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[Discuss] Intel CedarView GPU driver, can one make it work?

A week ago, I made the apparent mistake of buying an Intel Atom-based net-top
PC as my latest experiment in low-power media-center design.

This particular generation of Intel chips came out in Nov 2011, and includes a
much-faster CPU core along with a GPU called CedarView 3650.  I got the
high-end model D2700, which was end-of-lifed after only a few months due to
low yields (but there are still a few left at some stores, I found one on a
retail shelf).  The rest of the product line remains available.  What
attracted me was the promise of normal PC-like performance in a set-top box
enclosure burning 14 watts total.  (I'm now paying /serious/ cash for
electricity, 33 cents/kWH adds up fast on all my 24x7 hardware).

A week into it, I've long since concluded that the best thing to do is run
back to the store for a trade-in.  The *only* GPU vendor that matters in the
Linux world, 20 years into this whole graphics-card driver debacle, remains
NVIDIA.  So if you read no further into this posting, remember this next time
you're enticed by a snazzy new PC.  Your first question shall be: is the GPU
from NVIDIA?  No?  Fuhgeddaboutit.  AMI/AMD and Intel claim Linux support with
their proprietary drivers, but the catch is...well, you can read on into this
boring posting if you choose.

OK so I do the usual thing:  install my usual O/S distro (OpenSUSE 12.2
x86_64), invoke my puppet client run and see a nice MythTV welcome screen
after my usual 20 or 30 minutes of fiddling with slightly-broken Ruby scripts.
 TV comes up, refresh rate about 1 frame per second, CPU maxed out, no

Then I google through the rabbit hole and find a whole lot of people talking
about it, one YouTube video by some guy bragging about finally getting his
setup working, and not a whole of light amid all the heat of complaining about
pathetic Intel GPU device drivers.  (Said YouTuber didn't deign to provide
audio with his demo, nor any xorg.conf files or other information.)

Here's what I've been able to figure out:

1) The only code Intel has put out to date is a 1-Oct-2012 driver consisting
of kernel patches for 3.0 and 3.1 along with a binary proprietary Xorg driver (tied to Xorg version 1.11) which can be downloaded from*&lang=eng

2) The Intel driver is 32-bit only; you can Google high and low but not find
an answer to this simple question:  can I use a 32-bit Xorg driver on a 64-bit
distro installation?  After a couple of false starts, my answer is an emphatic
*NO*.  Don't waste your time; start with a 32-bit distro (which meant
uprooting my whole puppet config).

3) Intel's kernel patches were contributed to the Linux kernel upstream for
3.2 and later.  Googling won't answer this question:  can I run the
driver on a stock 3.4+ kernel, or do I need to downgrade to a 3.0/3.1 kernel
and do a build-from-source using the patches distributed in the 1-Oct kit?  I
can't yet answer this, since I have yet to repeat the YouTube-boasting demo.

4) It appears Ubuntu 12.04 may have a distro put together with a working
version of this driver.  That'll be my next Hail Mary before finally conceding
a loss to the gods of Linux after a week of obsessively claiming (to myself at
least) that I *will* wrestle this tech challenge to the ground, long since
having concluded that I'd wasted my money buying this Intel system.

5) OpenSUSE opted to skip an Xorg release, so there is no easy way to build a
stock system with Xorg version 1.11 (distro 12.1 included Xorg 1.10, and
distro 12.2 included Xorg 1.12; the one version of Intel's driver released
thus far requires Xorg 1.11 so -- rock, meet hard place).

May y'all find similar Linux challenges to fill your time during Christmas
week and during the coming year.  Though this one was vexing and not yet
successful, it kind of reminded me of what I was up to 20 years ago this
month:  downloading 0.98pl5 boot/root and recompiling all my favorite apps. 
The Christmas gift I chose for myself that year was a Zoom 14.4K modem.  That
modem cost about $10 more than the computer I just bought, not even taking
inflation into account.  Truth be told, I think the modem delivered more
satisfaction. ;-/


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