Saturday, 28 May 2011

Mastering Memory

Linux Kernel has two different existing memory management solutions - one based on GEM and the other one for TTM. Both of them are utilized through DRM and designed to fulfil different DRM operations. Still besides these two existing solution especially the SoC world is full of different out of the Kernel tree memory allocators. During the past couple of months the Linaro people have been taken some initiative to fix this problem but how - well the idea is to introduce a new memory manager fitting the ARM needs.

The problem setting with DRM based and SoC solution have kind of a different approach. Where DRM based memory manager is designed to provide applications a synchronous access to the HW, the SoC problem setting in the discussions has been kind of a turned upside down. In SoC case the main point of the memory manager is about how the different HW IPs/device drivers interconnect and share data. Allowing applications to share data is kind of an second priority.

A good question in this case is that why not to stick with the existing Linux kernel memory manager and making the existing upstream project to work. Making DRM to support sharing of data between the device drivers and narrowing it down by making some of its more legacy parts optional. And even if not taking DRM as the base of the solution, why every SoC have ended up to developed their own solutions - UMP, PMEM, KGSL and now ION from Google. One problem and challenges with this setup is the API. The evolvement of the graphics chipset is so fast that freezing an API cannot be taken into account. So especially in the case of SoC vendors the controlling of the API is highle beneficial and definitely a desired way of doing things. Being able to control not only the drivers but also the API will allow SoC vendors to ensure that their solution will perform the best and won't break anything around it.

So it will be definitely interesting to see whether Linaro is able to pull out an common solution that everyone agrees to use. Also interesting to see wheter Google with its power is able to driver this towards a common soluton with their ION based solution. The questions is also does the SoC vendors eventually really want to have an common Memory Management solution.

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