The Plans For The New VIA Gallium3D Driver & DRM/KMS Linux Driver

Written by Michael Larabel in Hardware on 13 January 2015 at 06:30 AM EST. 12 Comments
Last week I wrote about a new Gallium3D driver under development for VIA Chrome hardware that was being done under the OpenChrome umbrella along with new work on the VIA DRM/KMS driver. I now have some answers from the developer about his plans for this open-source VIA graphics work under Linux.

While 2014 was very quiet for the open-source VIA driver work via OpenChrome -- and VIA in general with not really focusing anymore on VIA x86 products -- it looks like 2015 will be a much more interesting year for anyone still using these low-power alternatives to AMD and Intel x86 CPUs. In email communication with James Simmons, the lone developer that's been leading the new VIA open-source developments the past few years as a hobby project, he explained some of his intentions.

James explained that he hadn't given up on his hobby hacking of VIA graphics on Linux but that he had personal matters to tend to last year, etc, but that those issues are being overcome so he has the time and energy to devote back to his driver initatives. He's not sponsored by VIA or funded to this open-source driver work but he's doing it to exercise his GPU knowledge. He's learning more about graphics processors and drivers to benefit his day job as he's exploring new ways to use graphics processors for file-systems -- essentially for GPU compute to do file check-summing, data compression, etc.

Simmons shared that his number one goal right now for the OpenChrome work is to get hardware acceleration working for the OpenChrome X.Org driver. Right now the OpenChrome KMS/DRM driver with the user-space X.Org driver doesn't tap any hardware acceleration paths but he says that will change soon. He's working towards getting this new VIA Gallium3D driver into shape so that it can support GLAMOR -- providing 2D acceleration over OpenGL.

He hasn't yet made plans for when he hopes to have the VIA DRM/KMS driver be merged into the mainline Linux kernel. James explained that once he's implemented enough in the KMS driver where people will want to use VIA kernel mode-setting rather than the existing user-space mode-setting via xf86-video-openchrome, he'll feel comfortable looking to get the driver merged.

While VIA x86 hardware is getting harder to come by these days, James sounds committed to this work and so it should be an interesting hobby project to watch in 2015.
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Michael Larabel

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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