Intel Driver Now Enables Floating-Point Textures
Written by Michael Larabel in Intel on 21 January 2013 at 01:42 PM EST. 6 Comments
Intel's Mesa DRI driver now is unconditionally enabling floating-point textures. Up to this point, the floating-point textures feature of GL3 hasn't been enabled by default due to patent worries.

Two years ago when floating-point support for Mesa came about and was merged in April of 2011. "Pushed to Mesa master over the night was Marek Olšák's patches for float textures in supporting the ARB_texture_float extension and render-buffers, which is part of the OpenGL 3.0 specification. Marek's work is fully supported in the ATI R300 Gallium3D driver while other drivers can now easily hook into this newly-added support that up until now was living in a branched version of Mesa."

The floating-point feature though for the hardware drivers was not enabled by default but rather concealed behind a --enable-texture-float build-time switch. Due to the legal worries, they punted the problem off to distributions and their packagers or end-users building from source to decide whether to enable this support.

Evidently, Intel is now comfortable with the legal situation concerning OpenGL floating-point textures at least when running on their hardware, so their open-source driver is now always enabling it. Per this commit today, we now have "i965: Enable floating-point textures always." Whenever Mesa 9.1+ is now built, floating-point textures will be present for the Intel DRI driver.

With this change, OpenGL 3.0 (or OpenGL 3.1 for the core context) is also now always exposed as without the floating-point support, the Intel driver has been limited to exposing OpenGL 2.1 compliance.

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Michael Larabel is the principal author of 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 automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via

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