VIA Graphics & Other Vintage GPUs Still Interest At Least One Developer In 2017

Written by Michael Larabel in Hardware on 22 September 2017 at 08:42 AM EDT. 19 Comments
Kevin Brace, the sole active developer left working on the OpenChrome driver stack for VIA x86 graphics, presented yesterday at XDC2017 about his work on this driver and how in the years to come he still hopes to work on other vintage GPU support.

Brace's work mostly covered his personal motivations, a brief history of Via Unichrome and the Linux driver options, and then his recent work on trying to get the OpenChrome DDX and DRM drivers into shape.

He has been working on getting the VIA DRM driver closer to the upstream Linux Git state, but it still appears to be a ways off and even further before it would be accepted upstream. For now it's also still relying upon the "legacy" interfaces and hasn't yet been ported to atomic mode-setting or other modern DRM APIs.

The OpenChrome DDX driver continues maintaining user-space mode-setting support for now and Kevin hopes to get a v0.7 driver release in time for Ubuntu 18.04 LTS. At this point he has no plans of dropping user-space mode-setting due to the still primitive state of the kernel mode-setting for this legacy hardware.

He also hopes to eventually tackle 2D/3D/video acceleration with a focus on Chrome9 support.

From there he also went to talk about his love for old hardware and "Interested in getting mid to late ‘90s to mid 2000s forgotten graphics devices’ DRM to support DRI2 / KMS / TTM." Among the hardware he wants to improve the driver support for are Cirrus Logic, ATI Mach, 3DLabs Glint, Matrox, S3, SiS, Trident, and other older Intel/ATI/3Dfx hardware. He says he would like to provide DRM drivers for all of these GPUs as well as update their DDX/Mesa code.

As he's still new to Mesa/DRM/X.Org development, he's thinking it will take him the next decade to accomplish his personal mission of working on these older drivers. We'll see how all of this goes as currently he is an unemployed, recently-graduated student thus with plenty of time on his hands for the time being.

Those wanting to learn more about his OpenChrome work can see the PDF slide deck or the video presentation that's at the end of the video stream embedded below.

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