Mesa 19.0 Can Cut In Half The Amount Of Memory For Team Fortress 2

Written by Michael Larabel in Mesa on 19 January 2019 at 06:19 AM EST. 20 Comments
Timothy Arceri of Valve's open-source Linux graphics driver team has landed patches in Mesa 19.0 that drastically reduce the amount of system memory used when firing up the Team Fortress 2 game.

Arceri started off with a patch on Friday to ensure GLSL IR optimizations are run during the initial shader compilation process. That patch partially reverts work done a year ago that delayed some of these optimizations since it would speed-up Deus Ex: Mankind Divided start times by about twenty seconds. So games with a ton of shaders like Deus Ex will go back to starting up slower on initial shader compiles until optimized and cached, but applying these optimizations reduced the memory use in Team Fortress 2 from 1.5GB to 1.3GB.

Timothy followed up with a second patch to be more aggressive about skipping shader compilation. That patch is for dealing with games like Team Fortress 2 that may compile a lot of shaders but never actually link them. On a warm shader cache, this saves memory and in turn takes the Team Fortress 2 RAM usage from 1.3GB down to 770MB on subsequent starts to TF2.

So with the upcoming Mesa 19.0 release, the memory usage goes from around 1.5GB down to around 770MB all thanks to better shader cache behavior/management. Mesa 19.0 is going into a feature freeze at the end of the month while the official 19.0 release should be out by the end of February.
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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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