Jesse Barnes, one of the developers within Intel's Open-Source Technology Center whose responsibilities largely deal with Intel's Linux graphics work, has shared some thoughts and statistics on past graphics-related releases. Jesse looked at the number of DRM commits to recent Linux kernel releases, a few thoughts on Mesa and xf86-video-intel releases, and the release history of the X Server.
Initially the ATI R600 GPUs and later with the available open-source drivers (xf86-video-ati and xf86-video-radeonhd) hadn't supported using the graphics card's integrated audio processor with HDMI output. An end-user though dissatisfied with this had went on to reverse-engineer the support for RadeonHD HDMI audio support. The audio patch was then merged to master within the last two weeks that now enable ATI HDMI audio output support with that open-source driver.
Last week was a major milestone for the Intel X.Org developers with GEM entering the mainline kernel and the xf86-video-intel 2.5.0 driver then subsequently being released on Monday. While these developers have accomplished a lot, there is still a lot of work ahead. Intel's Eric Anholt has commented on his blog about some of the recent work and what's still to come in the near future.
This weekend the xf86-video-intel 2.4.98 driver was released with hopes of releasing the Intel 2.5.0 driver on Monday. This driver is arriving a bit late compared to its original target of last month, but it's now available. This open-source Intel X.Org driver update features GEM integration (on supported systems), kernel mode-setting (on supported systems), improved EXA 2D performance, and quite a number of bug-fixes.
The xf86-video-intel 2.4.97 driver was released back in August as the first test-release for the 2.5.0 driver series. Some of the proposed changes for this quarterly update to Intel's open-source X.Org graphics driver include usable EXA support, GEM integration, kernel mode-setting support, video tearing fixes, and plenty of bug-fixes. It's been almost two months since this test driver was released, but Jesse Barnes has now pushed out the second and final test release for xf86-video-intel 2.5.
Since May when Intel first introduced their Graphics Execution Manager after X.Org developers were enraged over Tungsten's TTM memory manager and its development challenges, we've been talking about GEM several times since then.
Back in January, Intel had released 965 and G35 programming documentation to assist the open-source community in better enriching the X.Org display driver for their hardware. Intel hasn't yet released the documentation for their new GMA X4500 series, but today they have published their IGD OpRegion Specification.
Back in June the initial GMA 4-Series support was added to their open-source stack for mode-setting, 2D, 3D, and video acceleration along with DisplayPort and HDMI connector support with these new Intel integrated graphics processors. Following that we had published Intel GMA X4500 (G45) benchmarks under Linux using the latest code at the time. The GMA X4500 worked out fairly well, but Intel has since introduced the G41 Chipset.
It's been known that Intel has been working on producing some solid-state drives (SSDs), but today they have released their first two products. The X18-M and X25-M Mainstream SATA Solid-State Drives are Intel's first disk drives boasting these low-power, rugged, and responsive characteristics. As implied by the name, the X18-M is a 1.8" drive while the X25-M is a 2.5" SSD. Right now both drives are only available in an 80GB capacity, but a 160GB version promised for sampling by year's end. These first Intel solid state drives are based around their multi-level cell (MLC) NAND flash technology, but to be introduced shortly are single-level cell (SLC) SSDs. More information can be found in the Intel press release.
In addition to his plans for the X Server 1.6 release this year, Intel's Keith Packard had commented on a number of other X topics. In particular, Keith had clarified his intentions for UXA.
Intel's Jesse Barnes has today released the xf86-video-intel 18.104.22.168 driver. This is a test release that features integrated GEM memory manager and kernel-based mode-setting along with other improvements. The EXA performance should be improved but the video tearing improvements haven't yet been merged. The complete change-log and release announcement can be read on the X.Org mailing list. The final release of xf86-video-intel 2.5.0 can be expected later this year.
Earlier this month Intel announced its forthcoming Nehalem CPUs would officially be called the Intel Core i7 Processor Family.
Just about a month ago Intel had released the xf86-video-intel 2.4.0 driver for their IGP graphics graphics hardware running X.Org. This update brought Intel GMA X4500HD support, Intel 965 EXA RENDER extension improvements, HDMI support, and much more. Today though Intel has issued its first bug-fix release for this open-source driver.
For those into reading some hardware specifications, Intel has released the Extensible Host Controller Interface draft specification for USB 3.0. The revised xHCI 0.95 USB 3.0 specification is expected later this year. USB 3.0 "Super Speed USB" was first mentioned last year during the Intel Developer Forum in September (USB 3.0 Details). USB 3.0 will be backwards compatible with existing USB 1.1/2.0 devices and offer ten times the performance of USB 2.0, along with a host of other features. The royalty-free USB 3.0 specification can be read on Intel's website along with their press release.
There was the Core and Core 2 series of Intel desktop processors with Solo, Duo, Quad, and Extreme postfixes, while today Intel has announced their Core series will continue with their upcoming Nehalem processors. The processors based around their forthcoming Nehalem micro-architecture will be branded as the Intel Core i7.
The xf86-video-intel 2.4 driver was just released about three weeks ago, but we're already well into the xf86-video-intel 2.5 development cycle, which will be Intel's next quarterly graphics driver release. Intel's Jesse Barnes has provided a brief status on the code mergers taking place for this next open-source release.
Following concerns regarding the TTM memory manager, Intel had introduced their own kernel memory manager for graphics processors which they have called GEM, or the Graphics Execution Manager (A Technical Explanation of GEM). Intel's GEM is designed to be easier to implement than Tungsten's TTM that had only lived in the limelight for a short time.
