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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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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Arm Introduces Cortex-A77 CPU and Mali-G77 GPU

Arm Cortex A77

Arm unveiled its Cortex-A76 CPU and Mali-G76 GPU right before Computex 2018, so it should come as no surprise that the company decided to make announcements for the upgrades before Computex 2019 with the just introduced Arm Cortex-A77 processor, and Mali-G77 GPU. Arm Cortex-A77 Processor highlights: 64-bit Armv8 CPU with support for Armv8.1 and Armv8.2 extensions, as well as Armv8.3 with LDAPR instructions only Up to 4 processors per cluster Cache – 64KB L1 I-Cache / D-Cache, 256KB to 512KB L2 Cache, optional L3 Cache between  512KB and 4MB Improved performance for mobile and laptop devices enabling AAA-gaming, faster web-browsing and application launch time. Brings always-on, always-connected feature set of mobile to laptop devices Compatible with the newly announced Mali-G77 and machine learning (ML) processor. Compared to Cortex-A76, Cortex-A77 yields up to 20% improved IPC performance with similar efficiency. The new IP core is basically an upgrade over A76 with the same key features but better performance, as you can …

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SiFive RISC-V Processors to Support Imagination PowerVR GPU and NNA IP Cores


RISC-V is getting more popular and mature as development progress, but if you want a system with RISC-V and a GPU so far you had to use a PCIe graphics card which is not cost-effective nor practical for most applications based on RISC-V processor. What is needed is some GPU IP that will glue with RISC-V core. Developing a new GPU is not an easy task (understatement of the month) so it would make sense to go with solutions available on the market. However, Arm Mali is tied to Arm Cortex cores and Arm is unlikely to want to help RISC-V take away their market share, and Adreno and VideoCore are owned by respectively Qualcomm and Broadcom which are unwilling to provide their GPU IP to third parties. This basically leaves us with Vivante and Imagination. Vivante may have made the most sense since open-source graphics drivers do exist (Etnaviv), but instead, I’ve just learned that SiFive added Imagination Technologies …

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Embedded Linux Conference & Open Source Summit 2019 Schedule

Embedded Linux Conference 2019 Schedule

In the last few years, I covered the Embedded Linux Conference and IoT Summit schedules since both were happening at the same time and in the same location. But the Linux Foundation have recently announced the Embedded Linux Conference will combine with the Open Source Summit, so the IoT Summit appears to have been phased out. The full schedule for the events taking place on August 21 – 23, 2019 at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront, USA, has also been released, so I’ll create a virtual schedule with some of the sessions most relevant to this blog. Wednesday August 21, 2019 11:30 – 12:05 – What’s New with U-Boot? by Simon Glass, Google LLC U-Boot is a widely used bootloader in embedded systems. Many users are unaware of the wide feature-set of U-Boot, particularly features added in the last few years. This talk aims to bring users (and prospective users) up to speed on the state of the art in …

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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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ODROID-N2 GPU Drivers, Linux 5.0, and Impressive glmarks-es2 Score

Ubuntu 18.04 Gnome Wayland ODROID-N2

ODROID-N2 was announced last February for $63 (2GB RAM), and $79 (4GB RAM), but Hardkernel was not quite ready to take orders at the time. One of the good news is that the 4GB RAM is now available for pre-order with shipping scheduled to start on April 3. Another good news is on the software side with Hardkernel having released the userland Mali-G52 Wayland driver. It does not work well with Linux 4.9 due to incomplete DRM implementation, but it goes work with Linux 5.0 plus some modifications as further discussed in the aforelinked forum thread. The screenshot above, courtesy of odroid forum member memeka , shows ODROID-N2 running Ubuntu 18.04 + Gnome3 + Linux 5.0 on top of Wayland with GPU drivers providing acceleration as shown by glmark2-es2-wayland test program. The benchmark results are pretty impressive: I’ve never seen such as high score (1,119 points) on Arm hardware. But at the same time, I’ve never run the wayland version …

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