Intel "Iris" Gallium3D Continues Advancing As The Next-Gen Intel Linux OpenGL Driver

Written by Michael Larabel in Intel on 11 November 2018 at 09:38 AM EST. 4 Comments
While we haven't had much to talk about the Intel "Iris" Gallium3D driver in development as the future Mesa OpenGL driver for the company's graphics hardware, it has continued progressing nicely since its formal unveiling back in September.

Iris Gallium3D driver is the new Intel Open-Source Technology Center project we discovered back in the summer as an effort to overhaul their open-source OpenGL driver support and one day will likely replace their mature "i965" classic Mesa driver.

There has been a lot of small commits to the Iris Gallium3D driver over the past two months, but with no major announcements on that front, we've just been watching the new functionality slowly accumulate as it tries to make parity with their classic OpenGL driver hopefully in 2019.

Among the work that's landed over the past two months include support for conditional rendering, queries, a sequence number tracking system, ARB_shader_stencil_export, ARB_enhanced_layouts, fixes to its DRI3 rendering support, scratch space handling, and also work-in-progress handling for GL compute shaders.

Progress on the Intel Gallium3D driver can be tracked via its development repository with the code not yet ready for mainline Mesa but continuing to see new commits at least every few days.

Over the current Intel classic Mesa driver, the Gallium3D driver is intended to be eventually faster (it already is in micro-benchmarks), better code sharing/re-use with utilizing the Gallium3D infrastructure, a more modern code-base designed around just recent generations of Intel graphics, and also opens up other new possibilities like using the Gallium "Nine" state tracker for faster Direct3D 9 support within Wine-based Windows games.

Once Iris Gallium3D is further along, it will certainly be interesting to see how it compares to the classic i965 driver as well as newer alternatives like the generic Zink for OpenGL over Vulkan to then see how that solution would work with the Intel ANV Vulkan open-source driver. But for now, Iris isn't yet ready to handle current Linux games but at the current rate will hopefully be quite mature by the time Intel begins shipping discrete graphics cards in 2020 -- assuming they will be extending the current Linux graphics driver stack for their dGPUs. Exciting times ahead either way for GPUs and Linux drivers.
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