Intel Linux Graphics Driver Prepares Task & Mesh Shaders, Vulkan Dynamic Rendering

Written by Michael Larabel in Intel on 4 December 2021 at 07:30 AM EST. 16 Comments
Ahead of Intel ARC graphics cards premiering next year, Intel's open-source Linux graphics driver developers remain very busy preparing for the next-generation graphics capabilities.

In recent months Intel has been working on mesh shader support as part of SPV_NV_mesh_shader / GL_NV_mesh_shader. As outlined in the spec, " This extension provides a new mechanism allowing applications to use two new programmable shader types -- the task and mesh shader -- to generate collections of geometric primitives to be processed by fixed-function primitive assembly and rasterization logic. When the task and mesh shaders are drawn, they replace the standard programmable vertex processing pipeline, including vertex array attribute fetching, vertex shader processing, tessellation, and the geometry shader processing."

NVIDIA has supported mesh shaders going back to Turing GPUs while AMD RDNA2 GPUs also support mesh shaders but not exposed yet by the open-source Vulkan driver. Intel Xe HPG meanwhile is expected to have the hardware support for mesh shaders and the open-source driver support there is coming together.

Merged on Friday were the Intel Mesa compiler side changes for supporting not only supporting mesh shaders but also task shaders. Those curious for more extensive background information on task and mesh shaders can see NVIDIA's original developer introduction to the functionality they introduced back in 2018.

Separately but in other Intel Mesa news, also pending is VK_KHR_dynamic_rendering for ANV. This gets the newly-introduced Vulkan dynamic rendering support ready for Intel's Vulkan driver.

Intel's open-source driver developers remain very busy this holiday season and hopefully in time for Mesa 22.0 next quarter they will have the DG2/Alchemist graphics support all ironed out with its feature-set and ready for those graphics cards to begin shipping, reportedly still in Q1.
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