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VideocoreIV Glamor on your Raspberry Pi

RaspberryPi Logo

Running an X (Xorg) server on your Raspberry Pi is frustrating. You can either use the fbdev or fbturbo driver which will give an un-accelerated 2D environment with swrast 3D (OpenGL) all beating your poor RPi’s CPU. Overclocking it will only help you so much which is a pity considering that there is another layer on the SoC that would be perfect for that but is now unused.

Enter the VideocoreIV (VC4) and Eric Anholt (formally of Intel, now of Broadcom), who are going to breath new life into the RPi. The idea is to offload the 2D rendering, via Glamor, to the VC4 with OpenGL calls. Since a OpenGL stack needs to exist, that means there will be a Direct Rendering Manager (DRM) Linux kernel module and Gallium/DRI module in Mesa.

This is happening now, here is the current status of support via the Piglit test-suite: skip 19102, fail 3866, pass 3146, crash 153, total 26267

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Worldsynth 0.10.0 released

Rivers

Worldsynth version 0.10.0 is released and can be found on github. This is our first “official” release in which the result should work, out of the box, with a usable and familiar GUI instead of the pygame environment. This is provided by Qt4 via PySide. We have even tested Worldsynth on Windows XP to validate that it is indeed cross platform.

As for 0.11.0, we are looking to unlock size of terrain to be of any variable width and height instead of the basic power of two. We are also investigating fluvial erosion.

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Skype on Ubuntu 11.10 (Oneiric Ocelot)

If you upgrade to Ubuntu 11.10 on a 64-bit platform and try to run skype then you will likely get this error:

skype: error while loading shared libraries: libXss.so.1: cannot open shared object file: No such file or directory

This is because libxss1 and a few other libraries have been removed from ia32-libs package.

You will need to enable multiarch and install the extra 32 bit libraries by hand:
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Infiniband on Ubuntu 10.10 Meerkat

My current project that involves hundreds of mini-ITX Atom machines and we are testing the performance difference between Infiniband and Intel Gigabit NICs.

In my testing the overhead of processing TCP is too high for a dual-core Atom. There is simply not enough processing power to handle the capabilities of the Intel NICs.

A possible solution is to replace TCP by using SDP (RDMA and Zerocopy) over Infiniband. Infiniband equipment has come down significantly in price (dual port 4xSDR card for around $50), which makes it attractive to high-performance and cost-sensitive applications like mine.

In theory we can get 4xSDR speeds (8 Gigabit/s), but the tested result is 1.5 Gigabit/s speeds because of TCP processing over Infiniband. This is almost exactly the performance we achieved using the Intel NICs. We then replaced TCP with SDP over Infiniband. With the switch we saw 4.2 Gigabits/s performance on one process. With two processes, one for each core of the Atom, we saw 7.8 Gigabit/s which is close to the theoretical limit of the Infiniband NIC.
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xorg 1.9 versus fglrx

With the release of Ubuntu (Meerkat) 10.10 just 10 days away, the ubuntu x-swat people have been busy getting fglrx ready for release. The fglrx now compiles against latest Meerkat kernel and finally resolves the unknown symbol issue.

In the laptop is a ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3670 and with the latest fglrx driver usability is awful. There is horrible tearing when using “Appearance -> Visual Effects -> Normal”, which had to be set back to “None” just to be usable. Even on “None”, scrolling down in documents, chrome, firefox and Skype all give blurred or stuttered graphics.

These are for me “do not use” releases.
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