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MontaVista, Atheros contribute open-source SDIO stack

Dec 19, 2006 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 3 views

[Updated Dec. 20] — MontaVista and WLAN (wireless LAN) chipset maker Atheros have founded an open source project aimed at enabling Linux to more easily support a wide variety of SDIO peripherals, including WLAN cards, bluetooth radios, hard drives, modems, GPS receivers, DTV tuners, cameras, voice recorders, biometric fingerprint readers, and business card scanners.

The open source linux-SDIO project will be based on an SDIO stack developed by Codetelligence, and purchased by Atheros in 2005. The stack is architecture-independent, and today appears to include vendor-agnostic drivers for SDIO host and bus controllers, along with drivers for SD/MMC memory cards, Bluetooth radios, and Atheros WLAN chipsets.

MontaVista's David Singleton is heading up the linux-SDIO project. He said, “The code [Atheros] has open sourced is based on the open SDIO spec, and contains no proprietary code. They GPL'd the code this year, and asked us if we could help them with their growing Linux customer base. They want to make chips, not port their drivers continually forward and get them working on each new customer's platform.”

The linux-SDIO project will apparently endeavor to merge the Codetelligence/Atheros stack with the mainline kernel's existing linux-mmc subsystem. In a note welcoming community developers to the project, Singleton wrote, “When the core MMC code can support high bandwidth devices like wireless network cards, it will be very easy to add new devices to the MMC/SDIO code. When the mainstream MMC code supports SDIO devices, we will be able to use the MMC bus, platform, and controller drivers.”

Singleton told LinuxDevices, “Although we are releasing the Atheros stack for people to review and use as they see fit, our long term goal is to follow the community and just submit SDIO drivers to Pierre [Ossman, Linux's MMC subsystem maintainer], instead of duplicating the SDIO framework of host controller drivers and bus drivers. I've talked to Pierre about when the SDIO API will be available. As soon as it's available, I'll start moving our wireless network driver over to that API and submitting it to Pierre.”

For its part, MontaVista plans to commercially support the open-source linux-SDIO code in its forthcoming Mobilinux 5.0 operating system for phones and other mobile devices. That release will initially use the linux-SDIO code to support SD/MMC memory cards and WLAN cards, MontaVista said.

Mobilinux 5.0 will be based on a 2.6.18 kernel, and Singleton's SDIO tree already includes patches for that version, along with patches for 2.6.10, the kernel used in the company's currently shipping Mobilinux 4.1.

MontaVista says the linux-SDIO project will be hosted at Sourceforge, where community participation “should result in a more robust and complete solution with rapid problem resolution, and better overall design.” Previously, MontaVista partnered with EmbWise on SDIO support in Mobilinux 4.0.

According to MontaVista founder and CTO Jim Ready, “[the] MontaVista and Atheros SDIO stack is a key differentiator and compelling value add for mobile device vendors. We believe this will extend MontaVista Linux's lead as the defacto OS standard for mobile devices.”

Sam Endy, GM of mobile wireless at Atheros, stated, “Through our partnership with MontaVista, Atheros brings low power, high-performance Wi-Fi solutions to the Linux open source community, enabling the vast intellectual resources within this group to develop advanced wireless devices. By using the Linux platform, mobile phone and portable consumer device manufacturers can more easily develop a new class of Wi-Fi enabled handheld products.”


The open-source linux-SDIO stack will be available initially through a project site at SourceForge. The stack's acceptance into the mainline kernel appears to hinge on it being brought up to the “latest” community coding standards by MontaVista developers, working with the community.

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