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Intel 810/815 Framebuffer driver
Tony Daplas <>
March 17, 2002
First Released: July 2001
A. Introduction
This is a framebuffer driver for various Intel 810/815 compatible
graphics devices. These would include:
Intel 810
Intel 810E
Intel 810-DC100
Intel 815 Internal graphics only, 100Mhz FSB
Intel 815 Internal graphics only
Intel 815 Internal graphics and AGP
B. Features
- Choice of using Discrete Video Timings, VESA Generalized Timing
Formula, or a framebuffer specific database to set the video mode
- Supports a variable range of horizontal and vertical resolution, and
vertical refresh rates if the VESA Generalized Timing Formula is
- Supports color depths of 8, 16, 24 and 32 bits per pixel
- Supports pseudocolor, directcolor, or truecolor visuals
- Full and optimized hardware acceleration at 8, 16 and 24 bpp
- Robust video state save and restore
- MTRR support
- Utilizes user-entered monitor specifications to automatically
calculate required video mode parameters.
- Can concurrently run with xfree86 running with native i810 drivers
- Hardware Cursor Support
C. List of available options
a. "video=i810fb"
enables the i810 driver
Recommendation: required
b. "xres:<value>"
select horizontal resolution in pixels
Recommendation: user preference
(default = 640)
c. "yres:<value>"
select vertical resolution in scanlines. If Discrete Video Timings
is enabled, this will be ignored and computed as 3*xres/4.
Recommendation: user preference
(default = 480)
d. "vyres:<value>"
select virtual vertical resolution in scanlines. If (0) or none
is specified, this will be computed against maximum available memory.
Recommendation: do not set
(default = 480)
e. "vram:<value>"
select amount of system RAM in MB to allocate for the video memory
Recommendation: 1 - 4 MB.
(default = 4)
f. "bpp:<value>"
select desired pixel depth
Recommendation: 8
(default = 8)
g. "hsync1/hsync2:<value>"
select the minimum and maximum Horizontal Sync Frequency of the
monitor in KHz. If a using a fixed frequency monitor, hsync1 must
be equal to hsync2.
Recommendation: check monitor manual for correct values
default (29/30)
h. "vsync1/vsync2:<value>"
select the minimum and maximum Vertical Sync Frequency of the monitor
in Hz. You can also use this option to lock your monitor's refresh
Recommendation: check monitor manual for correct values
(default = 60/60)
IMPORTANT: If you need to clamp your timings, try to give some
leeway for computational errors (over/underflows). Example: if
using vsync1/vsync2 = 60/60, make sure hsync1/hsync2 has at least
a 1 unit difference, and vice versa.
i. "voffset:<value>"
select at what offset in MB of the logical memory to allocate the
framebuffer memory. The intent is to avoid the memory blocks
used by standard graphics applications (XFree86). The default
offset (16 MB for a 64MB aperture, 8 MB for a 32MB aperture) will
avoid XFree86's usage and allows up to 7MB/15MB of framebuffer
memory. Depending on your usage, adjust the value up or down,
(0 for maximum usage, 31/63 MB for the least amount). Note, an
arbitrary setting may conflict with XFree86.
Recommendation: do not set
(default = 8 or 16 MB)
j. "accel"
enable text acceleration. This can be enabled/reenabled anytime
by using 'fbset -accel true/false'.
Recommendation: enable
(default = not set)
k. "mtrr"
enable MTRR. This allows data transfers to the framebuffer memory
to occur in bursts which can significantly increase performance.
Not very helpful with the i810/i815 because of 'shared memory'.
Recommendation: do not set
(default = not set)
l. "extvga"
if specified, secondary/external VGA output will always be enabled.
Useful if the BIOS turns off the VGA port when no monitor is attached.
The external VGA monitor can then be attached without rebooting.
Recommendation: do not set
(default = not set)
m. "sync"
Forces the hardware engine to do a "sync" or wait for the hardware
to finish before starting another instruction. This will produce a
more stable setup, but will be slower.
Recommendation: do not set
(default = not set)
n. "dcolor"
Use directcolor visual instead of truecolor for pixel depths greater
than 8 bpp. Useful for color tuning, such as gamma control.
Recommendation: do not set
(default = not set)
D. Kernel booting
Separate each option/option-pair by commas (,) and the option from its value
with a colon (:) as in the following:
Sample Usage
In /etc/lilo.conf, add the line:
append="video=i810fb:vram:2,xres:1024,yres:768,bpp:8,hsync1:30,hsync2:55, \
This will initialize the framebuffer to 1024x768 at 8bpp. The framebuffer
will use 2 MB of System RAM. MTRR support will be enabled. The refresh rate
will be computed based on the hsync1/hsync2 and vsync1/vsync2 values.
You must include hsync1, hsync2, vsync1 and vsync2 to enable video modes
better than 640x480 at 60Hz.
E. Module options
The module parameters are essentially similar to the kernel
parameters. The main difference is that you need to include a Boolean value
(1 for TRUE, and 0 for FALSE) for those options which don't need a value.
Example, to enable MTRR, include "mtrr=1".
Sample Usage
Using the same setup as described above, load the module like this:
modprobe i810fb vram=2 xres=1024 bpp=8 hsync1=30 hsync2=55 vsync1=50 \
vsync2=85 accel=1 mtrr=1
Or just add the following to /etc/modprobe.conf
options i810fb vram=2 xres=1024 bpp=16 hsync1=30 hsync2=55 vsync1=50 \
vsync2=85 accel=1 mtrr=1
and just do a
modprobe i810fb
F. Setup
a. Do your usual method of configuring the kernel.
make menuconfig/xconfig/config
b. Under "Code Maturity Options", enable "Prompt for experimental/
incomplete code/drivers".
c. Enable agpgart support for the Intel 810/815 on-board graphics.
This is required. The option is under "Character Devices"
d. Under "Graphics Support", select "Intel 810/815" either statically
or as a module. Choose "use VESA GTF for video timings" if you
need to maximize the capability of your display. To be on the
safe side, you can leave this unselected.
e. If you want a framebuffer console, enable it under "Console
f. Compile your kernel.
g. Load the driver as described in section D and E.
h. If you are going to run XFree86 with its native drivers, the
standard XFree86 4.1.0 and 4.2.0 drivers should work as is.
However, there's a bug in the XFree86 i810 drivers. It attempts
to use XAA even when switched to the console. This will crash
your server. I have a fix at this site:
You can either use the patch, or just replace
with the one provided at the website.
i. Try the DirectFB ( + the i810 gfxdriver
patch to see the chipset in action (or inaction :-).
G. Acknowledgment:
1. Geert Uytterhoeven - his excellent howto and the virtual
framebuffer driver code made this possible.
2. Jeff Hartmann for his agpgart code.
3. The X developers. Insights were provided just by reading the
XFree86 source code.
4. Intel(c). For this value-oriented chipset driver and for
providing documentation.
5. Matt Sottek. His inputs and ideas helped in making some
optimizations possible.
H. Home Page:
A more complete, and probably updated information is provided at