OpenChrome DRM Driver To Go Through A GEM/TTM Code Rewrite

Written by Michael Larabel in Linux Kernel on 5 August 2018 at 10:16 AM EDT. 7 Comments
With the OpenChrome DRM/KMS driver for vintage VIA x86 graphics likely to be mainlined in its current code state, the sole developer left working on this driver is going to next rewrite the TTM/GEM memory management code that he also hopes will help in his new ATI RAGE 128 driver initiative.

The OpenChrome DRM driver that's been struggling for years doesn't look like it will be mainlined in 2018. While it's been sent off for review a few matters have been blocking it from going mainline: the principal challenges are OpenChrome DRM not supporting the modern atomic mode-setting APIs but rather than legacy KMS interfaces and there being a lot of unfinished code left in the driver. When it comes to the unfinished code, the hardware acceleration isn't complete and the upstream DRM driver developers would want that removed before this driver would be hypothetically mainlined.

Kevin Brace, the last community developer left working on OpenChrome, still hopes to get the driver mainlined without having to migrate over to the atomic mode-setting APIs. But with needing to remove the unfinished acceleration code for OpenChrome that was written by a previous developer (James Simmons), Kevin wants to take that opportunity to remove the "unmaintainable" GEM/TTM code.

He hopes writing a new GEM/TTM implementation for OpenChrome will be more maintainable as well as addressing some open bugs in the process. Additionally, he's hoping this to-be-written GEM/TTM memory management code would be more portable so it could theoretically be used by his renewed interest in the ATI RAGE 128 Linux driver. Right now on the RAGE 128 front he's been working on fixing bugs within the user-space DDX (X.Org) driver but does hope to see a DRM/KMS driver come about for this two decade old graphics hardware.

Those curious about Kevin's open-source driver efforts for the vintage VIA and RAGE graphics processors can see his status update concerning the work over the past two months. Don't expect any immediate improvements though as it will likely be quite some time for the new GEM/TTM code to materialize and on the RAGE front he is still learning/studying the EXA code and thinks it will "it will take several months before I can fix one significant bug of RAGE 128 DDX."
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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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