Interview: Zhenyu Wang, Intel Graphics Engineer

Zhenyu Wang joined Intel in 2004 after finishing his MS in computer science from Shanghai JiaoTong University. He first worked on Intel server platforms for Carrier Grade Linux projects like memory ECC detection and Linux iSCSI driver, and now he focuses on Intel graphics driver projects for the Linux desktop.

Dawn: What do you like about working in Intel's Open Source Technology Center (OTC)?

Zhenyu: I like to work in OTC because we're working on open source software, which I've been in touch with mostly on Linux for more than ten years. To be able to work on it as a job was my dream. I like to work with many talented open source enthusiasts here, not only because it extends my interests for open source, but also we all have a clear goal to make sure Linux runs great on Intel platforms. Seeing the whole group make persistent progress feels great, and Intel's Open Source Technology Center gives me great chance to help achieve that goal.

Dawn: Can you tell us more about your work on KMS (Kernel Mode Setting) and why KMS is important to Intel?

Zhenyu: KMS is one important part of our effort of rebuilding the Intel Linux graphics stack. Before KMS, the video mode setting for display hardware was in chaos. Each component handles it in its own way, and it was scattered in different places with different levels like within X server, kernel framebuffer driver, etc. without coordination. KMS's job is to provide a single entry for low-level display hardware to all upper graphics components. Not only does it remove hardware access conflicts, but it also provides an interface to allow flexible user configuration for various display outputs, which is an important requirement for the Linux desktop. The Linux kernel will have full control of the display output, which brings a nice user experience and new features, e.g. the user will immediately get native display mode output when the kernel boots and enters the desktop environment, flicker free virtual console switch, monitor hotplugging and auto-config, kernel debug facility to dump message in graphics mode, etc.

Intel's graphics driver is the first one to enable KMS in Linux, and we have enabled KMS on all Intel IGP devices. My work last year was mostly on Clarkdale/Arrandale CPU enabling with Ironlake graphics core, which has Intel's new display pipeline design. KMS becomes a must-have requirement for future Intel graphics devices, as it's a base for the new Intel Linux graphics stack. KMS was quickly shipped by Moblin, Fedora and Ubuntu to improve their user experience, and the feedback has been really good. New efforts, like KMS based graphical startup projects, would also bring more shiny features to the Linux desktop.

Dawn: What other Linux graphics projects are you working on?

Zhenyu: Besides KMS, I've also been working on Intel's AGP driver for graphics memory management, Intel's Xorg driver to enable GPU accelerated 2D rendering and GPU texture based video playback acceleration.

Dawn: What do you do for fun when you aren't working at Intel?

Zhenyu: I like to collect books, enjoy reading, and am mostly interested in collecting stuff on Shanghai city history in the 20th century and local folklore. I also enjoy Shanghai Linux user group parties with free talks on open source and gadget programming on Linux where I can always learn about new goodies in the open source world.
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