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Graphics: Mesa and Intel

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  • GLX_ARB_create_context_no_error Support Lands In Mesa 19.1

    Mesa 19.1 has added support for the GLX extension to create an OpenGL / OpenGL ES context that doesn't generate errors -- assuming the driver supports the likes of KHR_no_error. For applications/games acquiring their GL/GLES context in this no-error mode, it can yield possible performance benefits.

    After floating around the mailing list for many months (well, almost two years!), GLX_ARB_create_context_no_error support has landed into the Mesa GLX code for next quarter's 19.1 release.

  • NIR Improvements Land In Mesa 19.1, Helping RadeonSI & Intel

    Over the past day there has been some notable NIR improvements landing in Mesa 19.1.

    First up, Timothy Arceri working for Valve landed partial loop unrolling support to the common NIR compiler code. For a Rise of the Tomb Raider compute shader test this partial loop unrolling drops the GPU time from 350 to 325 seconds. The shader-db coverage also is in favor on various Radeon and Intel systems. Timothy also pushed several follow-on patches with related enhancements.

  • Intel Sends Out Comet Lake Linux Graphics Driver Support

    While we are looking forward most to Icelake with the new "Gen 11" graphics, Intel has been working on Comet Lake for introduction this year as a Coffeelake derived successor to Whiskey Lake for desktops and mobile devices. The patches needed for Comet Lake graphics driver support on Linux are now pending.

    Sent out last week were the patches for adding Comet Lake "CML" support to the Intel Linux DRM kernel driver. Given that Comet Lake graphics are pretty much the same Kabylake/Coffeelake "Gen 9" graphics that have been out for a while, it's namely new PCI IDs being added.

Linux Graphics: Aurora and TURNIP

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  • Open-Source Adreno Driver Gets A6xx "Zap" Shader - Lets GPU Leave Secure Mode

    Thanks to the Qualcomm / Linux Foundation Code Aurora, patches are pending for the Freedreno MSM DRM kernel driver to allow the latest-generation Adreno 600 series hardware to leave its "secure" mode. 

    While the Adreno A6xx series support has come together nicely in recent months for the DRM kernel driver and Freedreno Gallium3D driver, currently it's stuck in the "secure" mode at boot that restricts memory access and other safeguards... Part of the overall industry trend of tightening up access to the graphics processors in the name of better security.

  • TURNIP: An Open-Source Vulkan Driver For Qualcomm Adreno Hardware Now In Mesa

    TURNIP is the newest Mesa-based Vulkan driver in development that provides open-source support for this graphics/compute API on Qualcomm Adreno hardware. 

    The Turnip driver stems from the Freedreno driver project and is providing an open-source Vulkan driver for use with Qualcomm hardware... The Freedreno OpenGL Gallium3D driver has long been in great shape and now attention has turned to Vulkan. This Vulkan driver has been developed in recent months by Bas Nieuwenhuizen (RADV lead developer, of Google), Chia-I Wu (Google, formerly LunarG), and others.

Intel P-State vs. CPUFreq Frequency Scaling Performance On The Linux 5.0 Kernel

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It's been a while since last running any P-State/CPUFreq frequency scaling driver and governor comparisons on Intel desktop systems, so given the recent release of Linux 5.0 I ran some tests for looking at the current state of affairs. Using an Intel Core i9 9900K I tested both the P-State and CPUFreq scaling drivers and their prominent governor options for seeing not only how the raw performance compares but also the system power consumption, CPU thermals, and performance-per-Watt.

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Vega Code, Blobs and 'Leaks'

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  • Updated Vega 20 Firmware Binaries & Other AMDGPU Files Land In Linux-Firmware.Git

    For those habitually riding the bleeding-edge open-source Radeon graphics driver stack, there are some updated firmware files now available for newer AMD graphics processors.

    Hitting Linux-Firmware.Git this morning are updated Vega 20 files for the likes of the Radeon VII, Polaris 12 updates, and updated firmware for the yet-to-debut Picasso APUs. Other generations of AMD Radeon GPUs are unchanged in the linux-firmware tree.

  • Mysterious AMD GPU Benchmark Submission Appears to Be Vega, Not Navi

    While it is hard to tell what exactly this GPU is, if Linux's driver IDs can be trusted, it doesn't appear to be Navi. Even if the GPU is from the Navi lineup, it's hard to glean useful performance data and GPU specifications due to the nature of the CompuBench benchmark. For now, it appears more likely this is just another Vega 20 GPU, perhaps even a new WX Pro series model.

Nouveau NIR Support Slated To Land In Mesa 19.1 Over The Days Ahead

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The work done by Red Hat's Karol Herbst over the past year for plumbing in NIR intermediate representation support within the open-source NVIDIA "Nouveau" Gallium3D driver will finally be landing.

Karol Herbst sent out the latest 34 patches while sharing his intentions to go ahead and merge the code to Mesa over the next few days. This means the experimental Nouveau NIR support would be part of next quarter's Mesa 19.1 release.

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Also: SVT-AV1 Performance Continues Speeding Ahead, Xeon/EPYC Video Encode Benchmarks

Announcing the release of sway 1.0

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1.0 is the first stable release of sway and represents a consistent, flexible, and powerful desktop environment for Linux and FreeBSD. We hope you’ll enjoy it! If the last sway release you used was 0.15 or earlier, you’re in for a shock. 0.15 was a buggy, frustrating desktop to use, but sway 1.0 has been completely overhauled and represents a much more capable desktop. It’s almost impossible to summarize all of the changes which makes 1.0 great. Sway 1.0 adds a huge variety of features which were sorely missed on 0.x, improves performance in every respect, offers a more faithful implementation of Wayland, and exists as a positive political force in the Wayland ecosystem pushing for standardization and cooperation among Wayland projects.

