Geometry Shaders / OpenGL 3.2 Finally Comes To Intel Sandy Bridge
Written by Michael Larabel in Mesa on 14 August 2014 at 08:44 AM EDT. 32 Comments
Those still using Intel Sandy Bridge hardware on Linux will be ecstatic to learn this morning that geometry shaders support has been implemented in Mesa by a new patch-set for this older Intel hardware and thereby allowing OpenGL 3.2 support to be exposed for this "Gen6" hardware.

With Ivy Bridge, Haswell, Bay Trail, and now Broadwell stealing all the attention of the Intel Open-Source Technology Center crew, Sandy Bridge is now largely an after thought within the open-source graphics driver. Of OpenGL 3.2 support, the lack of geometry shaders has been the main blocker, but Intel hasn't been proactive about implementing the support. It's possible to implement GS on Sandy Bridge, but it works differently than newer generations of hardware so is a greater commitment to support, and there's talk that it's not even exposed by the Intel Windows driver. As a result, Sandy Bridge has been tapped out at OpenGL 3.1 compliance although the Intel OTC developers said the necessary documentation is out there that any interested independent parties could potentially accomplish geometry shaders for this sixth generation Intel HD Graphics hardware.


Today that milestone has finally been reached with the community picking up the slack. Iago Toral Quiroga and Samuel Iglesias Gonsalvez of Igalia tackled the geometry shader support in Sandy Bridge. This work by the infrequent Mesa contributors implements the necessary support, doesn't expose any new Piglit regressions, and then after landing the support goes ahead to enable GL Shading Language (GLSL 1.5) and OpenGL 3.2 for Sandy Bridge hardware.

This work is spread across 37 Mesa patches but will hopefully be reviewed (and approved) in time for the upcoming Mesa 10.3 release. This great work for now can be found on the Mesa-dev list.
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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 Twitter or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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