"Rocket" Accelerator Open-Source Linux Kernel Driver Posted For Rockchip NPU

Written by Michael Larabel in Hardware on 13 June 2024 at 10:35 AM EDT. 3 Comments
The past few months open-source developer Tomeu Vizoso has been developing an open-source accelerator driver for Rockchip's NPU. The experimental driver has shown the open-source code can compete with Rockchip's proprietary driver and Vizoso has been working to develop an upstream-minded driver for a kernel driver living within the "accel" subsystem and then leveraging Mesa's Teflon for the user-space component. Yesterday the "Rocket" accel kernel driver was posted for the Rockchip NPU.

Rocket is the Rockchip NPU kernel driver developed by Tomeu Vizoso that is now under review with the intent on getting it upstreamed into the mainline Linux kernel. The Rocket driver effort is currently focused on the neural processing unit (NPU) found within the Rorkcchip RK3588 SoC but ultimately should also become relevant to other newer Rockchip SoCs too.

This patch series presents the initial 6,200 lines of code making up the Rocket kernel driver that is now out for review and discussion on its way toward the mainline kernel.

Rockchip NPU demo screenshot

There is this Mesa merge request for the user-space driver support for the Rockchip NPU. In current form with MobileNetV1 it delivers similar performance to the proprietary driver. That new Mesa driver is another 7.4k lines of code.

Tomeu posted on his blog that the new kernel driver is "fully working" and has been recently polished up. He concluded the post with:
"This is the first accelerator-only driver for an edge NPU submitted to the mainline kernel, and hopefully it can serve as a template for the next ones to come, as the differences among NPUs of different vendors are relatively superficial."

Here's to hoping Rocket will be rocketing its way to the mainline kernel soon.
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