[libre-riscv-dev] SiFIve to go with PowerVR

Luke Kenneth Casson Leighton lkcl at lkcl.net
Sun Apr 5 10:56:59 BST 2020

On Sun, Apr 5, 2020 at 3:53 AM Immanuel, Yehowshua U
<yimmanuel3 at gatech.edu> wrote:
> This isn’t exactly new news, but SiFive was/is working with PowerVR to create an entirely integrated SOC with a GPU, WiFi, etc…

that they picked PowerVR - when the entire industry HATES PowerVR with
a pathological and entirely justifiable vengeange - says it all,

"“There are a diminishing number of suppliers in the GPU space,"

cheeky f*****r.  he knew *damn well* that we were working on a GPU
based on RISC-V.

> But it won’t be Libre…

and it will be an unmitigated disaster as well.  see here (or roundabout that)

the PowerVR core is... "flexible".  it was designed by an Imperial
College professor over 20 years ago, as a parameterisable flexible
hardware-software solution.  great idea, except when it was
commercialised, the licensing was made insanely draconian, and
"support" tagged at a minimum of USD $150,000.

this combination made software releases absolute hell not only for the
internal developers, who had to remember what they'd "dialled" for any
one given customer, it meant that the drivers *would not work on
another customer's machine*, and, worse, those customers were forced
to pay MORE MONEY to get help to update drivers (you should be getting
a sinking feeling about where that goes).

got a driver for linux kernel 3.4 and you want to upgrade to 3.5?
tough s**t Texas Instruments / Intel / Rockchip: pay us money and
we'll help you, otherwise piss off.

not only that: the licensing was so draconian that, despite the
engineers having the source for android-3D they *were not permitted to
compile it for Xorg*

as if that wasn't enough, the "flexibility" mentioned above was so
great that Imagination's own engineers were unable to cope, and
systematically and regularly release crap that crashes entire machines
thanks to the poor software quality.

when i say that engineers the world over HATE PowerVR, i really mean
it.  one Intel Atom product from the 1990s had it (because the
proprietary non-end-user TV processors by Intel also had it), and it
was a serious and costly mistake that caused no end of user grief and
massive unreliability and the source of crashes that they *could not

it's not a coincidence that Apple, when Imagination's main patent
expired (on shader tiles), immediately abandoned it *the next day* and
announced their own GPU internal project.

> https://www.eetimes.com/imagination-gpu-now-on-sifive-risc-v-design-platform/
> Perhaps we should have a page with content like this, just to refer to…

good idea.  when i've calmed down a bit from the shock / alarm of
seeing SiFive not do their due diligence.


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