GraphicsResearch » History » Revision 23

Revision 22 (dl lud, 01/23/2019 02:03 AM) → Revision 23/59 (dl lud, 01/23/2019 04:34 AM)

h1. Research on free graphics-related software 


 On this page, information is collected that could help solving graphics issues in Replicant (see #1539). Besides evaluating free implementations that are relevant for currently supported devices, other implementations should also be listed if they are useful for potential future target devices. 

 external resources: 
 "Debian Mobile": 

 h2. Multiple backends 

 See for work in progress to enable to switch the OpenGL library for individual applications. 

 h2. Software rendering 

 Software rendering uses the CPU and not a dedicated graphics processor for graphics rendering. It is slower than per-GPU implementations and is usually used when it is not possible to make use of the GPU. An advantage is that the same software renderer can work across many different types of hardware, so working on improving a software renderer benefits many different devices, regardless of the SOC and graphics unit that is used. Furthermore, a software renderer doesn't require a kernel driver which makes it easier to work on mainline Linux kernel support for a device until the graphics driver is in mainline. 

 h3. Android software renderer 

 source code: 

 The Android software renderer is currently used on all Replicant-supported devices and it is the fastest software renderer that is available for Replicant devices. It is a software renderer that was developed specifically for Android and it is part of the AOSP source code. The renderer includes optimizations for ARM. Development ceased in 2013 and no work was done to support newer GLES versions (which causes #705). 

 Until ca. 2011 (Android 4.0), another library with the name @libagl2@ existed and @surfaceflinger2@ was developed based on Mesa. The source code was later removed and no further development is known. At the time, the work was done to support a newer GLES version for the software renderer, but it was abandoned later. It is questionable if it is worth it to port the old @libagl2@ library to a recent Replicant version, also given that we would be the only ones using and maintaining the code. 

 h3. Mesa and llvmpipe 

 *Replicant llvmpipe support source code*: 
 *Replicant documentation*: [[Graphics]] 
 *Upstream documentation*: 
 *Upstream performance improvement documentation*: 

 For the needs in Replicant, llvmpipe has an EGL implementation that is complete enough. But some apps don't work due to minor bugs which seem fixable or which might already be fixed in more recent upstream versions. swrast is of no interest as it is slower than llvmpipe. 

 The "Android-x86    project": is using llvmpipe and quite a few of their Android-specific frameworks patches are applied in Replicant 6.0. Their Mesa source code fork is also used in Replicant 6.0. A lot of porting work of llvmpipe to Android was done by Jide while Intel is contributing as well. So there is an interest from different parties to have llvmpipe working on Android. Android patches are upstreamed to mainline Mesa. 

 However, llvmpipe is still not ported to ARM which makes it slow. Also for Android, it is mostly used on the x86 platform in other projects. See #705 for more information. Optimizing llvmpipe for ARM seems currently the most promising approach to fix graphics-related issues with Replicant. 

 h3. SwiftShader 

 source code: 

 "Google released SwiftShader as free software in mid 2016": It supports x86 (32 bit and 64 bit) and 32 bit ARM architectures with SDIV/UDIV support. It is used in the Chromium project but also with Android, for example in the Android-x86 project. Swiftshader doesn't seem to depend on any external libraries besides what are provided in its Git repository, therefore it is very easy to compile it and use it as a software renderer for Replicant. All the Android    build files are provided so you just need to the add the following packages to PRODUCT_PACKAGES in order to be able to use it: 

  * libGLESv2_swiftshader 
  * libEGL_swiftshader 


 h2. Per-GPU implementations 

 In the following, free software implementations are listed that should make it possible to use the respective GPU with free software. 


 h3. ARM Mali-4xx (Utgard) GPUs with Lima 

 Supported devices that use Mali 400: Galaxy S 2, Galaxy S 3, Galaxy S 3 4G, Galaxy Note, Galaxy Note 2 

 Project page: 

 Lima is still unfinished as of January 2019 but development is going on at a fast pace. The detailed implementation status can be checked "with the piglit test suite": 

 Lima saw first light with the reverse-engineering reverse engineering efforts by Luc Verhaegen, that produced an experimental driver with it's original page at . Luc's development stopped around 2014, but in 2017 Qiang Yu took on the task and started development on top of Mesa's Gallium3D driver as "reported by Phoronix":  
 The code is now hosted at "'s GitLab": and is getting contributions by many developers besides Qiang Yu. 


 h3. Imagination PowerVR 

 supported devices that use PowerVR SGX540: Nexus S, Galaxy S, Galaxy Nexus, Galaxy Tab 2 7.0, Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 
 supported devices that use PowerVR SGX530: GTA04 

 A reverse-engineering project exists: 
 "mailing list": 
 "Libreplanet group": 

 Despite initial reverse-engineering progress until 2013, no further development updates seem to be available. The project website provides documentation. 

 h3. ARM Mali-T6xx/T7xx/T8xx (Midgard) and G7x (Bifrost) with Panfrost 

 not used by a supported device 
 Used on several Samsung Galaxy S series phones that are now supported by LineageOs and may be potential targets for Replicant ports: S6 
 (Mali T760MP8), S7 (Mali-T880 MP12) and S9 (Mali-G72 MP18). 

 Project page: 
 Source code: 

 Panfrost is another reverse-engineered driver for ARM Mali GPUs, but aimed at the latest architectures (Midgard and Bifrost). It is still experimental but under active development with a strong community (as of January 2019). It's main focus are the ARM SoCs present on some laptops and single-board computers (SBC), but it is "Intended to work on as many SoCs as possible to make everyone's lives easier": 
 Panfrost is developed by Alyssa Rosenzweig and Lyude Paul, and recently attracted other contributors such as "Tomeu Vizoso": 
 Development can be followed on "Alyssas's blog": 

 h3. Qualcomm Adreno and freedreno 

 not used by a supported device 


 freedreno is actively developed. Linux kernel component is available in mainline since version 3.12. It needs to be investigated how well freedreno could work on potential target devices. However, even when using freedreno, non-free firmware is very likely still needed. 

 Generally speaking, Qualcomm devices have a lot of blobs and no modem isolation which is the reason why no Qualcomm-based device is yet supported by Replicant. See [[TargetsEvaluation]] for some analysis. We have not yet identified a Qualcomm-based device that would be a promising target for Replicant and where freedreno could be used on. 

 h3. Vivante GCxxxx and Etnaviv 

 not used by a supported device 

 For some Vivante GCxxxx GPU variants, a free driver, Etnaviv, exists. See "wikipedia": for some details. It would be interesting to investigate devices using such a GPU if they would be good Replicant targets. It also needs to be checked if non-free firmware needs to be loaded to the GPU.