Rock Pi 4 SBC Runs GNOME & KDE Plasma using Panfrost Open Source GPU Driver & Wayland

RK3399 Panfrost GNOME

One of the highlights of Linux 5.2 release was support for two new Arm Mali GPU open-source drivers, namely Lima for Mali-4xx GPU, and Panfrost for the Midgard Mali-T6xx/7xx/8xx series, and the more recent Bifrost Mali-Gxx GPUs. Collabora worked on the release and was donated a few Rock Pi 4 boards from Radxa directly to work on the project. For those who are not familiar, Rock Pi 4 board is powered by a Rockchip RK3399 processor with a Mali-T860MP4 GPU that is supported by Panfrost open source GPU driver. The company managed to have Debian 10 Buster running on Rock Pi 4 using 3D graphics acceleration thanks to Panfrost drivers on both GNOME and KDE Plasma desktop environment, as well as Weston Wayland compositer. The good news is that you can build Rock Pi 4 images by yourself using Debos with the following commands: Alternatively, you could directly download pre-built images directly with Weston and Panfrost. You can login with …

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Linux 5.2 Release – Main Changes, Arm, MIPS & RISC-V Architectures

Linux 5.2 Changelog

Linus Torvalds announced the release of Linux 5.2 last Sunday: So I was somewhat pre-disposed towards making an rc8, simply because of my travels and being entirely off the internet for a few days last week, and with spotty internet for a few days before that [*]. But there really doesn’t seem to be any reason for another rc, since it’s been very quiet. Yes, I had a few pull requests since rc7, but they were all small, and I had many more that are for the upcoming merge window. Part of it may be due to the July 4th week, of course, but whatever – I’ll take the quiet week as a good sign. So despite a fairly late core revert, I don’t see any real reason for another week of rc, and so we have a v5.2 with the normal release timing. There’s no particular area that stands out there – the changes are sosmall that the appended …

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Google Fuchsia Operating System Gets its own Developer Website

Fuchsia Documentation

Google has been developing Fuchsia open source operating system based on Zircon kernel for several years. It’s still unclear what’s the end goal. Will it replace Android or/and Chrome OS, ditching the Linux kernel for Zircon in the process? We don’t know, and Google claims its an experimental endeavor. Only the future will tell. We’ve had access to the source code since 2016,  but Google has now launched a dedicated developer website for Fuchsia: This is year 2019, and Google being a Western company it should not be surprising the first part of the documentation is a Code of Conduct, but there’s also plenty of technical documentation with a glossary, getting started guide, building instructions, an overview of the OS, code samples, and instructions to contribute either by testing or submitting changes to Gerrit. Fuchsia is strictly a 64-bit operating system at this stage with support for Arm64 and x86-64 ISA only. If you want to test drive Fuchsia …

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Kazan Software Vulkan Implementation is Optimized for RISC-V Processors

Kazan Vulkan RISC-V GPU

More and more people want to run fully open source systems due to philosophical, privacy and security concerns, but on embedded systems with a GPU is often hard to achieve due to closed-source binary blobs. Projects such as Freedreno and Etnaviv have freed Qualcomm Adreno and Vivante GPUs, but it takes years to implement workable reverse-engineered open source GPU drivers. One solution to get an open source graphics driver from the get-go is to implement the rendering into the CPU, but the problem is that it’s usually really slow, and GPU’s are much faster thanks to their ability to quickly handle parallel tasks. Kazan is a software-rendering Vulkan implementation, but it may be eventually end up as a low-end soft-GPU in some RISC-V SoCs thanks to specific instructions. I found out about Kazan through the Libre RISC-V M-Class chip project that aims to be a low-power, mobile-class, 64-bit quad-core SoC clocked at a minimum 800 MHz clock rate and relying …

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Google Pik Image Format Improves on Lossy JPEG and Lossless PNG

