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Thread: Intel's Poulsbo Driver A Bloody Mess?

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  1. #1
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    Default Intel's Poulsbo Driver A Bloody Mess?

    Phoronix: Intel's Poulsbo Driver A Bloody Mess?

    Most of the Intel Atom netbooks currently on the market (like the Lenovo IdeaPad S10, Samsung NC10, and ASUS Eee PC) use the GMA 950 Chipset for their integrated graphics, but some of the newer models are using the Intel GMA 500. The GMA 500 doesn't share many traits with other mobile Intel IGPs since much of the technology was licensed from PowerVR, which means a different X.Org display driver is required. Rather than using the xf86-video-intel driver that receives active development from Intel and is often leading the other open-source X.Org drivers when it comes to features like the Graphics Execution Manager, kernel mode-setting, and DRI2, a new driver had to be created for the GMA 500...

    http://www.phoronix.com/vr.php?view=NzAyOQ

  2. #2
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    Finally someone speaks up about this mess!

    First of all, I think very highly of intel's open source efforts, but the way this GMA 500 business was dealt with sucks.

    If "we" have to restart the whole "no blob, please publish documentation" stuff every time some new hardware comes around, things will never get anywhere... Intel could have handled this better, instead there already are devices out there, and as usual, microsoft has the leg up.

    When I first heard about the Dell Mini 12 I thought it was pretty cool, especially the relation between the screen size and the weight; but then I heard about the "GMA 500"-not-really-intel, and all poulsbo devices were off my possible purchase list instantly.

    At least I think it's interesting to see the first driver implementing VA-API that I know of.

  3. #3
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    Hopefully the intel guys come together and fix the damn thing and also make it completely open source. Did not know about this, yet.

  4. #4
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    Note that the PowerVR SGX stuff is used in much more then just the Dell Mini-12.

    It's used in other architectures. For example the OMAP3 being used in the OpenPandora Handheld and the developer oriented BeagleBoard has the PowerVR SGX chipset.

    It's what is going to be showing up in handhelds all over the place. Any powerful ARM 'smartphone' or any stripped down Intel MID or PDA or smartphone device is going to be utilizing the PowerVR technology.

    So it's not just a question of the Atom platform.. this bad boy is going to be showing up all over the place in all sorts of different devices.

    So it's especially bad because the proprietary x86 driver won't work in x86-64, nor will it work in the ARM platform. People shipping PowerVR-based graphics in ARM will need their own, seperate, proprietary Linux driver.

    It's a clusterf*k alright. With a open source driver you'd be able to update your code as well as created a unified driver that will be easily made to work across lots of different devices irregardless of the actual architecture.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by drag View Post
    Note that the PowerVR SGX stuff is used in much more then just the Dell Mini-12.

    It's used in other architectures. For example the OMAP3 being used in the OpenPandora Handheld and the developer oriented BeagleBoard has the PowerVR SGX chipset.
    Thankfully (it's a mixed bag, though...), the OMAP3 crowd has drivers written by Imagination Technologies and the GPL compatible kernel wedges showed up last month. The Pandora kernel team's working on verification of things right now on that front. We have working 3D that works against modern kernels and distributions...for now...

    So it's especially bad because the proprietary x86 driver won't work in x86-64, nor will it work in the ARM platform. People shipping PowerVR-based graphics in ARM will need their own, seperate, proprietary Linux driver.
    Actually... They will only need ONE driver. The one TI's providing to people right at the moment- there's a GPLed kernel wedge and then two proprietary ES 1.1 and 2.0 API libraries you link against. This is for ANYTHING using the OMAP3 right at the moment, including Beagleboard, Pandora, and Nokia's N9XX series devices.

    It's still a problem, but it's not as bad as you're making out to be. I'd dearly love beyond words to see ImgTec turn around and provide info on how to push the limits on their chip. But, that's not happening and as long as they're doing the "right thing" a' la NVidia, for now, that'll work.

    It's a clusterf*k alright. With a open source driver you'd be able to update your code as well as created a unified driver that will be easily made to work across lots of different devices irregardless of the actual architecture.
    You're preaching to the choir. VIA's apparently figured this one out. Intel's done it too (They can't do it with the GMA500 as it's NOT theirs to do it with, but with the other GMA's and Larabee, they are...). Same with AMD- and it's the one with the most potential and promise on the desktop. It's just Imagination, NVidia, and S3 that're being a pain right at the moment.

  6. #6
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    Phoronix, Thanks SO much for shining a light on this mess!

    Intel, are you listening? Anyone?

    I spent $2800 Cdn on a Poulsbo based Panasonic CF-U1 MID ( my story here: http://forums.fedoraforum.org/showthread.php?t=201018 ) with no idea what I was getting myself into.

    Intel has been doing such a great job maintaining the desktop stuff (i810 driver, etc), that I saw their name and just jumped in trustingly. I keep hoping someone on that team will come to my rescue and help clean this stuff up? I don't know who else would possibly have the time or knowledge to keep this stuff updated.

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    I think the problem here is more Imagination Technologies than Intel, and Intel is far from being their only customer. Without convincing them, the options for proper support are going to be limited. The PowerVR variant in Dreamcast has been pretty well reverse-engineered, but I don't know how similar it is to the current stuff.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ex-Cyber View Post
    I think the problem here is more Imagination Technologies than Intel, and Intel is far from being their only customer. Without convincing them, the options for proper support are going to be limited. The PowerVR variant in Dreamcast has been pretty well reverse-engineered, but I don't know how similar it is to the current stuff.
    I think the Sega Dreamcast uses a PowerVR Series 2 chipset whereas the PowerVR SGX 535 used by intel is a Series 5 chipset. I don't know how similar they are.

  9. #9
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    Oh it seems that the palm pre, and nokia's successor to the n810 are also expected to have PowerVR SGX cores.

    Maybe if there is enough interested and enough developers here we can form a group to create fully free drivers for the hardware? It would probably help if there were people willing who have done X.org driver development and someone who was familiar with clean room reverse engineering.

  10. #10
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    Since this driver seems to be in such poor shape, perhaps they should cease work on it and instead start from scratch on a Gallium3D driver.

    Unless off course the idea from MostAwesemeDude pans out.

    Still, the more Gallium3D drivers we have, the less driver maintenance needed in the future.

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