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Writing an open source GPU driver – without the hardware

Filed under
Development
Graphics/Benchmarks
Hardware

After six months of reverse-engineering, the new Arm “Valhall” GPUs (Mali-G57, Mali-G78) are getting free and open source Panfrost drivers. With a new compiler, driver patches, and some kernel hacking, these new GPUs are almost ready for upstream.

In 2021, there were no Valhall devices running mainline Linux. While a lack of devices poses an obvious obstacle to device driver development, there is no better time to write drivers than before hardware reaches end-users. Developing and distributing production-quality drivers takes time, and we don’t want users to be reliant on closed source blobs. If development doesn’t start until a device hits shelves, that device could reach “end-of-life” by the time there are mature open drivers. But with a head start, we can have drivers ready by the time devices reach end users.

Let’s see how.

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Also: Rosenzweig: Writing an open source GPU driver – without the hardware

And related: Graphics Driver Changes Begin Lining Up For Linux 5.18

Reverse Engineering & Open-Source Driver Work Advancing For Arm'

  • Reverse Engineering & Open-Source Driver Work Advancing For Arm's Valhall GPU

    The Arm Mali Valhall architecture reverse-engineering started last summer and while limited in the reverse engineering capabilities for several months, it looks like by this summer we'll hopefully see a working driver for Arm's newer graphics IP.

    Alyssa Rosenzweig who has spearheaded the Panfrost driver effort wrote a new blog post detailing the months-long effort so far for reverse-engineering Arm "Valhall" GPUs (Mali G57 and G78) with the goal of having a working open-source driver stack just as there is for prior Mali graphics hardware on Linux.

Speeding up Panfrost open-source GPU driver...

  • Speeding up open-source GPU driver development with unit tests, drm-shim, and code reuse - CNX Software

    Getting an Arm platform that works with mainline Linux may take several years as the work is often done by third parties, and the silicon vendor has its own Linux tree. That means in many cases, the software is ready when the platform is obsolete or soon will be. It would be nice to start software development before the hardware is ready. It may seem like a crazy idea, but that’s what the team at Collabora has done to add support for Arm “Valhall” GPUs...

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