When planning the future of sway, we realized that the Wayland ecosystem was sorely in need of a stable & flexible common base library to encapsulate all of the difficult and complex facets of building a desktop. To this end, I decided we would build wlroots. It’s been a smashing success. This project has become very important to the Linux desktop ecosystem, and the benefits we reap from it have been shared with the community at large. Dozens of projects are using it today, and soon you’ll find it underneath most Linux desktops, on your phone, in your VR environment, and more. Its influence extends beyond its borders as well, as we develop and push for standards throughout Wayland.

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Spectre/Meltdown Performance Impact Across Eight Linux Distributions

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While nearly all Linux distributions have been mitigated against the Spectre and Meltdown CPU vulnerabilities for over one year, the performance ahead associated with these speculative execution vulnerabilities can vary. This is especially more so with the enterprise Linux distributions that are generally shipping on older kernel branches prior to where the initial kernel support was mainlined. With recent kernel releases we've also seen varying optimizations and other changes around the Spectre/Meltdown/L1TF mitigations. So for those wondering about the varying impact, here are some side-by-side benchmarks.

For those curious how the Spectre/Meltdown mitigation impact can vary between Linux distributions, on the same system I tested eight different Linux distributions while comparing the default mitigation costs to that of disabling all possible Spectre/Meltdown/L1TF mitigations that can be run-time disabled. The same up-to-date microcode of the BIOS/firmware was maintained the same with primarily going to the extents an end-user would if wanting to try to recover the performance costs involved with Spectre/Meltdown on each of the tested Linux distributions.

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Linux and Graphics: SIMPLE_LMK, Direct Rendering and Mesa's Panfrost Gallium3D Driver

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  • SIMPLE_LMK: A Low Memory Killer For Android Systems Being Worked On For Linux Kernel

    SIMPLE_LMK is a simple low-memory killer being worked on for potential upstreaming in the mainline Linux kernel in the future but for now is simply seeking comments on its design approach. 

    SIMPLE_LMK is being worked on by Sultan Alsawaf, a kernel engineer currently employed by the self-driving car startup. This low memory killer is designed for Android and relies upon the priorities assigned to processes within the Android ecosystem for determining what applications should be killed off first -- those with the lowest priority. This implementation is tied into the kernel's page allocator code and begins acting as soon as a page allocation hits out-of-memory and for knowing when a page is freed. 

  • A DRM-Based Linux Oops Viewer Is Being Proposed Again - Similar To Blue Screen of Death

    Back when kernel mode-setting (KMS) was originally talked about a decade ago one of the talked about possibilities of implementing a Linux "Blue Screen of Death" / better error handling when a dramatic system problem occurs. Such an implementation never really materialized but now in 2019 there is a developer pursuing new work in this area with a DRM-based kernel oops viewer.

    Ahmed Darwish is the developer now pursuing this "kernel oops viewer" with the intention of implementing the support as "minimal" DRM drivers for each hardware -- something slim enough that these drivers could still work in the cases of major kernel problems, so not using any dynamic memory, IRQs disabled, and other minimal assumptions about the state of the hardware or its capabilities. Ahmed looked at using the standards offered by UEFI, but the UEFI-provided frame-buffer is normally lost once the operating system DRM/KMS drivers take over.

  • Mesa's Panfrost Gallium3D Driver Can Now Work With Its New DRM Driver

    The Panfrost Gallium3D driver has been quick to take form since it was merged to the Mesa 19.1 development code a month ago providing open-source 3D support for Arm Mali Midgard and Bifrost graphics hardware. The latest achievement for this Gallium3D driver in Mesa Git is being able to run with the yet-to-be-merged DRM kernel driver.

    Up to now the Panfrost driver has been pushed along with Arm's non-DRM kernel driver while recently Collabora and other developers have been creating a new open-source "Panfrost" DRM/KMS kernel driver with their eyes on eventually getting it into the mainline kernel. That DRM kernel driver is still under active development and hopefully later in the year will be in a state for merging into the mainline kernel once its user-space ABI has been deemed stable. But already the Mesa 19.1-devel Git code has added support for using this new kernel driver.

Graphics: Gallium's Direct3D 9 State Tracker and NVIDIA Kepler Mainline Driver Support

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  • Intel's New Driver Is Now Working With Gallium's Direct3D 9 State Tracker

    Following the Gallum Nine "TTN" support landing to allow a TGSI-to-NIR code path to be used rather than requiring Gallium3D drivers support the conventional TGSI intermediate representation, Intel's new "Iris" driver now is working with Gallium D3D9 after the final bit of code was merged.

    The Iris driver has added the TGSI to NIR integration and with this "the Gallium Nine state tracker now works on Iris."

  • NVIDIA Kepler Mainline Driver Support Nears Retirement, Starting With Notebook GPUs

    NVIDIA will no longer be officially supporting Kepler mobile/notebook GPUs by their mainline driver. For now at least they will continue supporting Kepler desktop GPUs by their mainline driver.

    On Friday was a knowledge-base article by NVIDIA outlining the support plan for Kepler GeForce GPUs for notebooks. Beginning next month (April), Kepler notebook GPUs will no longer be supported by the company's GameReady drivers but they will continue providing critical security updates through April 2020.

Graphics and Games: X.Org Server, Egosoft and "Is Shadow Ghost Cloud Gaming As Great As A Powerful PC?"

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Excellent Utilities: lnav – the log file navigator

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