NIR: A New IR Developed For Mesa That's Better Than GLSL IR
Written by Michael Larabel in Intel on 18 August 2014 at 02:05 PM EDT. 26 Comments
Connor Abbott, the open-source developer that began contributing to the Lima Linux graphics driver while a high school student, was interning at Intel this summer even before starting college. Over the summer the focus of his Intel Linux internship was focusing on developing a new intermediate representation for Mesa graphics drivers.

Connor previously proposed the "Flatland" GLSL IR and the work went on to other Mesa IR discussions while the past few months he's been paid by Intel to work out a new Mesa IR. This new IR is called "NIR" and aims to be lower-level than GLSL IR but still high enough to be device-independent and support generic optimizations. NIR is flat, type-less, GLSL-like features, native support for SSA, and uses much less memory than GLSL IR.

On Friday there was the public announcement for this new IR for Mesa while it's still considered experimental and not yet complete. When it comes to Mesa drivers actually supporting it, there's an experimental back-end for the Intel i965 classic driver but it's not yet in a state for merging and currently the NIR code for Mesa still needs to take GLSL IR before translating it to NIR. Originally the student developer was planning to just rework GLSL IR until realizing its faults were too many and determined it would be better in the long run to just develop NIR.

Those wishing to learn more about this new IR for Mesa can find out more information via the Mesa announcement.
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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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