in quite some time and appears rather dead, apparently that's not the case. A new VIA OpenChrome Gallium3D driver was published this week in its initial rudimentary form.

James Simmons for years has been near single-handedly writing the VIA DRM/KMS driver for the Linux kernel. The driver has yet to be mainlined and it appeared dormant for a while but a few days ago he picked back up work on the driver with new patches so that this display driver will work with newer kernel revisions.

Beyond restoring work on the DRM/KMS driver, he's been quietly working on a Gallium3D driver for VIA hardware that he's putting out under the OpenChrome branding. In the past there's been talk of doing a Gallium3D driver, VIA having a secret Gallium3D driver, etc, but ultimately nothing ever panned out and came to fruition for mainline Mesa.

On Tuesday he landed within his Git repository the OpenChrome Gallium3D driver with initial VIA hardware support. Simmons' patch message reads, "Start of Gallium driver for VIA hardware. Currently it is a little skeleton driver but the plan it to expand it to suport glamour with our xorg driver. This way we don't need to make a specific libdrm sub library but instead just work on one code base. The plan is make the driver core code be platform independent and winsys contain the libdrm type code." So ultimately he's working toward 3D support with this VIA driver and that the xf86-video-openchrome driver in the future could be accelerated by GLAMOR -- the universal means of doing 2D over 3D/OpenGL.

It's quite interesting and ambitious that James is now tackling a VIA Gallium3D driver by himself given the obstacles imposed over the years by VIA, their rather lack of open-source support, and the dwindling VIA x86 market. The initial skeleton driver information can be found via this mailing list message. I'll certainly continue to keep tabs on James' impressive open-source work and hopefully there will be some more good open-source news to pass along soon and maybe in 2015 we'll see the VIA DRM/KMS driver finally merged within the mainline Linux kernel.
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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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