3D Graphics Acceleration in Linux on Allwinner A80 based Cubieboard4

Allwinner A80 is a powerful octa-core processor found in development boards and TV boxes such as Cubieboard4 or Tronsmart Draco AW80. Some early Ubuntu images and instructions had already been released for A80 Optimusboard and Draco AW80, but none of these featured GPU drivers for 3D acceleration, which to be honest, has limited advantages in Linux desktop distributions since desktop environments and most apps require full OpenGL support, i.e. not only OpenGL ES, and the only ARM SoC that can provide OpenGL support without external graphics card is Nvidia Tegra K1 SoC. Having said that GPU drivers would pave the way for smooth OpenELEC / Kodi user interface support in Allwinner A80 Linux distributions. That’s only one part of the puzzle, since the GPU normally handles the user interface, while the VPU takes care of video decoding.

The good news is that CubieTech release updates images for their Cubieboard4 (CC-A80) development with PowerVR GC6200 GPU support, which you can download on Baidu:

  • linaro-cb4-emmc-vga-v0.3.img.7z is the eMMC flash image with VGA output
  • linaro-cb4-emmc-hdmi-v0.3.img.7z.md5 is the eMMC flash image with HDMI output

The company also provided instructions they followed to create the image, using two files they got from Allwinner rogue_km.tar.gz , and discimage-release-1.4-fix_buffer_ideas_20141216_no_gl.tar.gz, available on Cubieboard server.

The steps below have been completed in an Ubuntu 14.04 computer’s terminal window, and may need some corrections, since I’ve mostly edited them from an email but not tried myself:

  1. Build drivers

    The two drivers files dc_drmfbdev.ko and pvrsrvkm.ko can be found in linux-3.4/modules/rogue_km/binary_sunxi_linux_xorg_release/target_armhf directory
  2. Copy drivers to SD card
    You’ll need to download and extract Linaro Ubuntu 14.04 rootfs, and copy the drivers to a bootable sdcard in the rootfs partition
  3. Copy libraries to rootfs
  4. Insert the SD card into Cubieboard4 board, boot, and complete the steps as follows:

    Edit  /etc/modules to add the two lines:


    Insert the modules, run depmod, and reboot to complete the installation:


    Done!

Now you can test 3D graphics acceleration works with glmark2-es2 or es2gears:


Thanks to Ovidiu for the info.

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11 Replies to “3D Graphics Acceleration in Linux on Allwinner A80 based Cubieboard4”

  1. What? PowerVR are notorious for never supporting Linux. How did this happen?

    Probably a one off. I’m never buying anything PowerVR until they fix their Linux driver issues.

    But having said that, funny how rockchip have yet to release anything for their Mali GPU.

    Is Mali the new PowerVR?

  2. Call me what you want, but after 20yrs of using and developing for Linux, if the drivers aren’t upstreamed I don’t buy it. It’s not enough to have blobs or your distribution-of-choice package the drivers.

    And just to put money where my mouth is, I recently ordered Meegopad T01 knowing I’m not getting top-performance for my buck. It was simply the cheapest device I could find that can run any random Linux workstation distribution with video playback and UI acceleration without me having to go through hoops. Similarly I buy overpriced Raedons and Intel chips for my desktops. Even the ones running Windows.

  3. WatGoy :
    What? PowerVR are notorious for never supporting Linux. How did this happen?
    Probably a one off. I’m never buying anything PowerVR until they fix their Linux driver issues.
    But having said that, funny how rockchip have yet to release anything for their Mali GPU.
    Is Mali the new PowerVR?

    sorry but beageboard has PowerVR drivers for linux since they start
    intel gpu-s are base on powervr and they also has drivers
    all meego and maemo base nokia’s has powervr gpu and has linux drivers
    It looks like powervr always need some integration with soc vendor so that is problem

  4. Binary blobs… Ewww!!! 🙁

    Even stuff like stagefright is just an ugly hacks, sure blobs can make (Ubuntu-like) users happy, but not going to please anyone that wants to promote the FLOSS way.

    Too bad the lima driver didn’t seem to make it. ;-(

  5. m][sko :
    intel gpu-s are base on powervr and they also has drivers

    IIRC, that was just one chipset that integrated a PowerVR GPU, and it’s been a huge problem for them. Little or no FOSS support for that one chipset.
    All of Intel’s integrated GPUs since have been of their own design(s), and that’s what their Open Source drivers support.

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