But whenever I write about one of these products, someone invariably points out that while they can technically run both Android and Linux, you only get hardware-accelerated graphics if you use Android.
Now a team of developers is working on an open source VPU driver that will enable support for hardware-accelerated video playback on devices with Allwinner processors. Some of the work is already done, but the folks at Bootlin want to raise about $22,000 through a crowdfunding campaign to help pay for additional development, with the goal of releasing a functional driver by June, 2018.
That initial goal would bring a driver that lets the mainline Linux kernel leverage Allwinner’s video processing unit (VPU) for hardware-accelerated decoding of MPEG2 and H.264 video without overtaxing the CPU.
At launch, the idea is to support a bunch of older processors, including the Allwinner A10, A13, A20, A33, R8, and R16.
But if the campaign has a few stretch goals that the team would hope to deliver by December if it raises extra money, including:
- Support Allwinner’s newer H3, H5, and A64 chips
- H.265 decoding support
- H.264 encoding support
Note that this is all about the VPU, and not the GPU (graphics processing unit), so don’t expect Bootlin’s “sunxi-cedrus” development to result in hardware-accelerated 3D graphics for gaming and other applications. We’re just talking about video here. But it’d still make those inexpensive single-board computers with Allwinner chips a bit more usable as Linux-based media centers or general-purpose Linux machines.