LLVMpipe Gallium3D Sees A Bit Of New Activity
Written by Michael Larabel in Mesa on 19 January 2013 at 01:06 PM EST. 2 Comments
A bit of new code was committed this week for Gallium3D's LLVMpipe software driver that attempts to provide modest OpenGL performance as a software fallback by taking advantage of LLVM to exploit multiple CPU cores and the latest instruction set extensions on modern processors. Unfortunately, the rate of advancement for LLVMpipe still isn't too fast.

As can be seen when looking at the Mesa LLVMpipe changes through the Git web front-end, hitting mainline Mesa yesterday was enabling integer texture support, fixes for integer color buffers, and some trivial code clean-ups. Going back further, there's been some more fixes, Automake support for LLVMpipe, and some other minor work, but unfortunately nothing too exciting.

Usage of Gallium3D's LLVMpipe driver continues to increase as a fallback solution for the Linux desktop in cases where no supported OpenGL driver or graphics card is available. Canonical is using LLVMpipe for powering the Unity desktop when no 3D hardware driver is available and other distributions are moving this way too for the GNOME Shell.

LLVMpipe is becoming a critical piece of the Linux desktop, but unfortunately it's not advancing at a rapid pace. There's still some functionality and OpenGL features provided by the "Softpipe" Gallium3D driver not found in LLVMpipe, the performance isn't the best, and LLVMpipe is a real mess on ARM hardware. Other issues with the current situation are outlined in not all Linux users want to toke on LLVMpipe.

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Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 10,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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