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I don't think it's a big difference to be honest: The GPU firmware (start.elf) is required to boot the Pi. There is no source code available at the moment.

The GPU firmware runs in parallel to the CPU and has access to the complete memory. Video decoding is done by the GPU and happens while the CPU is completely idle. And it can (of course) crash. If you've done anything related to OMX programming on the Pi, you might have experienced that.

In theory there is nothing that would prevent the a rogue firmware from hooking into kernel structures to interface with the outside world.

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