Open-Source AMD Linux Developers Already Thinking About API Improvements

Written by Michael Larabel in AMD on 9 October 2014 at 04:29 AM EDT. 20 Comments
Given yesterday's big update about AMD's unified Linux driver approach and creating a new "AMDGPU" kernel driver, open-source driver developers independent of AMD who have worked on the current Radeon code are already proposing API improvements.

Jerome Glisse, a current Red Hat developer who has long been involved in the open-source AMD/ATI scene going back to the classic xf86-video-avivo days (a driver not many even will know about... it pre-dates RadeonHD), has started proposing some API improvements over what's offered by the current Radeon DRM driver.

Jerome opened, "So if i do not start the discussion now it might be already too late. Given plan to converge open source driver and closed source driver to use a single common kernel driver and that this would be a new kernel driver. This is an opportunity to fix some of the radeon design issues (at least things that i would have done differently if only i could get some gas for my DeLorean)."

For those interested in the technical details, Glisse's message can be found on the dri-devel list. Fortunately, Christian K├Ânig of AMD has already confirmed they are indeed working on design improvements.

While this new "AMDGPU" driver will only benefit the Radeon Rx 300 "Pirate Islands" GPUs (where we're suspecting it to begin) and future GPUs, at least breaking off to create this new kernel driver allows the developers to evaluate and implement the best interface designs for modern GPUs. The developers are free to experiment (as they have been doing with their prototype Sea Islands support in AMDGPU) and figure out the best design prior to landing the driver in mainline where it must provide a stable interface to user-space without breakage. A lot has been learned over the years by the developers in designing the current Radeon DRM code.

On a side note, as mentioned in yesterday's post, AMD says they plan to start rolling out the new kernel code in stages this fall... Based on the timing of things, it's possible we could see some code proposed ahead of the Linux 3.19 merge window but at this point I'd place my bets on seeing things before the Linux 3.20 merge window.
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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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