Google Pik butteraugli

JPEG lossy compression is still used on most photos in the Internet, while PNG is still the preferred format for lossless compressions. Back in 2010, Google unveiled WebP to improve on both, but that’s only very recently that I started to see a few webp image on the Internet. The company has been working on yet another image for with Pik lossy/lossless image format designed for high quality and fast decoding. Some of the features enabling high quality: Built-in support for psychovisual modeling via adaptive quantization and XYB color space 4×4..32×32 DCT, AC/DC predictors, chroma from luma, nonlinear loop filter, enhanced DC precision Full-precision (32-bit float) processing, plus support for wide gamut and high dynamic range Features allowing faster decoding over 1 GB/s multi-threaded: Parallel processing of large images SIMD/GPU-friendly, benefits from SSE4 or AVX2 Cache-friendly layout Fast and effective entropy coding: context modeling with clustering, rANS Google Pik is royalty-free, and is said to achieve perceptually lossless encodings at …

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Panfrost is an Open Source Driver for Arm Mali Midgard GPUs

Panfrost open source arm gpu driver

Getting GPU drivers to work on Linux with Arm SoCs was really a struggle a few years ago due to close-sources binary blobs that required all bugs to be fixed by a single team. But in recent years we’ve seen good progress with open source mobile GPU drivers including Freedreno for Adreno GPUs, and Etnaviv for Vivante GPUs. Arm Mali also got its own open source Lima driver worked on for many years but only for older Utgard GPUs (Mali 400, Mali 450). However, during the Opensource GPU Drivers BoF at Linaro Connect Bangkok 2019, Rob Herring, Technical Architect at Linaro and Tomeu Vizoso, Principal Software Engineer at Collabora, discuss the status of drivers, and I learned about an open source driver for Mali Midgard (Mali-T6xx, Mali-T7xx) GPU called Panfrost. As we’ll see below, the driver is already capable of running basic demos, has been upstreamed to Mesa, and tested on Rockchip RK3288 / R3399, and Amlogic S912 with respectively …

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FOSDEM 2019 Open Source Developers Meeting Schedule


FOSDEM – which stands for Free and Open Source Software Developers’ European Meeting – is a free-to-participate event where developers meet on the first week-end of February to discuss open source software & hardware projects. FOSDEM 2019 will take place on February 2 & 3, and the schedule has already been published with 671 speakers scheduled to speak in 711 events themselves sorted in 62 tracks. Like every year, I’ll create a virtual schedule based on some of the sessions most relevant to this blog in tracks such as  open hardware, open media, RISC-V, and hardware enablement tracks. February 2 10:30 – 10:55 – VkRunner: a Vulkan shader test tool by Neil Roberts A presentation of VkRunner which is a tool to help test the compiler in your Vulkan driver using simple high-level scripts. Perhaps the largest part of developing a modern graphics driver revolves around getting the compiler to generate the correct code. In order to achieve this, extensive …

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Google Launches Pixel 3 & Pixel 3 XL Smartphones for $799 and Up

Google Pixel 3

Google just hosted a Made by Google hardware event, where they announced several products, and it’s always interesting to check out what they come up with. In this post, I’ll check out Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL premium smartphone from the company, and see if they implemented any significant “innovations”. Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL specifications: SoC – Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 octa-core processor with 4x Gold cores (Cortex A75 based) @ up to 2.50 GHz, 4x Silver cores (Cortex-A55 based) up to 1.60 GHz, Adreno 630 GPU, Pixel Visual Core, and Titan security chip System Memory – 4GB LPDDR4x Storage – 64GB or 128GB UFS storage Display Pixel 3 – 5.5″ FHD+ (2160×1080) flexible? always-on OLED display with Corning Gorilla Glass 5 Pixel 3 XL – 6.3″  QHD+ (2960 x 1440) always-on OLED display with Corning Gorilla Glass 5 Cameras Rear camera – 12.2MP dual-pixel camera with auto-focus, OIS. Video up to 4K @ 30 fps, 720p …

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