Ubuntu's Prolific GNOME Developer Is Looking To Tackle Deep Color Support

Written by Michael Larabel in GNOME on 3 August 2020 at 07:28 AM EDT. 28 Comments
GNOME could soon be playing nicely with deep color displays that aim to offer more realistic color reproduction thanks to the greater bit depth for each color component.

Canonical's Daniel van Vugt who has led many of the Ubuntu GNOME performance optimization initiatives and countless bug fixes for GNOME since Ubuntu switched back to using it as the default desktop is now looking at plumbing deep color support. Daniel recently has been working on better graphics clock frequency scaling as part of optimizations to improve the GNOME 4K experience particularly when using Intel graphics. The latest area he started dabbling with is deep color support.

Beyond supporting deep color in at least 30-bit mode being important by itself, this may also help with performance. Daniel found that compositing EGL clients should be faster using 30-bit since they already tend to choose that format by default, at least for Intel graphics on the modern Iris Gallium3D driver. When compositing with GNOME's Mutter the 30-bit support could be preserved rather than having to convert it, thereby avoiding extra operations.

Though there isn't any deep color support ready yet but Daniel has been working on prep changes such as logging the pixel formats used by clients. He noted in the weekly Ubuntu desktop team updates that he is indeed "made a start on the road to deep colour support" in addition to his work on Intel GPU frequency scaling and other GNOME optimizations.

With GNOME 3.38 releasing already next month, it likely won't be until next spring at least before the deep color support is ironed out, but at least it's finally being addressed. From the Linux graphics driver side, the deep color support has been in place for various drivers for a while but it's largely been on the Linux desktop side that has been lagging.
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