Upstream Mesa Close To Supporting The Experimental Xe DRM Kernel Driver

Written by Michael Larabel in Intel on 12 April 2023 at 05:30 PM EDT. 12 Comments
While we are still waiting for the Intel Xe kernel driver to be upstreamed as the modern alternative to the long-used i915 Direct Rendering Manager (DRM) driver, upstream Mesa Git is nearly ready in supporting the Xe kernel driver and its new/changed interfaces.

Over the past three months has been this draft merge request for adding support to the Xe kernel driver by Mesa's Iris Gallium3D and ANV Vulkan drivers. There are user-space API differences with this modern and freshly written Xe kernel driver that only supports Tigerlake / Gen12 graphics and newer -- both integrated and discrete graphics, thus Mesa needs to be adapted to support this driver while retaining compatibility with the i915 driver.

Over the past three months 28 different merge requests containing small portions of the Xe kernel mode driver (KMD) driver bring-up have landed in Mesa... As of today, just two merge requests remain open.

This comes after the latest MR was merged yesterday with more of the reviewed Xe interface material having landed.

As of writing the remaining merge requests that are open is functions around command submission queue / Xe engine and more Iris patches.

Xe Mesa RFC

It remains to be seen if the Xe kernel driver support will make it in time for the imminent Mesa 23.1 branching, but probably not. Especially with the Xe user-space API still subject to change as reviews on the driver continue and works its way toward mainlining in the Linux kernel... Things will likely still be in flux over the coming months, but at least Mesa Git will be nearly into shape for keeping up with the Xe driver support.

The i915 kernel driver will continue to live in the kernel too while this Xe driver focused on Gen12 and newer is able to just focus on modern Intel graphics architecture needs, make fresh design choices rather than being bound to the legacy i915 interfaces, and make other enhancements that should ultimately help allow for better performance optimizations and better supporting modern/future Intel GPU features.
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