On-going Bootlin contributions to the Video4Linux subsystem: camera, camera sensors, video encoding

Over the past years, we have been more and more involved in projects that have significant multimedia requirements. As part of this trend, 2020 has lead us to work on a number of contributions to the Video4Linux subsystem of the Linux kernel, with new drivers for camera interfaces, camera sensors, video decoders, and even HW-accelerated video encoding. In this blog post, we propose to summarize our contributions and their status on the following topics:

  • Rockchip PX30, RK1808, RK3128 and RK3288 camera interface driver
  • Allwinner A31, V3s/V3/S3 and A83T MIPI CSI-2 support for the camera interface driver
  • Omnivision OV8865 camera sensor driver
  • Omnivision OV5648 camera sensor driver
  • TW9900 PAL/NTSC video decoder driver
  • Rockchip HW-accelerated H264 video encoding

Rockchip camera interface

Rockchip camera interfaceThe Rockchip ARM processors are known to have very good support in the upstream Linux kernel. However, one area where the support was lacking is in the support of the camera interface used by those SoCs. And it turns out that Bootlin engineer Maxime Chevallier has worked precisely on this topic throughout 2020: the development and upstreaming of the rkvip driver, a Video4Linux driver for the Rockchip camera interface. While the work was done and tested on a Rockchip PX30 platform, the same camera interface is used on RK1808, RK3128 and RK3288.

Several iterations of the driver have been posted on the linux-media mailing list, with the latest iteration, version 5, posted on December 29, 2020:

Maxime Chevallier (3):
  media: dt-bindings: media: Document Rockchip VIP bindings
  media: rockchip: Introduce driver for Rockhip's camera interface
  arm64: dts: rockchip: Add the camera interface description of the PX30

 .../bindings/media/rockchip-vip.yaml          |  101 ++
 arch/arm64/boot/dts/rockchip/px30.dtsi        |   12 +
 drivers/media/platform/Kconfig                |   15 +
 drivers/media/platform/Makefile               |    1 +
 drivers/media/platform/rockchip/vip/Makefile  |    3 +
 drivers/media/platform/rockchip/vip/capture.c | 1146 +++++++++++++++++
 drivers/media/platform/rockchip/vip/dev.c     |  331 +++++
 drivers/media/platform/rockchip/vip/dev.h     |  203 +++
 drivers/media/platform/rockchip/vip/regs.h    |  260 ++++
 9 files changed, 2072 insertions(+)
 create mode 100644 Documentation/devicetree/bindings/media/rockchip-vip.yaml
 create mode 100644 drivers/media/platform/rockchip/vip/Makefile
 create mode 100644 drivers/media/platform/rockchip/vip/capture.c
 create mode 100644 drivers/media/platform/rockchip/vip/dev.c
 create mode 100644 drivers/media/platform/rockchip/vip/dev.h
 create mode 100644 drivers/media/platform/rockchip/vip/regs.h

We’re hoping to get this driver merged soon, as we have now addressed the feedback that was received through the 5 iterations the patch series as gone through. It should be noted that for now it only supports the parallel BT656 interface as this is what we needed for our current project, we are definitely able to extend it to support MIPI CSI2 as well if you’re interested!

It should be noted that as a result of this work, Maxime Chevallier also prepared and delivered a talk From a video sensor to your display which was given at the Embedded Linux Conference Europe 2020. See the slides and video.

Allwinner MIPI CSI2 camera interface

Allwinner MIPI CSI2As part of an internship in 2020 and then a customer project, Bootlin intern Kévin L’Hôpital and Bootlin engineer Paul Kocialkowski worked on extending the Allwinnera camera interface support with support for MIPI CSI2 cameras. In fact, this addition was done to two Allwinner camera interface drivers: the sun6i driver which is used on Allwinner A31 and V3s/V3/S3, and the sun8i-a83t, which is used on the Allwinner A83T.

Through a fairly long 15 patches patch series, support for MIPI CSI2 is added to both camera interface controllers. We have tested both with Omnivision sensors, which are described below.

