Genode Labs Newsletter - August / September 2021


 1. Conquering hardware-accelerated graphics
 2. Genode OS Framework 21.08 released

 1. Conquering hardware-accelerated graphics

 Hardware-accelerated graphics is arguably the most complex and - at
 the same time - least understood corner of operating systems. Even
 though we experimented with Intel GPUs off-and-on over the years,
 a clean architectural integration of GPU support into Genode's
 rigid component architecture seemed out of reach.

 This year however, we went all-in, making GPU support one of our
 core missions. Aspiring generality across different hardware, we
 followed two lines of work in tandem:

 One line of development was concerned with today's commodity Intel
 GPUs on PC platforms. It dealt with the challenges of covering all
 recent GPU generations with our custom low-complexity GPU
 multiplexer, and untangling the interplay between GPU and display
 hardware so that each of both functions can be operated with a
 dedicated sandboxed driver.

 The second line of development was the exploration of GPUs on ARM
 platforms, specifically the Vivante GPU as used by the NXP i.MX
 family. Here, we went for the approach of porting a driver from the
 Linux kernel instead of pursuing an implementation from scratch.
 So we could learn the time-tested established patterns of how GPUs
 are operated and integrated on Linux.

 Both developments eventually joined for the design of Genode's
 general GPU interface between applications and GPU driver, and
 for the application-side driver stack, based on Mesa.

 We are more than happy to report that this approach of conquering
 the GPU topic - wide and deep - was a resounding success. Using one
 unified interface, the upcoming version of Sculpt OS will unleash
 Intel GPUs on commodity PCs, and the Vivante GPU support is on
 track to become a regular feature of Genode on i.MX hardware.

 2. Genode OS Framework 21.08 released

 The GPU topic outlined above is one of the highlights of Genode
 version 21.08 released end of August. The second major topic is
 a re-imagined way of how to port device-driver code from the
 Linux kernel to Genode components. We condensed more than a
 decade of experience with porting drivers into new tooling and
 methodology that cuts the costs of bringing Genode to new
 hardware by almost an order of magnitude. It plays a key role
 in our ambition to use Genode on the Pinephone.

 The release is accompanied with many further improvements such
 as the modular integration of LTE connectivity in Sculpt OS,
 user-space network routing, and media playback on the Chromium-
 based web browser. Genode 21.08 is described in detail in the
 accompanied release documentation:


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 Best regards

 Dr.-Ing. Norman Feske
 Genode Labs

 https://www.genode-labs.com/ · https://genode.org/
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