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Research Underway With QEMU 3D Support

Mesa

Published on 20 June 2013 07:15 PM EDT
Written by Michael Larabel in Mesa
3 Comments

There's long been a need for QEMU/KVM to have guest 3D support for virtual machines (especially with more of the modern Linux desktops requiring OpenGL support) and Red Hat engineers have talked about such support previously, but now it looks like code is finally materializing.

Since last year and beyond has been talk of eventually having a Gallium3D driver for Red Hat's SPICE protocol for use with QEMU/KVM. Such a driver -- similar to that of what's available in VirtualBox and VMware -- hasn't come, but QEMU has gained VGA pass-through support (similar to Xen) so that a dedicated GPU could be assigned to a guest, but it's still not an easy setup and the support is a work-in-progress.

Finally with the Linux 3.10 kernel there is now a QXL KMS driver to provide a basic DRM kernel driver for QEMU. There's also been talk about a QXL Gallium3D wrapper, but no code had surfaced.

Now in the discussion about Oracle wanting a Mesa driver for VirtualBox, David Airlie has publicly talked about some new Mesa code he's working on. To get straight to the point, here's the relevant part of his mailing list response:
I have written some code to do something similiar [to Oracle's proposed VirtualBox Mesa driver approach], pushing all the internal gallium API over a pipe to a GL renderer on the other side of the pipe. It isn't complete, it was only a stepping stone on my research to qemu 3D work.

The biggest issue I see with doing something like that is how to make final display of things to the X server and making things like texture from pixmap work efficiently.

The stuff I've done is on the renderer-1 branch of my mesa repo but its moved on a lot from that point, and I doubt the pipe code I wrote even builds anymore, since I've mostly moved to testing it as part of qemu now. But it currently just passes TGSI shaders through and converts them into GLSL using an assembler that will look something like the one in wine I suspect.
His Mesa renderer branch can be found here and was last updated a few days ago. Basically, he's experimenting with Mesa code to be run as a guest that could then pass the OpenGL commands onto the host through QEMU to then be processed by the host's hardware and its OpenGL driver.

With Red Hat's vested interest in GNOME 3.x, which now requires OpenGL acceleration for the desktop, hopefully this QEMU 3D support will materialize into a workable solution in the not so distant future.

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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