ARM’s Mali GPUs, along with Qualcomm’s Adreno chips, are arguably the most popular graphics processors in embedded devices and smartphones. For more than one and a half years under the direction of the developer Qiang Yu with a new edition of the Lima driver project develops a free driver for the GPUs Mali-400 and Mali-450. This should now finally be incorporated into the main branch of the Linux kernel.
According to the developer, the necessary work to support various SoCs with Mali GPU has already been integrated into the Linux kernel. In addition, the kernel video driver itself is now reasonably stable, as well as the interface to the userspace components from the free graphics library Mesa. Therefore, the Lima driver can now also be maintained in the upstream kernel.
The mesa driver, according to the developers, is still in the development stage and is therefore not suitable for everyday use, but some important test applications such as Kmscube, Glmark2 or Kodi are already running on it. Some criticism of the proposed driver for inclusion comes from other leading Linux graphics driver developers, who question the choice of specific interfaces and suggest alternatives.
The Mali-400 was first released in 2008, the Mali-450 in 2012. With Lima, a Linux driver for it was developed by reverse engineering at an early stage, but then the main developer Luc Verhaegen stopped working on it after a few years. The current code is fundamentally different from the work Verhaegens, after all, but the previously collected hardware information is reused. Panfrost also introduces a new free kernel driver for more advanced Mali GPUs.
Submitted by: Arnfried Walbrecht