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Thursday, May 8, 2014

3D graphics support for Rockchip RK3188 devices on Linux

Developers have been porting Ubuntu and other operating systems to run on tablets and TV boxes with Rockchip RK3188 quad-core chips since mid-2013. The RK3188 chip is one of the fastest ARM Cortex-A9 processors around, and Ubuntu is surprisingly snappy on devices with the processor… but up until now there’s been no Linux support for hardware-accelerate graphics.
That means that while web browsers, office apps, and other basic software run well on a device like the MK802 IV LE, up until now it’s been tough to play 3D games or run some other apps using Linux on this type of device.

Now a group of developers have added initial support for hardware-accelerated graphics.

The RK3188 processor uses an ARM Mali 400 graphics processor, and there’s an unofficial open source driver for that technology.

Developer Omegamoon has posted a few pictures showing that it’s now working on devices with RK3188 chips, while developer Naoki FUKAIMI has gone a little further by posting instructions for building a working graphics driver for a Radxa Rock developer board with the RK3188 CPU.

Right now it takes a bit of technical know-how to get everything up and running. Hopefully in the future there will be easy-to-install builds of Ubuntu and other operating systems available for download, making it easier for novices to load a much more functional desktop operating system on a cheap Android TV device.
Update: That didn’t take long. Ian Morrison has created a version of Ubuntu 12.04 with working support for hardware-accelerated graphics on devices with RK3188 chips and Mali-400 graphics. You can find download links and instructinos at his Google+ page

At this point hardware-accelerated graphics should enable support for 3D graphics and games, but not necessarily for hardware-accelerated HD video playback. Fortunately the processor is fast enough to handle some HD video duties using the CPU alone.


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