Xilinx Publishes An Open-Source AI Engine Kernel Driver For Linux

Written by Michael Larabel in Hardware on 19 November 2020 at 12:05 AM EST. 4 Comments
In addition to AMD and Xilinx bringing ROCm to FPGAs, another interesting open-source/Linux milestone for the company being acquired by AMD is their publishing of the AI Engine open-source kernel driver with ambitions for upstreaming it.

This is a Linux kernel driver for supporting the Xilinx AI Engine, the acceleration engine providing high compute density for vector-based algorithms. The AI engine allows for custom compute and data movement and can interface with the FPGA fabric.

The proposed xilinx-ai-engine kernel driver is responsible for the device management of the engine array and AI engine partitions, which are groups of AI engine tiles dedicated to an application. The AI Engine architecture is outlined in more detail via this documentation published over the summer.

The patches providing this Xilinx AI Engine driver amount to nearly five thousand lines of code.

In order to get this driver upstreamed into the Linux kernel they will need an open-source user/client to exercise the kernel interfaces. From these initial patches it's not clear if they have an open-source user or what is ready to make use of this kernel driver. Besides the ROCm work there has also been other Xilinx open-source work so we'll see what all comes of this new AI Engine upstreaming effort.
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Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com 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 OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter, LinkedIn, or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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