XAA, or the XFree86 Acceleration Architecture, is over twelve years old and finally in 2005 it was greeted by a replacement, EXA. XAA is nearing an end-of-life and Intel is prepared to remove XAA acceleration within their next Intel graphics driver release later this year. EXA was designed to offer speed improvements over XAA by accelerating more options and enhancing X's RENDER extension. Depending upon the driver, it wasn't until recently though that EXA really did have some modest speed advantages. A new acceleration architecture has now joined the mix. Intel's Keith Packard has announced UXA, which is short for the UMA Acceleration Architecture.
Intel's Larrabee will not launch for another year or two, but additional details were shared this week on this project that will launch Intel into the discrete graphics arena. We've known this already, but Larrabee will be a many-core graphics processor with an x86 instruction set designed to compete with the graphics cards from both ATI/AMD and NVIDIA.
The xf86-video-intel 2.4.0 driver was released last week with support for GMA 4-Series Support, EXA Render improvements, and other enhancements. Now planning is already underway for the next driver release, version 2.5.0. Jesse Barnes is serving as the release manager for xf86-video-intel 2.5 and so far he has planned the following changes:
At OSCON 2008, Linux on mobile devices has been an extremely hot topic. This morning Intel's Dirk Hohndel had keynoted about their Atom-based mobile devices and netbooks and this afternoon he had a smaller session where he talked in greater detail about Moblin and what will be known as Moblin 2.0.
It's been about three months since the xf86-video-intel 2.3.0 driver was released and today they have now issued their next quarterly update. Version 2.4.0 of this Intel X.Org graphics driver brings GMA 4-Series support (including their new flagship X4500 IGP), improved i965 EXA Render performance, integrated HDMI support, and SDVO-HDMI support. In addition, there are many more minor fixes and changes, which are detailed in the xf86-video-intel 2.4.0 release announcement. At Phoronix we shared last month that this new driver update would be available in July.
This week Intel has unveiled its Centrino 2 platform that had been codenamed Montevina. The Centrino 2 notebook platform supports 45nm Penryn processors, GMA 4-Series graphics, up to DDR3-1333MHz support, DisplayPort/HDMI/DVI/VGA connectivity, 802.11g/n WiFi with an add-on card for 802.16 WiMax, and many other Intel innovations. Montevina will be the competition to AMD's Puma Platform that was introduced last month at Computex Taipei.
Back in May while open-source X developers were bickering about their TTM memory manager concerns, Intel's Keith Packard chimed in and announced Intel's Graphics Execution Manager, or GEM for short. The Graphics Execution Manager is Intel's replacement of Tungsten's TTM for their xf86-video-intel graphics driver. GEM seems to make memory management simpler and address some of the TTM shortcomings.
If you use the xf86-video-intel driver in a media box or just commonly watch movies using XvMC (X-Video Motion Compensation) for video acceleration of MPEG-2 files, you may want to check out the latest work going on to the Intel driver. No, XvMC doesn't yet support more video formats like Intel's Keith Packard had talked about at FOSDEM. Committed last night were nine XvMC-related patches to the xf86-video-intel git master branch for this open-source graphics driver. There's nothing groundbreaking about these updates, but a number of fixes and the batch buffer size has been increased.
Earlier this week support for Intel's GMA 4-Series Chipsets was committed to the xf86-video-intel DDX driver and OpenGL support in Mesa. In preparation for the forthcoming Intel GMA X4500, the Intel Linux driver has received some added work last night. In particular, HDMI should now be working with Intel hardware. In addition, DisplayPort registers have been added to the Intel driver, but it doesn't look like that connection is fully supported yet. These features should be part of the xf86-video-intel 2.4.0 driver release.
Committed this afternoon to the xf86-video-intel driver development branch at FreeDesktop.org is support for Intel's GMA 4-Series Chipsets. The 4-Series IGPs (namely the Intel X4500) are brand new and is designed to be three times faster than the current Intel GMA X3100. The commit for the G45 Linux graphics support can be viewed here. More information on the Intel G45 chipset can be read at Intel's website. Kudos to the Intel developers for delivering prompt support.
Intel's Eric Anholt has announced on the dri-devel mailing list that they are getting close to merging GEM to master. There was one last bug hitting the GEM folks but that seems to be worked out and the Intel engineers will proceed to merge GEM to master in all three repositories.
PowerTOP is an incredibly handy open-source utility of Intel's that had first premiered a year ago. As of this week, however, PowerTOP has been ported over to OpenSolaris. PowerTOP 1.0 was released for OpenSolaris, which is more or less an equivalent to the Linux version (which is currently at v1.9). This power conservation utility is for both x86 and SPARC architectures. This OpenSolaris port does, however, have some outstanding bugs and currently it doesn't have the power-savings recommendation feature. If you're interested, check out its project page.
Having been in development for a few months now and going through a couple development releases, version 2.3.0 of the xf86-video-intel driver has been released. The 2.3 release represents Intel's Q2'08 open-source driver update and the biggest change is the addition of XvMC (X-Video Motion Compensation) support for the Intel 915/945 IGPs. This graphics driver also has improved stability and a horde of bug-fixes. The release announcement and source download links can be found on the xorg-list. xf86-video-intel 2.3.0 will be part of the forthcoming X.Org 7.4 release.
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