VIA Releases A New 2D Linux Driver
Earlier this month we shared that VIA would be releasing a new 2D graphics driver for Linux and this morning they have done just that. While previously VIA Technologies had thrown their weight behind the OpenChrome driver, and there are other VIA drivers out there like the UniChrome driver, they have been working on their own xf86-video-via driver. Back in August they had released a xf86-video-via driver, but today's release of this open-source driver now uses their new kernel DRM for providing 2D (EXA) acceleration.
This new VIA 2D driver can be downloaded here, but there really is no information about it on their Linux web-site. The release notes in the driver mention support for X.Org 7.4, ACPI suspend-to-ram and suspend-to-disk support, CRT/LCD/DVI support, dual display support, X-Video extension support, EXA 2D acceleration, and RandR 1.2 support.
The VIA chipsets supported by this driver include the Chrome 9 series, but specifically the CX700M, VX700, CN700, CN896, VN896, VX800, and VX855. This support from VIA is limited to 2D/video support and they have publicly said already that they will not release an open-source 3D driver for the Chrome 9 hardware even though they want a Gallium3D driver. VIA wants the open-source community to make a driver for them, but to date they still haven't released quite enough documentation to make that a reality and there would be a lack of development manpower.
The new xf86-video-via driver includes the kernel DRM source-code with the package too. VIA is actually shipping with six separate copies of the DRM source-code. There is separate Direct Rendering Manager code to support the CN700/CX700M/VX700 and CN896/VX800/VX820 ASICs. Additionally, there is separate DRM folders for the Linux 2.6.24, 2.6.27, and 2.6.28 kernels.
VIA will likely push for its Chrome 9 DRM to enter the mainline Linux kernel, but even with this 2D driver being out there, it's uncertain whether it will pass free software developer acceptance. Previously their DRM was rejected on the basis of partial open-source GPU drivers and at the time the only client of their Chrome 9 DRM was VIA's binary-only driver that they will not open-source. Now there is the xf86-video-via driver that uses this DRM, but still with it just using this kernel interface for the 2D acceleration, its only touching a subset of the code. Well, let's see how it goes this time.