The series is currently in its third iteration, which was posted by Paul Kocialkowski on December 11, 2020 on the linux-media mailing list:


Paul Kocialkowski (15):
  docs: phy: Add a part about PHY mode and submode
  phy: Distinguish between Rx and Tx for MIPI D-PHY with submodes
  phy: allwinner: phy-sun6i-mipi-dphy: Support D-PHY Rx mode for MIPI
    CSI-2
  media: sun6i-csi: Use common V4L2 format info for storage bpp
  media: sun6i-csi: Only configure the interface data width for parallel
  dt-bindings: media: sun6i-a31-csi: Add MIPI CSI-2 input port
  media: sun6i-csi: Add support for MIPI CSI-2 bridge input
  dt-bindings: media: Add A31 MIPI CSI-2 bindings documentation
  media: sunxi: Add support for the A31 MIPI CSI-2 controller
  ARM: dts: sun8i: v3s: Add nodes for MIPI CSI-2 support
  MAINTAINERS: Add entry for the Allwinner A31 MIPI CSI-2 bridge
  dt-bindings: media: Add A83T MIPI CSI-2 bindings documentation
  media: sunxi: Add support for the A83T MIPI CSI-2 controller
  ARM: dts: sun8i: a83t: Add MIPI CSI-2 controller node
  MAINTAINERS: Add entry for the Allwinner A83T MIPI CSI-2 bridge

 .../media/allwinner,sun6i-a31-csi.yaml        |  88 ++-
 .../media/allwinner,sun6i-a31-mipi-csi2.yaml  | 149 ++++
 .../media/allwinner,sun8i-a83t-mipi-csi2.yaml | 147 ++++
 Documentation/driver-api/phy/phy.rst          |  18 +
 MAINTAINERS                                   |  16 +
 arch/arm/boot/dts/sun8i-a83t-bananapi-m3.dts  |   2 +-
 arch/arm/boot/dts/sun8i-a83t.dtsi             |  26 +
 arch/arm/boot/dts/sun8i-v3s.dtsi              |  67 ++
 drivers/media/platform/sunxi/Kconfig          |   2 +
 drivers/media/platform/sunxi/Makefile         |   2 +
 .../platform/sunxi/sun6i-csi/sun6i_csi.c      | 165 +++--
 .../platform/sunxi/sun6i-csi/sun6i_csi.h      |  58 +-
 .../platform/sunxi/sun6i-csi/sun6i_video.c    |  53 +-
 .../platform/sunxi/sun6i-csi/sun6i_video.h    |   7 +-
 .../platform/sunxi/sun6i-mipi-csi2/Kconfig    |  12 +
 .../platform/sunxi/sun6i-mipi-csi2/Makefile   |   4 +
 .../sunxi/sun6i-mipi-csi2/sun6i_mipi_csi2.c   | 590 ++++++++++++++++
 .../sunxi/sun6i-mipi-csi2/sun6i_mipi_csi2.h   | 117 ++++
 .../sunxi/sun8i-a83t-mipi-csi2/Kconfig        |  11 +
 .../sunxi/sun8i-a83t-mipi-csi2/Makefile       |   4 +
 .../sun8i-a83t-mipi-csi2/sun8i_a83t_dphy.c    |  92 +++
 .../sun8i-a83t-mipi-csi2/sun8i_a83t_dphy.h    |  39 ++
 .../sun8i_a83t_mipi_csi2.c                    | 657 ++++++++++++++++++
 .../sun8i_a83t_mipi_csi2.h                    | 197 ++++++
 drivers/phy/allwinner/phy-sun6i-mipi-dphy.c   | 164 ++++-
 drivers/staging/media/rkisp1/rkisp1-isp.c     |   3 +-
 include/linux/phy/phy-mipi-dphy.h             |  13 +
 27 files changed, 2581 insertions(+), 122 deletions(-)
 create mode 100644 Documentation/devicetree/bindings/media/allwinner,sun6i-a31-mipi-csi2.yaml
 create mode 100644 Documentation/devicetree/bindings/media/allwinner,sun8i-a83t-mipi-csi2.yaml
 create mode 100644 drivers/media/platform/sunxi/sun6i-mipi-csi2/Kconfig
 create mode 100644 drivers/media/platform/sunxi/sun6i-mipi-csi2/Makefile
 create mode 100644 drivers/media/platform/sunxi/sun6i-mipi-csi2/sun6i_mipi_csi2.c
 create mode 100644 drivers/media/platform/sunxi/sun6i-mipi-csi2/sun6i_mipi_csi2.h
 create mode 100644 drivers/media/platform/sunxi/sun8i-a83t-mipi-csi2/Kconfig
 create mode 100644 drivers/media/platform/sunxi/sun8i-a83t-mipi-csi2/Makefile
 create mode 100644 drivers/media/platform/sunxi/sun8i-a83t-mipi-csi2/sun8i_a83t_dphy.c
 create mode 100644 drivers/media/platform/sunxi/sun8i-a83t-mipi-csi2/sun8i_a83t_dphy.h
 create mode 100644 drivers/media/platform/sunxi/sun8i-a83t-mipi-csi2/sun8i_a83t_mipi_csi2.c
 create mode 100644 drivers/media/platform/sunxi/sun8i-a83t-mipi-csi2/sun8i_a83t_mipi_csi2.h

Here as well, the patch series has gone through a number of iterations, with significant reshaping to take into account the comments and feedback of other kernel developers and maintainers, so we hope to be near the point where it can be merged.

