Mesa Vulkan Branch Published For Intel Linux Support

Written by Michael Larabel in Intel on 16 February 2016 at 10:52 AM EST. 67 Comments
Following this morning's long-awaited Vulkan 1.0 release with our lengthy write-up and initial thoughts, Intel has joined NVIDIA in offering a Linux driver for Vulkan.

As mentioned in my article, the Intel Linux Vulkan driver isn't based upon LunarG's original open-source driver prototype they did for Valve. Their new driver for Linux is Vulkan 1.0 conformant and was written in-house by Jason Ekstrand, Wayland creator Kristian Høgsberg Kristensen, Chad Versace, and others over the past year.

The initial code to the branch is in this Vulkan Mesa branch. The files within src/vulkan amount to around 36k lines of code, excluding tests. This Vulkan Mesa code is designed just around the Intel driver and isn't using Gallium3D or the like. A lot of the code is prefixed as anv_ and appears to stand for a new "Anvil" name. Intel developers have already said that not a lot of this driver code can be easily shared with other drivers.

The open-source Intel Vulkan driver is officially supporting Broadwell, Braswell, and Skylake graphics hardware. With those latest architectures, that's where they have Vulkan 1.0 conformance but it should work on hardware all the way back to Ivy Bridge but with possible issues.

The Intel Vulkan driver is living in Mesa as they are utilizing the same NIR core common to their Mesa DRI driver as well as the same compiler back-end. They added in a SPIR-V to NIR pass and other changes for bringing Vulkan support.

More details can be found via this post. Ubuntu and Fedora packages are in the process of being built via third-party archives (PPA and Copr, respectively) for those wanting to try out Vulkan 1.0 on modern Intel graphics hardware.

With the Mesa 11.2 branching set to happen Friday, Intel will be working on upstreaming the core to mesa in the next few weeks. The next Mesa release will come in 3~4 months time. The Intel Vulkan driver does depend upon DRI3 rendering support, where as DRI2 is the default, so you must manually enable Direct Rendering Infrastructure 3 if wishing to try out this driver.

I'll be testing out the Intel Vulkan Linux driver when I move on with the Vulkan benchmarking plans.
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Michael Larabel is the principal author of and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 20,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter, LinkedIn, or contacted via

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