Developers have been porting Ubuntu and other operating systems to run on tablets and TV boxes with Rockchip RK3188 quad-core chips since mid-2013. The RK3188 chip is one of the fastest ARM Cortex-A9 processors around, and Ubuntu is surprisingly snappy on devices with the processor… but up until now there’s been no Linux support for hardware-accelerate graphics.

That means that while web browsers, office apps, and other basic software run well on a device like the MK802 IV LE, up until now it’s been tough to play 3D games or run some other apps using Linux on this type of device.

Now a group of developers have added initial support for hardware-accelerated graphics.

rk3188 hardware 3d

The RK3188 processor uses an ARM Mali 400 graphics processor, and there’s an unofficial open source driver for that technology.

Developer Omegamoon has posted a few pictures showing that it’s now working on devices with RK3188 chips, while developer Naoki FUKAIMI has gone a little further by posting instructions for building a working graphics driver for a Radxa Rock developer board with the RK3188 CPU.

Right now it takes a bit of technical know-how to get everything up and running. Hopefully in the future there will be easy-to-install builds of Ubuntu and other operating systems available for download, making it easier for novices to load a much more functional desktop operating system on a cheap Android TV device.

Update: That didn’t take long. Ian Morrison has created a version of Ubuntu 12.04 with working support for hardware-accelerated graphics on devices with RK3188 chips and Mali-400 graphics. You can find download links and instructinos at his Google+ page

At this point hardware-accelerated graphics should enable support for 3D graphics and games, but not necessarily for hardware-accelerated HD video playback. Fortunately the processor is fast enough to handle some HD video duties using the CPU alone.

Android TV sticks and TV boxes with the processor sell for around $40 to $100 at AliExpress.

via CNX Software

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8 replies on “Linux 3D graphics support for Rockchip RK3188 devices”

  1. Question. Isn’t this somewhat pointless if it only supports OpenGL ES 2.0? While I am no developer, my understanding is that ES is a subset of OpenGL and that most of these OpenGL games are not programmed for ES. Is this correct?

  2. Why would you need 2D acceleration? If you get a dual or quad core there should be plenty of headroom to do any kind of dramatic 2D shown on a desktop. The downfall of Linux is that it doesn’t do what more mainstream OS do and its taken for granted. Even with a $60 x86 board you can do HD video much of the time, even high bit-rate files, as long as format is supported for hardware acceleration. An SDD makes up for slowish number crunching by the CPU. The problem with much of the newer boards like the ODROID, Rada Rock and other boards connected to Tom is multimedia features taken for granted are not available with many Linux builds, meaning you would have to use Android or go with a x86 solution.

  3. I hope that VPU will be used to hw decode video (on Linux) pretty soon on RK, (Wandboard allready has a hack for using VPU to hw decode movies).
    All this quad core with 1/2 GB of RAM are useless if you can’t run Linux on them and play flawless 1080 movies.
    just my 2c….

  4. This is not the Open Source driver, lima. It’s using the closed binary blobs from ARM. So not much to see here.

  5. Has 2D and video acceleration worked well? I’m more concerned about that. That also uses the GPU. Browsers, office apps and other software have been making use of the GPU to accelerate both 2D and 3D stuff for some time now.

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