There has been a lot of controversy around GPU drivers and open source, as GPU drivers usually come with a blob (a binary file). If you have been lurking in Raspberry Pi forums you’ll know what I mean.
But this will change thanks to Lima. No, not the capital of Peru but the open source graphics driver for ARM Mali GPUs (Mali-200 and Mali-400) also called Lima whose goal is stated as follows:
The aim of this driver is to finally bring all the advantages of open source software to ARM SoC graphics drivers. Currently, the sole availability of binary drivers is increasing development and maintenance overhead, while also reducing portability, compatibility and limiting choice. Anyone who has dealt with GPU support on ARM, be it for a Linux with a GNU stack, or for an Android, knows the pain of dealing with these binaries. Lima is going to solve this for you, but some time is needed still to get there.
Yesterday, the Lima developers created a repository and pushed the current code to Lima’s gitorious project.
This is not a release in the sense of having a stable binary, but an alpha (beta?) source code release. As explained on Lima’s website:
The Lima driver currently only has some preliminary and highly experimental support. This experimental phase is necessary to gain a full and complete understanding of how the Mali GPUs work. Once more is known, an actual graphics driver (most likely based off of Mesa/Gallium) can be written.
The Lima driver is supported on the following ARM SoC:
- AMLogic 8726-M – Single core Cortex A9 with Mali-400 found in many cheap Android Tablets.
- Allwinner A10 – Cortex A8 with Mali-400 found in some cheap tablets and the upcoming RhombusTech low cost board.There is also a development board.
- ST-Ericsson Novathor – Dual Core Cortex A9 with Mali 400. This processor is found in Snowball development board as well as one HTC Z710t smartphone (Only available in China).
- Samsung Exynos – Dual core Cortex A9 with Mali 400. It is used in high-end smartphones (E.g. Samgun Galaxy S II) and the Samsung Origen development board.
- Telechips 8902 and 8803 – ARM11 and Cortex A8 SoC with Mali-200 found in many (older) cheap tablets.
If you are interested in conrtibution to the projects, you can reach the developers on irc on freenode in the #lima channel or by subscribing to the mailing list
Jean-Luc started CNX Software in 2010 as a part-time endeavor, before quitting his job as a software engineering manager, and starting to write daily news, and reviews full time later in 2011.