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Valve & Intel Work On Open-Source GPU Drivers

Valve

Published on 20 July 2012 04:32 AM EDT
Written by Michael Larabel in Valve
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As the latest Valve Linux news for today, Valve Software actually cares about open-source Linux graphics drivers. Last week they had the Intel OTC Linux graphics team out to Bellevue to jointly work on the OpenGL renderer for the Source Engine and the Intel Mesa driver.

Ian Romanick of Intel's Open-Source Technology Center blogged about The zombies cometh.... In there, Romanick shares that he and his team were in Bellevue working with Valve's Linux team on Left 4 Dead 2. Romanick's key points from the blog post:

- "It was the most successful work trip I've ever had. The guys at Valve were amazing to work with."

- Goals included "help them tune their game for our driver / hardware", find where the performance is lacking, and discover what OpenGL features they want/need.

- Some OpenGL Source Engine optimizations were found when it came to buffer vertex management and where some shader recompilation was triggered for all drivers/hardware.

- Intel Mesa developers found where their driver really needs to be sped up.

- Intel Linux engineers have access to the Left 4 Dead 2 source-code from Valve to help them in their optimization efforts.

- Patches to improve the Intel Mesa DRI driver for Left 4 Dead 2 have begun to land.

- "The funny thing is Valve guys say the same thing about drivers. There were a couple times where we felt like they were trying to convince us that open source drivers are a good idea. We had to remind them that they were preaching to the choir. :) Their problem with closed drivers (on all platforms) is that it's such a blackbox that they have to play guess-and-check games. There's no way for them to know how changing a particular setting will affect the performance. If performance gets worse, they have no way to know why. If they can see where time is going in the driver, they can make much more educated guesses."

- Valve has requested improvements to the GL_ARB_debug_output extension implementation for Mesa.

- They're working on a "smart vsync" implementation to get best performance while trying to avoid tearing.

That's about it for that was mentioned in the email.

It was back in May that Ian Romanick, Eric Anholt, and Kenneth Graunke approached me about getting in contact with Valve. The Intel Linux developers were interested with what was going on in the Linux gaming world, but the official Intel channels for getting in contact with Valve were too slow/uneventful. I got the Intel-Valve-Linux ball rolling and now for the liasoning I'm told I'll be be rewarded with a beer in Nuremberg at XDS2012 in September. :) Prost!

[Note to the Intel guys: Preferrably Gutmann as a nice beer from the area, otherwise most other beer from the region is good, sans Tucher.]

About The Author
Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the web-site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience and being the largest web-site devoted to Linux hardware reviews, particularly for products relevant to Linux gamers and enthusiasts but also commonly reviewing servers/workstations and embedded Linux devices. Michael has written more than 10,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics hardware drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated testing software. He can be followed via and or contacted via .
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