Intel Ironically Removes Cannon Lake Graphics Driver That Wasn't Needed Anyway

Intel GPU
(Image credit: Intel)

And according to the list of changes to the Linux kernel, Intel is ironically removing support for its Cannon Lake graphics driver in the upcoming Linux kernel version 5.15. These chips were famously shipped without the integrated graphics engine active, meaning the graphics drivers weren't even needed. Interestingly, the chips did have an integrated Gen 10 graphics engine, but Intel disabled the graphics in a sure sign that there were yield problems with its 10nm process that it wasn't being entirely forthcoming about. In fact, Intel also limited the notebook-bound Cannon Lake chips to the China region to keep them away from Western audiences, though the chips later landed in NUCs that were available globally. What followed was a long string of further 10nm delays that gave its competitor AMD a massive advantage, and Intel still hasn't fully recovered from the impact. 

Perhaps the biggest news, besides the enablement code for DG2, is the removal of support for Intel Cannon Lake graphics. The i915 GFX driver will no longer support Cannon Lake graphics in the upcoming Linux kernel version 5.15. This means that Intel considers Cannon Lake's graphics driver as a bloated addition to the i915 GFX driver, and hence, it is removing it. The driver didn't matter anyway — the graphics engine never worked. 

In the latest PR for Linux kernel version 5.15, submitted by Intel's development team, we also see quite a comprehensive list of changes that the company is submitting. As there are a lot of efforts taking place, it seems that the majority of work has been happening on the graphic front of the driver stack.

In the list, we can see that there are also fixes for DG1 GPUs like refactor of a DG1 interrupt handler, fix for DG1 memory bandwidth computation, and more. Alongside the DG1 code, we are seeing an increasing amount of enablement code for the upcoming DG2 lineup of the graphics cards. This is usually a good indicator that the launch is happing soon, as Linux is amongst the first software packages to get supported by the new architecture.

Update 8/13/21 5:40am PT: Clarified that only the laptop-bound Cannon Lake processors were confined to China. 

  • Brian28
    Seems like 3 years is awfully short for supporting a graphic driver.
  • Flemkopf
    Brian28 said:
    Seems like 3 years is awfully short for supporting a graphic driver.

    It is, but since the hardware never worked it's a moot point. Taking it out of the Linux kernel and reducing their code base by a bit is a good move.