Omnivision OV8865 camera sensor driver

OV8865 block diagramAs part of his internship at Bootlin in 2020, Kévin L’Hôpital implemented a driver for the OV8865 camera sensor, connected over MIPI CSI2 to an Allwinner A83T platform. This OV8865 was then taken by Bootlin engineer Paul Kocialkowski, who did additional rework and polishing.

We are currently at the 4th iteration of this driver, which has been posted on December 11, 2020, and it has now been accepted and submitted to the V4L maintainer in a pull request.


Kévin L'hôpital (1):
  ARM: dts: sun8i: a83t: bananapi-m3: Enable MIPI CSI-2 with OV8865

Paul Kocialkowski (2):
  dt-bindings: media: i2c: Add OV8865 bindings documentation
  media: i2c: Add support for the OV8865 image sensor

 .../bindings/media/i2c/ovti,ov8865.yaml       |  124 +
 arch/arm/boot/dts/sun8i-a83t-bananapi-m3.dts  |  102 +
 drivers/media/i2c/Kconfig                     |   13 +
 drivers/media/i2c/Makefile                    |    1 +
 drivers/media/i2c/ov8865.c                    | 2981 +++++++++++++++++
 5 files changed, 3221 insertions(+)
 create mode 100644 Documentation/devicetree/bindings/media/i2c/ovti,ov8865.yaml
 create mode 100644 drivers/media/i2c/ov8865.c

Omnivision OV5648 camera sensor driver

OV5648 block diagramIn addition to the work done by Bootlin intern Kévin L’Hôpital on OV8865 with Allwinner A83T, Paul Kocialkowski worked on OV5648 with Allwinner V3s, also connected over MIPI CSI2. This work results in a driver for the OV5648 camera sensor, which Paul has submitted to the linux-media mailing list.

This driver is now in is 5th iteration, posted on December 11, 2020, and it has now been accepted and submitted to the V4L maintainer in a pull request.


Paul Kocialkowski (2):
  dt-bindings: media: i2c: Add OV5648 bindings documentation
  media: i2c: Add support for the OV5648 image sensor

 .../bindings/media/i2c/ovti,ov5648.yaml       |  115 +
 drivers/media/i2c/Kconfig                     |   13 +
 drivers/media/i2c/Makefile                    |    1 +
 drivers/media/i2c/ov5648.c                    | 2638 +++++++++++++++++
 4 files changed, 2767 insertions(+)
 create mode 100644 Documentation/devicetree/bindings/media/i2c/ovti,ov5648.yaml
 create mode 100644 drivers/media/i2c/ov5648.c

TW9900 PAL/NTSC video decoder driver

TW9900In addition to working on the Rockchip camera interface driver, Maxime Chevallier has also worked on a driver for the TW9900 PAL/NTSC video decoder. This chip from Renesas, takes as input an analog PAL or NTSC signal, digitizes it and outputs it on a parallel BT656 interface, which in our case was connected to a Rockchip PX30 platform.

Maxime posted the third iteration of the patch series adding this driver on December 22, 2020 on the linux-media mailing list.

Maxime Chevallier (3):
  dt-bindings: vendor-prefixes: Add techwell vendor prefix
  media: dt-bindings: media: i2c: Add bindings for TW9900
  media: i2c: Introduce a driver for the Techwell TW9900 decoder

 .../devicetree/bindings/media/i2c/tw9900.yaml |  60 ++
 .../devicetree/bindings/vendor-prefixes.yaml  |   2 +
 MAINTAINERS                                   |   6 +
 drivers/media/i2c/Kconfig                     |  11 +
 drivers/media/i2c/Makefile                    |   1 +
 drivers/media/i2c/tw9900.c                    | 617 ++++++++++++++++++
 6 files changed, 697 insertions(+)
 create mode 100644 Documentation/devicetree/bindings/media/i2c/tw9900.yaml
 create mode 100644 drivers/media/i2c/tw9900.c

Rockchip HW-accelerated H264 video encoding

In 2018 and thanks to success of the crowd-funding campaign we ran back then, Bootlin engineer Paul Kocialkowski pioneered support for stateless video decoders in the Linux kernel, with a first driver supporting MPEG2, H264 and H265 HW-accelerated video decoding on Allwinner platforms.

