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AMD posts job listing for Android driver developers: a sign of impending changes to fglrx?

Well, look at what we have got here. Apparently, AMD is starting to feel a little left out of the entire smartphone and tablet game, and has since taken steps to ensure that it does not lose out on too much of the rapidly shrinking pie while its rivals are busy churning out mobile-friendly products. After all, that can be the only reason AMD is putting up job offerings for Android developers, no?

It is common knowledge to most people that situated at the heart of the Android operating system for tablets and smartphones is the Linux kernel.  And most people who are familiar with the implementations of open-source software and the Linux kernel know what it means when developers from all over the world make contributions or improvements to any operating system which utilizes the Linux kernel. SImply put, there is a chance that some of these contributions will eventually find their way back to the main kernel tree, where they will be merged with the upstream sources to provide a more complete 'out-of-the-box' solution for developers who which to utilize the kernel for various uses.

And apparently, it seems that the latest announcement from AMD is about to bring driver support in the Linux kernel to newer heights, especially where AMD-based GPUs are concerned. This is because the company has posted a job listing on its website in which it specifically calls for experienced Android and Linux developers to apply for the position of a Linux Driver Development Engineer.

According to the listing, the prospective engineer will be working with the Linux Base Graphics team, to deliver an updated video driver stack that can be used on the Android operating system while keeping "in line with the current development trends in the Android ecosystem". The posting also goes on to say that the applicant will need to be proficient in various programming languages such as C/C++, although it was the requirement about needing at least three years in kernel-mode driver development which caught our eye, and for good reason.

Most Linux users with AMD graphics cards will be fully aware that there exists two drivers for use with their hardware: the open-source radeon (or radeonhd) and AMD's proprietary fglrx. While it is widely known that the open-source radeon driver is completely left behind in the dust when compared to the proprietary fglrx driver module provided by AMD in terms of supported hardware and performance, radeon also boasts a key advantage that fglrx has failed to match for years: the ability to run in kernel-mode (aka KMS). And since AMD has already committed itself to fglrx, it is highly possible that the entire Linux Base Graphics team may be working to bring KMS capabilities to fglrx in order to make it more portable around various Linux-based OS. At the least, this will be more efficient than producing a completely new driver stack for what is essentially another distribution of Linux.

And because newer, more visually-appealing display managers such as the much-talked about Wayland mandate the use of KMS drivers, being able to make the entire fglrx driver stack kernel-mode compatible will not only make the driver more portable, but more futureproof as well. In the unlikely event that desktop Linux distributions eventually decide to drop the X Window system in favor of something else like Wayland, a KMS-capable fglrx driver stack will allow users to transition from one display manager to another with minimal hiccup to their productivity.

Of course, this is nothing more than just speculation on the outcome of fglrx now that AMD has decided to evolve its driver stack in order to allow the company to get into the whole Android game, and  it could be possible that we are just reading too much into the job requirements. Well, one can only wait and see.

Source: AMD

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