A New Linux Frame-Buffer Driver Appears For Intel
Written by Michael Larabel in Intel on 8 December 2011 at 06:38 AM EST. 7 Comments
A new Intel kernel frame-buffer driver has been published to the Linux kernel mailing list. However, this driver isn't for the current-generation Intel graphics hardware, Ivy Bridge, Haswell, or even for the notorious PowerVR-based Poulsbo.

This new driver -- which is resurrected from some old code -- is for a very old Intel graphics processor. But it's not even the i800 IGP series we're talking about, but the Intel 740. The i740 was a disappointing graphics processor sold as an AGP graphics card, to other hardware vendors, and integrated on some motherboards during its short-lived life. Intel put out the i740 towards the end of the 90's but it failed to be a competitive product. The Intel 740 competed with the RIVA TNT from NVIDIA, but that was about it.

Now more than a decade later, a developer (Ondrej Zary) is pushing a resurrected Intel 740 driver for the Linux kernel. There was an i740 Linux driver in the past, which lived out-of-tree (the i740fbdev) and this was back in the Linux 2.4 kernel days. Ondrej has written this new Intel 740 driver based upon skeletonfb and using most of the low-level hardware code from the original Linux driver, but writing new DDC code and other bits.

So far he's managed to confirm this new Linux driver is working on the Protac AG240D and Diamond Stealth IIG460, which are two AGP graphics cards that use the i740 GPU and each boast 8MB of video memory.

It would be more interesting if this was a kernel mode-setting (KMS) driver for the Intel 740, but alas it's just a resurrected FB driver for a disappointing piece of hardware that wasn't too popular back in the 90's and now would be a challenge to still find in production use in 2011/2012. It's unknown whether this new driver will make it into the mainline Linux kernel.

If there happens to be any readers with such hardware, the driver patch can be found in this mailing list message.

Besides the FB driver, there's been a long-standing i740 X.Org driver (xf86-video-i740; Git). Besides configure and xorg-server compatibility updates, the last real work to the i740 X.Org driver was converting it to use libpciaccess back in 2008.

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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 10,000 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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