Rockchip video encoderIn 2020, Paul was tasked to work on HW-accelerated H264 video encoding for Rockchip platforms, which also use a stateless video encoder. Of course, Paul took the same approach of going towards an upstream-acceptable solution rather than relying on out-of-tree and vendor-specific solutions provided by Rockchip.

Paul has been able to implement a working solution for one of our customers, and while the result is not yet in a shape where it can be submitted upstream, Paul has presented its result at the Embedded Linux Conference Europe 2020: the slides and video. The kernel code is available at https://github.com/bootlin/linux/tree/hantro/h264-encoding while the user-space code is available at https://github.com/bootlin/v4l2-hantro-h264-encoder.

As explained in Paul’s talk, this is not fully ready for upstream, as lots of discussions are needed on the user-space APIs, especially around the topic of rate control.

If you are interested in having this work fully available in the upstream Linux kernel, please contact us. We are looking for additional funding and support to push this completely upstream.

Conclusion

As can be seen from the numerous topics covered in this blog post, Bootlin has significant experience with the Video4Linux subsystem, and is able to both implement support for new hardware, extend the Video4Linux subsystem if needed, and contribute drivers and changes to the official Linux kernel.

Wrapping up the Allwinner VPU crowdfunded Linux driver work

Back in early 2018, Bootlin started a crowd-funding campaign to fund the development of an upstream Linux kernel driver for the VPU found in Allwinner processors. Thanks to the support from over 400 contributors, companies and individuals, we have been able to bring support for hardware-accelerated video decoding in the mainline Linux kernel for Allwinner platforms.

From April 2018 to end of 2019, Paul Kocialkowski and Maxime Ripard at Bootlin worked hard on developing the driver and getting it accepted upstream, as well as developing the corresponding user-space components. We regularly published the progress of our work on this blog.

As of the end of 2019, we can say that all the goals defined in the Kickstarter have been completed:

  • We have an upstream Linux kernel for the Allwinner VPU, in drivers/staging/media/sunxi/cedrus, which supports MPEG2 decoding (since Linux 4.19), H264 decoding (since Linux 5.2) and H265 decoding (will be in the upcoming Linux 5.5)
  • We have a user-space VA-API implementation called libva-v4l2-request, and which allows to use any Linux kernel video codec based on the request API.
  • We have enabled the Linux kernel driver on all platforms we listed in our Kickstarter campaign: A13/A10S/A20/A33/H3 (since Linux 4.19), A64/H5 (since Linux 4.20), A10 (since Linux 5.0) and H6 (since Linux 5.1, contributed by Jernej Skrabec)

This means that the effort that was funded by the Kickstarter campaign is now over, and from now on, we are operating in maintenance mode regarding the cedrus driver: we are currently not actively working on developing new features for the driver anymore.

The Cedrus Linux driver in action

Of course, there are plenty of additional features that can be added to the driver: support for H264 encoding, support for high-profile H264 decoding, support for other video codecs. Bootlin is obviously available to develop those additional features for customers, do not hesitate to contact us if you are interested.

Overall, we found this experience of funding upstream Linux kernel development through crowd-funding very interesting and we’re happy to have been successful at delivering what was promised in our campaign. Looking at the bigger picture, the Linux userspace API for video decoding with stateless hardware codecs in V4L2 has been maturing for a while and is getting closer and closer to being finalized and declared a stable kernel API: this project has been key in the introduction of this API, as cedrus was the first driver merged to require and use it. Additional drivers are appearing for other stateless decoding engines, such as the Hantro G1 (found in Rockchip, i.MX and Microchip platforms) or the rkvdec engine. We are of course also interested in working on support for these VPUs, as we have gained significant familiarity with all things related to hardware video decoding during the cedrus adventure.

Allwinner VPU support in mainline Linux end of the year status update

The end of 2018 is approaching, which is the right time to provide an update on where we stand with the Allwinner VPU support in Linux. The promise of our Kickstarter campaign was to deliver all funded stretch goals by the end of 2018. As we’ll explain below, all the goals have been met, and only the upstreaming process is not completely finished for some features.

With the Linux 4.20 release happening just a few days ago, the core of the Cedrus driver and the media Requests API that supports it are finally available through Linus Torvalds’ tree! They provide the required interface for hardware-accelerated MPEG-2 decoding on the A13, A20, A33 and H3 Allwinner SoCs.

Cedrus driver in staging

Discussions regarding the details of the stateless video decoding interface offered by the V4L2 API are still taking place, which explains why our driver was integrated as a staging media driver. It was also decided to hide the associated interface for MPEG-2 decoding from the public kernel headers for now. This way, the interface is not considered stable and can keep evolving as discussions are still taking place. Because the kernel has a policy of never breaking backward compatibility, these interfaces will hardly evolve once they are declared stable, so it is crucial to ensure they are ready when that happens. This is especially true given the level of complexity associated with video decoding and the various pitfalls paving that road.

