The New DRM Graphics Drivers For Linux 4.2: AMDGPU & VirtIO
Written by Michael Larabel in Linux Kernel on 6 June 2015 at 06:51 AM EDT. 1 Comment
The Linux 4.2 kernel will bring to mainline two prominent new Direct Rendering Manager drivers.

This week I wrote about AMDGPU Driver Called For Pulling Into DRM-Next For Linux 4.2 Kernel and VirtIO GPU Driver Looks To Be Added To Linux 4.2 Kernel. Both pull requests ended up being honored by DRM subsystem maintainer David Airlie: AMDGPU and VirtIO DRM drivers are sitting in the DRM-Next tree for merging to the mainline kernel once the Linux 4.2 merge window opens.

AMDGPU is the new AMD kernel driver for supporting the Radeon R9 285 Tonga and the imminent Carrizo and Fiji GPUs with the Radeon Rx 300 series. It was back in April that AMD published the code to this new kernel driver that one day might also end up being used by the Catalyst Linux driver as part of AMD's unified Linux driver strategy.

TONGA - AMD Radeon R9 285 Tonga Performance On Linux

This kernel driver works in conjunction with (currently branched) Mesa and libdrm code along with a new xf86-video-amdgpu DDX. LLVM 3.7 or newer is also desired for the AMD GPU back-end. The AMD Tonga GPU up to now has seen no open-source support while the Fiji and Carrizo GPUs are shipping later this month. All major functionality is supported by this new DRM driver except for power management only being implemented for Carrizo in Linux 4.2.

I'll have out AMDGPU benchmarks with Tonga (followed by Carrizo) once the Linux 4.2 kernel is officially under development.

The other new DRM driver is this VirtIO driver to tie into Red Hat's stack. This driver works for the VirtIO GPU and implements enough that the xf86-video-modesetting DDX can work with this virtual device. This is also a stepping stone toward the Virgil3D guest acceleration support for VMs that David Airlie has long been tackling.

Aside from the new DRM drivers, there's also many improvements and additions to the existing DRM drivers for Linux 4.2 as already talked about in some articles while many more articles followed by benchmarks will be forthcoming on Phoronix.
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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 or contacted via

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