If you’ve owned an inexpensive smartphone, tablet, set-top box, or other SoC (system on a chip) device this decade—particularly if it’s running Android—there is a good chance that it’s using an Allwinner SoC. Allwinner has garnered huge success in the SoC market by combining Arm Cortex processors and Mali GPUs (graphics processing units) into an affordable package. That popularity means there is a large demand for running Linux on Allwinner SoC-equipped devices.
While the official Linux kernel has had some support for Allwinner processors since 2012, the VPU hasn’t been supported. Now Bootlin, headed by the same engineer who added processor support, is seeking funding to develop support for the VPU. Unlike many of the Kickstarter campaigns we feature, backing this one won’t get you any hardware, but it is still important.
If the project is funded, Bootlin will develop that VPU support and keep it completely open source, so that it will be included in the official Linux kernel. That support will let you offload video encoding and decoding from the CPU to the VPU hardware. That would dramatically improve video performance on Allwinner-based devices, while simultaneously reducing CPU usage. Because you’re not receiving a hardware reward, you can help the community by contributing however much money you see fit until March 18th.