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Broadcom's New Open-Source GPU Stack Earns Praise

Hardware

Published on 05 March 2014 12:17 PM EST
Written by Michael Larabel in Hardware
13 Comments

Last week we talked about Broadcom finally open-sourcing their VideoCore IV 3D Graphics Stack and it is indeed the real McCoy, but the $10,000 Quake III bounty has yet to be claimed for getting it to work on the Raspberry Pi.

Luc Verhaegen, the former SUSE employee that was one of the original RadeonHD driver developers and then as of late has been independently working on the Lima driver as a reverse-engineered ARM Mali driver, wrote a blog post today sharing happiness for Broadcom's open-source play.

In late 2012 when Broadcom and the Raspberry Pi Foundation unveiled their original GPU driver code and every leaped for joy, Luc was one of the first to point out the flaws in Broadcom's open-source effort. We later wrote about how the Raspberry Pi driver turned out to be crap.

Luc's blog post today doesn't carry a negative tone but surprise and happiness for Broadcom's latest open-source driver initiative. "I received an email from Eben Upton last friday, where he pointed out the big news. I replied that I would have to take a thorough look first, but then also stated that I didn't expect Eben to email me if this hadn't been the real thing. I then congratulated him extensively. And congratulations really are in order here...in Oktober of 2012, my understanding was that the RPI foundation wasn't interested in wielding that power to reach those goals which I and many others hold dear. And I was really surprised when it now was revealed that they did, as I had personally given up on this ever happening, and I had assumed that the RPI foundation was not intending to go all the way."

The big drop last week from Broadcom included a user manual for the 3D graphics core, sample code for a different Broadcom SoC and runs on the ARM core, and sample code that includes header files that would benefit VideoCore reverse-engineering. There's also a promise of releasing more VideoCore documentation and a "properly free" bootloader.

Broadcom's New Open-Source GPU Stack Earns Praise


Luc now calls Broadcom second only to Intel in open-source driver friendliness and even considers their work to be more friendly than AMD's open-source Linux driver initiatives. "All in all, this Broadcom release is the best news I have heard since I started on the open ARM GPU path, it actually is the best news I've had since AMD accepted our proposal to free the ATI Radeon (back in june 2007). This release fully makes up for the bad communication of Oktober 2012, and has opened the door to making the BCM2835 the most free SoC out there."

Read more on Luc's blog.

About The Author
Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the web-site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience and being the largest web-site devoted to Linux hardware reviews, particularly for products relevant to Linux gamers and enthusiasts but also commonly reviewing servers/workstations and embedded Linux devices. Michael has written more than 10,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics hardware drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated testing software. He can be followed via and or contacted via .
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