Intel Atom Camera Driver Resurrected In Linux 5.8 - Benefits A Lot Of Devices
Written by Michael Larabel in Multimedia on 4 June 2020 at 09:27 AM EDT. 12 Comments
MULTIMEDIA --
The Linux 5.8 media subsystem changes restore a previously dropped driver for supporting the cameras found on multiple generations of Intel Atom devices.

The "atomisp" driver is a big one at more than 168k lines of code and is for supporting the Intel ISP2 camera and MIPI sensors on multiple generations of Intel Atom laptops/tablets/2-in-1 type devices. But back in 2018, the atomisp driver was removed from the Linux kernel.

Besides Intel abandoning those Atom consumer devices, when stripping this driver out of the Linux kernel two years ago the comment by the Intel open-source developer was: "The atomisp driver has a long list of todo items and little has been done to address these lately while more has been added. The driver is also not functional. In other words, the driver would not be getting out of staging in the foreseeable future. At the same time it consumes developer resources in order to maintain the flaky code base. Remove it."

Two years later, Mauro Carvalho Chehab who manages the Linux media subsystem has decided to restore this driver and takeover maintenance due to the lack of Intel's support/interest. He noted in reverting the earlier deletion of the 168k+ lines of code, "There are some interest on having this driver back, and I can probably dedicate some time to address its issue. So, let's ressurect it."

Besides just adding the code back, Mauro has been working on a number of improvements to the driver so it works on the modern Linux 5.8 kernel and other improvements for where the driver was originally left in a frail state.

Mauro also noted in the pull request regarding this Atom ISP driver, "It is meant to work with 4 generations of cameras on Atom-based laptops, tablets and cell phones. So, it seems worth investing time to cleanup this driver and making it in good shape." There are a lot of devices out there that can make use of this restored driver.

The media updates for Linux 5.8 were merged overnight and include Atom ISP plus a new Rockchip video decoder IP driver, a ov2740 image sensor driver, and new V4L2 controls for identifying the camera orientation and sensor rotation of cameras on devices. Due in large part to the atomisp driver being restored, this media pull is huge at +260k lines of code and -106k lines of code.
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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 or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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