Imagination PowerVR SDK Blog

Linux and Open Source


#1

Hello Community,



Member of the OpenPandora community with devices using TI SoC (OMAP 3 and in a near future OMAP 5),

I believe that working on Open Source drivers for the SGX could be a good idea.



Are there works ?

Could it be works ?

What are the Imagination feelings on that point ?



#2

Hi,



Apologies for the delayed response. I’ve spoken to our Marketing team to clarify the company’s position on this topic. Here is the response I received from them. Hope this helps.



  1. There is significant IP within our reference drivers and, as a company selling IP, it represents significant value to our organisation. By completely opening up these drivers as open source it would have a negative impact on our revenue stream.

  2. IMG only provides reference drivers to its licensees. Product drivers require customisation to the platform our IP has been integrated in. This integration requires customer confidential work and hence even if we wanted to we are unable to deliver open source drivers based on our IP.

  3. Modified reference driver kernel source code may be released under a GPL licence by our licensees. It is their choice to do this.

  4. Our driver support is in line with market requirements and other players in this space (we refer to other IP licensing companies and not silicon companies who can make their own decisions about the opening up of IP) – we continue to evaluate market requests versus commercial implications.



Regards,
Joe

#3

With all due respect, Joe, your remarks regarding market requirements are incorrect at best, if not (unfortunately) badly disconnected from the market itself.



I work as an embedded developer and, while I do understand the commercial nature of proprietary driver code (and its competitive advantages within the power consumption-sensitive mobile space), I feel that my workflow is made significantly more complicated as a consequence of your approach to direct driver support within the market.



With the acquisition of MIPS’ intellectual property and your attempts to stave off ARM in the embedded space, how can the embedded community (both hardware AND software developers) take IMGTEC seriously as a vendor partner when you are unable to fully support (in conjunction with your partners) the existing IP hardware cores in the market?



I own an Intel Atom N2800-based laptop, which I purchased to benchmark an Intel-platform implemented application for an industrial client–but I am hamstrung on operating system support (no Windows XP support, no mainstream Linux support), which directly instigated a move to an AMD embedded solution as a consequence.



As an ARM platform developer, how should I respond when a client’s engineering team is reviewing options for display support, if it implies specific constraints (in the TI case) of supported kernel version? Why would I not steer them toward a ARM Mali or Vivante GC-series solution instead? (Or Intel / AMD / Qualcomm Adreno / nVIDIA, for that matter?)



While I also understand that IMGTEC may not (presently) believe that the embedded space is important (relative to the high-volume mobile market, including Apple and Qualcomm), I do hope that you reconsider this carefully–specifically:


  1. mainstream Linux binary blob support (Intel Atom) for popular distributions such as Ubuntu
  2. better build and testing integration with embedded licensees (e.g., TI)
  3. direct engagement with the developer (and maker) community with a PowerVR Rogue-based experimenter board, which will provide IMGTEC with the necessary market interaction required to earn (back) embedded developer goodwill



    …or you may ignore any of this, at your own peril (given Apple’s less-than-secret efforts to refine their own graphics IP technologies in-house). In either case, it has been incredibly disappointing over the last five years dealing with support for IMGTEC IP cores across a variety of developer platforms, and I do hope that you take this to heart.

#4

Hi David,



Thanks for the feedback. I have forwarded it to relevant parties within Imagination for their consideration.



Regards,

Joe


#5

I too would like to add my support for open source drivers for SGX. There are thousands of developers in the BeagleBoard community and all are hampered by the lack of support for SGX for new processors. IMGTEC is the source of much ridicule on the BeagleBoard mailing list because of your lack of support for the open source community. Turning you back on the open source community means that you may miss the next mega product which will probably be dreamed up by someone from this very large community.


#6

I am also adding in my support for open source drivers for SGX. Many open source communities want to utilize hardware to its max potential. In GNU Radio for instance, we have an entire working group dedicated to coprocessors where we take different boards (wandboard, keystone2, beagleboard, jetson) in order to speed up digital signal processing functions to achieve things in software that would normally require very specialized hardware (turbo decoding, LTE, channel sounding, etc). If the driver were open, we would be able to use the sgx as an accelerator and further development of new ideas. With open source drivers, IMGTEC would reach out to new markets and because we are all vying for our own self interests, would get free development on the driver into those new markets. It’s a tough decision but the developers are already here using the boards wanting to utilize the hardware to its potential. With the trend to open source that major hardware companies are taking, they will be more willing to integrate open source graphics as opposed to a closed source ones. Just look at the new Sitara AM572x and how they integrated a Vivante GC320 2D GPU.


#7

All I can say is that I fully support what daviddever wrote. Probably the best example of importance of support of open-source software for embedded devices is Nvidia. After years of ignoring requests from community, only after releasing K1 they decided to start contributing to open-source Nouveau driver. It’s still not fully-featured driver, but it is important that they not only acknowledged the existence of the project, but started to officially support it by contributing code.

Another good example is Broadcom, who released full documentation for the graphics core of the GPU used in Raspberry Pi, along with complete source code of the graphics stack.

I really hope that Imgtec will follow the steps of the industry leaders and will change their stance towards open-source community.


