PCI graphics cards

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This article tries to give an overview about the issues and state of using PCI graphics cards under Linux/MIPS. However it should be noted that the issues are common for non-x86 systems.

Cards supported by the Linux framebuffer driver

Some MIPS graphics cards can be initialized by the linux framebuffer drivers directly, and might work on Linux/MIPS. This is an incomplete list:

  • Matrox cards (eg. Millenium I/II)
  • 3dfx Voodoo and Voodoo2
  • some ATI Mach64 (eg. Rage XL)
  • some old S3
  • some ancient framebuffer cards (eg. TGA, P9000)

Matrox Millenium I, Voodoo2 and ATI Rage XL cards are reported to have worked for other Linux ports, so chances are they will work on MIPS as well. Some flavors of Matrox cards have reportedly successfully been used on MIPS systems as well. Running the fbdev X-server from X.org will give you unaccelerated X11 desktop.

X servers

The X.org X-server has the ability to initialize certain cards through it's builtin but rather limited x86 emulator. This emulator is able to execute the BIOS initialization code on some card's ROMs. At this time there are no reports on success or failure with this method even though it already exists for quite a while.

AGP support

AGP is a variant of the original PCI bus that was optimized for high bandwidth but has other limitations which in practice limit it to graphics-only. Several MIPS systems support Hypertransport and thus a HyperTransport-to-AGP bridge could be used to implement support for AGP graphics easily but no such system is known currently.

PCI-X cards

Several MIPS systems including high-performance evaluation boards have PCI-X slots. Yet again there are no success or failure reports.

Proprietary graphics subsystems

The MIPS architecture with it's long heritage in the world of high-end workstations and visualization systems have a lare variety of proprietary graphics subsystems not based on so-called industry standards such as ISA, EISA, PCI and it's derivates. Pleasee see the pages for the indiviual systems for more information on their status. This page is meant to focus on graphics on PCI cards and related busses.