Intel's Mesa Drivers Begin Landing Preparations For The New Xe Kernel Driver

Written by Michael Larabel in Intel on 18 January 2023 at 06:10 AM EST. 1 Comment
One of the exciting announcements Intel made just before Christmas was announcing their work on the new "Xe" kernel graphics driver for Linux. This new Direct Rendering Manager (DRM) driver will eventually replace the long-standing i915 kernel driver when it comes to handling Gen12 integrated and discrete graphics as well as future Intel graphics hardware.

The Intel i915 DRM driver has been around since, well, the Intel 915 chipset days and supporting all the hardware since... The Xe kernel mode driver is for modern Gen12 integrated/discrete graphics and future iterations. This will allow Intel to provide a more modern driver focused on today's hardware. The i915 driver will continue to exist for pre-Gen12 graphics hardware.

But the new Xe kernel driver is still in active development with more work to settle before it can pursue upstreaming into the Linux kernel. But in any event, the Mesa user-space drivers are beginning to land their preparations for compatibility with the Xe kernel driver.

The existing Intel ANV Vulkan and Iris Gallium3D (OpenGL) drivers will continue to work with the new Xe kernel driver, they just need to be updated for compatibility with the new kernel driver interfaces. There has been this draft merge request following the Intel driver changes needed for running Mesa with the Xe kernel graphics driver.
"It is functional enough to run Gnome, browser, OpenGL games, Vulkan games... but eventual crashes and bugs are expected at this time.

No work has been done so far in optimizing for the new driver.

The plan is to merge this in chunks of smaller merge requests, but this merge request will be kept updated to easily allow testing."

As part of it, this merge request landed yesterday in shifting some of the i915 support code around as preparations for supporting the Xe kernel mode driver.

Exciting times ahead for the open-source Linux graphics driver stack in 2023 as this new Xe driver prepares to take flight.
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