Status of H264 and H265 decoding support

The code for H264 and H265 decoding is already developed and functional, has already been submitted for upstream inclusion but it hasn’t been merged yet. However, with the decoding interfaces considered unstable for now, it should become easier to bring-in H.264 and H.265 decoding support to mainline. Support for these two codecs in the API and our driver is still under review and we will continue sending new iterations for them, with the suggested changes and fixes as well as adaptations for the still-evolving decoding interface. More specifically, our series need to be updated to the latest proposal for identifying reference frames, which is now based on the timestamps of the buffers.

Platform support: H5, A64 and A10 on the horizon

Regarding the platforms supported by our driver, the patches for H5 and A64 support were accepted since our last update and they will make it to Linux 4.21! We are also looking to send out support for the A10, which was missing from our previous series (but shouldn’t cause any particular trouble).

DRM driver improvements

The adaptations for the DRM driver allowing to display the raw decoded frames from the VPU on older platforms were also finalized, with the first half of the series already queued for 4.21. Subsequent changes in the series are still waiting for more reviews as they affect common parts of the framework.

Conclusion

Overall, we are slowly closing down on this project and hoping to get the remaining pieces of our work integrated in mainline Linux as soon as possible, as there seems to be very few obstacles left in the way.

Allwinner VPU support in mainline Linux November status update

Since our previous update back in September, we continued the work to reach the goals set by our crowdfunding campaign and made a number of steps forward. First, we are happy to announce that the core of the Cedrus driver was approved by the linux-media maintainers! It followed the final version of the media request API (the required piece of media framework plumbing necessary for our driver).

Both the API and our driver were merged in time for Linux 4.20, that is currently at the release candidate stage and will be released in a few weeks. The core of the Cedrus driver that is now in Linus’ tree supports hardware-accelerated video decoding for the MPEG-2 codec. We have even already seen contributions from the community, including minor fixes and improvements!

We have also been following-up on the other features covered by our crowdfunding campaign and made good progress on bringing them forward:

  • The series bringing H.264 decoding to our driver was updated for a second revision on November 15, rebased atop the upcoming Linux release and including a number of fixes as well as documentation;
  • H.265 decoding support followed with a second version sent on November 23, based on the updated H.264 series and bringing various minor improvements over the first iteration;
  • The patch series for the display engine DRM driver that adds support for the tiled YUV format used by the VPU was also updated, significantly reworked and submitted again on November 23;
  • Finally, we submitted a patch series adding support for the A64 and H5 Allwinner SoCs in the Cedrus VPU driver on November 15.
A64 and H5 boards provided by our sponsors Olimex and Libretech, now supported in Cedrus

With these patch series well on their way, we are closer than ever to delivering the remaining goals of the crowdfunding campaign!

Allwinner VPU support in mainline Linux status update (week 37)

Even though the bulk of the development on the Allwinner VPU support is done, we are still working on completing the upstreaming of the kernel driver, and some progress has been made recently on this topic:

  • On September 10, core Video4Linux developer Hans Verkuil sent a pull request to Video4Linux maintainer Mauro Carvalho Chehab to get the Cedrus driver merged. This means we’re getting closer and closer to have the driver merged. Unfortunately, some last minute issues were found in the patch series, so this pull request wasn’t merged.
  • On September 13, Bootlin engineer Maxime Ripard sent a new iteration of the Cedrus driver, version 10, which addresses those issues.
  • In addition, as the Allwinner platform maintainer, Maxime Ripard has merged the patches adding the Device Tree description of the Allwinner VPU, which reduces the Cedrus patch series to just 5 patches. They are now in the branch sunxi/dt-for-4.20, which should be part of the upcoming 4.20 Linux release.
T-Shirt for Allwinner VPU campaign supporters
T-Shirt for Allwinner VPU campaign supporters

In addition to this progress on the Linux kernel driver upstreaming process, we also moved forward with delivering the perks to the companies and individuals who supported our campaign:

  • A CREDITS file has been added to the libva-v4l2-request base, thanking all our backers who pleged more than 16 EUR.
  • The T-Shirts for the backers who pledged more than 128 EUR have been sent to those in the EU. We are also working on sending the t-shirts to those outside the EU, but it takes a bit more time due to the need for customs declarations. Don’t hesitate to take a picture of you with the T-Shirt, and post it on Twitter with the hashtag #VPULinuxDriverSupporter.