Allwinner VPU support in mainline Linux status update (week 13)

While this week’s goal was set to supporting dmabuf in our Sunxi-Cedrus VAAPI implementation with GStreamer, progress was made on GStreamer support alone. The first milestone was displaying the video from videotestsrc, which produces a sample test output, to kmssink, which handles video output directly with DRM planes.

The Gstreamer pipeline for the test
The working result on display

This required specific adaptation for GStreamer to cope with the Allwinner DRM driver. More specifically, changes that allow the Allwinner DRM driver in kmspipe as well as devices that don’t sit on a PCI bus in gtreamer-vaapi were submitted. Patches to fix both these issues were sent for review earlier today and the first one was already accepted and merged. Thanks to Nicolas Dufresne for his help in the process!

On the VAAPI side, things are more complicated and a number of different areas of the sunxi-cedrus VAAPI backend had to be reworked. For instance, the slices constituting MPEG2 frames are not submitted in the same way by VLC and GStreamer. Buffers management is also done slightly differently between these two users of libVA. The net result is that a segmentation fault caused by a memory management mishaps is occurring with GStreamer and is still being investigated.

This week was also the occasion to dig into the partial reference code that Allwinner published in 2015 (to grasp a better understanding of the MPEG2 decoding process with the VPU) and start updating the register documentation on the linux-sunxi wiki, where some fields documented by the reference code were still marked as unknown. The Sunxi-Cedrus page was also updated to reflect the current status and effort. These resources will get updated as development happens. More precisely, we’d like to provide instructions to deploy this work, once it has reached a decent level of usability. Stay tuned for our next update!

Author: Paul Kocialkowski

Paul is a kernel and embedded Linux intern at Bootlin. You can find more details about Paul on his personal website:

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