#8
Hi David,

Thanks for the feedback. I have forwarded it to relevant parties within Imagination for their consideration.

Regards,
Joe


What is the state of this question concerning official documentation and official support from ImgTec for Open Source drivers ? In a near future or in a dream ?

#9

Our management team are reviewing our open source strategy to ensure it is in line with other IP suppliers. Unfortunately, we have nothing to announce at this time. Your feedback is important to us and we will send it to the relevant people involved in our open source activities.


#10

Is there some update about this topic?

I think if imgtec would realease some documentation or supply some source code, the linux community would like to help/develop an opensource driver!

I’m very interested in developing an open source driver for linux, but the current situation with the leaked code makes it impossible to develop something!

Right now an opensource Mali driver is under development (lima):
https://github.com/yuq/linux-lima/tree/lima-4.13/drivers/gpu/drm/lima
https://github.com/yuq/mesa-lima
This development will make it hard for imgtec to compete against arm.


#11

Top 5 Linux pain points in 2017

  1. Documentation

Documentation, or lack thereof, was one of the largest pain points this year. Although open source methodology produces superior code, the importance of producing quality documentation has only recently come to the forefront. As more non-technical users adopt Linux and open source software, the quality and quantity of documentation will become paramount. If you’ve wanted to contribute to an open source project but don’t feel you are technical enough to offer code, improving documentation is a great way to participate. Many projects even keep the documentation in their repository, so you can use your contribution to get acclimated to the version control workflow.

  1. Software/library version incompatibility

If you’ve wanted to contribute to an open source project but don’t feel you are technical enough to offer code, improving documentation is a great way to participate. I was surprised by this one, but software/library version incompatibility was mentioned frequently. The issue appears to be greatly exacerbated if you’re not running one of the mainstream popular distributions. I haven’t personally encountered this problem in many years, but the increasing adoption of solutions such as AppImage, Flatpak, and Snaps leads me to believe there may indeed be something to this one. I’m interested in hearing more about this issue; if you’ve faced it recently, tell me about it in the comments.
3. UEFI and secure boot

Although this issue continues to improve as more supported hardware is deployed, many users indicate that they still have issues with UEFI and/or secure boot. Using a distribution that fully supports UEFI/secure boot out of the box is the best solution here.

  1. Deprecation of 32-bit

Many users are lamenting the death of 32-bit support in their favorite distributions and software projects. Although you still have many options if 32-bit support is a must, fewer and fewer projects are likely to continue supporting a platform with decreasing market share and mind share. Luckily, we’re talking about open source, so you’ll likely have at least a couple options as long as someone cares about the platform.

  1. Deteriorating support and testing for X-forwarding

More Linux resources
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Download Now: Linux commands cheat sheet
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Although many longtime and power users of Linux regularly use X-forwarding and consider it critical functionality, as Linux becomes more mainstream it appears to be seeing less testing and support; especially from newer apps. With Wayland network transparency still evolving, the situation may get worse before it improves

https://mobotak.com/Categorygrid/id/1101


#12

I am also adding in my support for open source drivers for SGX. Many open source communities want to utilize hardware to its max potential. In GNU Radio for instance, we have an entire working group dedicated to coprocessors where we take different boards (wandboard, keystone2, beagleboard, jetson) in order to speed up digital signal processing functions to achieve things in software that would normally require very specialized hardware (turbo decoding, LTE, channel sounding, etc). If the driver were open, we would be able to use the sgx as an accelerator and further development of new ideas. With open source drivers, IMGTEC would reach out to new markets and because we are all vying for our own self interests, would get free development on the driver into those new markets. It’s a tough decision but the developers are already here using the boards wanting to utilize the hardware to its potential. With the trend to open source that major hardware companies are taking, they will be more willing to integrate open source graphics as opposed to a closed source ones. Just look at the new Sitara AM572x and how they integrated a Vivante GC320 2D GPU.


#13

Why is Linux So Great? Because It’s Open Source!

What can’t Linux do? Nowadays you hear Linux powering just about any device imaginable — all the way from dime-sized computers via the Raspberry Pi all the way to most of the top 100 supercomputers in the world. We interact with it daily, whether it be on our personal computers, Android devices, Steam boxes (gaming), flight entertainment systems, web servers that power behemoths such as Google, Facebook, and Wikipedia, or more.
Working with a secure operating system has become essential, and Linux fills that need well. Because it’s open source, anyone can look at the code and study it to determine whether there are any potential flaws that could pose security risks.

Companies that produce closed-source products usually approach security in two ways: security by obscurity and private security audits. While open source offers great security because many eyes have looked at the code, closed-source hides the flaws that others may find, making them unknown and thereby “more secure”. However, most people can agree that code that actually has fewer flaws in it, whether known or unknown, is the best solution.
Thanks for your good Articles.
https://mobotak.com/Categorygrid/id/697/موبایل


#14

I read your post about Linux open source. There are great information have been shared by other users. I really appreciate for it, but one thing there is not any discussion about Windows open source. I am going to share some info about Windows open sources.
Detail:
[ol]{All files support to Windows 32 bit and 64 bit}[/ol]
[ol]{Only English language files are promoted on http://www.root4pc.com}[/ol]
[ol]{Officially release as open source of each file}[/ol]