Mesa Hit OpenGL 4.5, Received Vulkan Drivers, Improved Performance & More In 2016

Written by Michael Larabel in Mesa on 27 December 2016 at 06:24 AM EST. Add A Comment
Almost any longtime Linux user or Phoronix reader will surely agree with me that Mesa absolutely rocked this year for the open-source graphics stack.

This year Mesa finally hit OpenGL 4.5 compliance (along with OpenGL 4.3/4.4 before that), received its first Vulkan drivers via Intel ANV and the unofficial Radeon RADV code, saw many significant performance improvements throughout core Mesa and the hardware drivers, seen improvements to NIR and other core areas of Mesa, saw AMD Polaris support in RadeonSI at launch, the OpenSWR software rasterizer was merged, various improvements to the Gallium3D state trackers like for video acceleration and D3D9, and so much more.

For reminiscing over Mesa's hell of a year, here's a look at the most popular Mesa articles on Phoronix in 2016 of our over 200 original articles about the Mesa3D project this year:

BioShock Infinite Can Run More Than 23% Faster With New RadeonSI Patches
Marek Olšák at AMD continues optimizing the RadeonSI Gallium3D driver for offering much better Linux gaming performance when using this open-source AMD graphics driver code. The latest are double-digit gains for at least the BioShock Infinite game.

RadeonSI Patches For Compiling Optimized Shader Variants Asynchronously
AMD developer Marek Olšák pushed his latest RadeonSI Gallium3D patch series into Mesa Git a few hours ago for further improving the open-source Radeon OpenGL driver stack.

Mesa 12.0 RC4 Released, Mesa 12 Officially Coming Soon
Emil Velikov announced the release this morning of the fourth and final planned release candidate for Mesa 12.0.

Mesa 11.2 Features For When It's Released Very Soon
Besides Linux 4.5 expected this weekend, the release of Mesa 11.2 is also imminent.

AMD Polaris Support Lands In Mesa's RadeonSI Gallium3D Driver
While AMD just open-sourced their next-gen Polaris graphics driver code this week, changes have already landed in LLVM and this morning the Mesa/Gallium3D modifications necessary have landed in mainline Mesa.

The 12 Big New Features Of Mesa 12.0
With Mesa 12 now having been branched with plans to release next month, the code is under a feature freeze as developers turn to fixing bugs ahead of this stable release. With no more major features planned, here's an overview of the new features for Mesa 12.0.

Latest Mesa Update Lands In Ubuntu 16.04, Enables OpenGL 4.1 With LLVM 3.8
In the process of landing in the Ubuntu 16.04 "Xenial Xerus" package archive is the newly-minted Mesa 11.1.2. While a point release update for Ubuntu of Mesa isn't usually noteworthy, with this change they are also building against LLVM 3.8 to allow OpenGL 4.1 support for the RadeonSI Gallium3D driver.

OpenGL 4.5 Is Not The End Of The Road For OpenGL
Particularly after writing about OpenGL 4 progress in Mesa, it's quite common to see comments in our forums and elsewhere about people thinking when "Mesa is done" or how "OpenGL 4.5 is the last major release" or "Vulkan makes OpenGL dead", etc.

Mesa & AMDGPU-PRO Appear To Run Fine With Rocket League On Linux
With many Linux gamers having looked forward to the Linux release of Rocket League, I tested out the Linux port of the game when using Mesa RadeonSI Gallium3D as well as the AMDGPU-PRO blob.

Mesa 11.2.1 Released For Stable Users Of Open-Source Linux GPU Drivers
Mesa 11.2.1 is now available as the first maintenance release for Mesa 11.2.

Much Faster MSAA Anti-Aliasing Is Coming For R600g/RadeonSI
Marek Olšák posted a patch today to significantly boost the performance for games using multi-sample anti-aliasing (MSAA) on both the R600g and RadeonSI Gallium3D drivers.

Core Mesa Is Now Just One Step Away From OpenGL 4.3 Compliance
Mesa is now very close to OpenGL 4.3 compliance thanks to a massive patch series that was posted today for review.

Intel's Mesa Driver Now Enables OpenGL 4.5
Intel's Mesa OpenGL driver now officially enables OpenGL 4.5 support for Broadwell "Gen 8" hardware and newer.

Radeon GL Threading Work Leads To 70% Speed Boost In At Least One Game
Expert Mesa developer Marek Olšák at AMD is spending this weekend hacking on some new OpenGL threading code to benefit the open-source Radeon Linux driver stack.

Marek Continues Baking More Mesa Optimizations
AMD developer Marek Olšák continues leading their recent charge on looking to boost the performance potential out of Mesa / Gallium3D.

Marek Has Taken To Improving Mesa's GLSL Compiler Performance
With catching up on the OpenGL extensions, Marek Olšák of AMD has been spending a fair amount of time on performance optimizations for the AMD's open-source OpenGL driver and some code that benefits Mesa as a whole too. One of his latest patch series is on optimizing Mesa's GLSL compiler performance.

These 17 Patches Effectively Put Intel Mesa Done With OpenGL 4.4 & 4.5
Timothy Arceri sent out the latest version of his Intel Mesa patches for the ARB_enhanced_layouts OpenGL extension. These patches finish up this last GL extension that's needed by this open-source Intel Linux driver before it can claim OpenGL 4.4 and then 4.5 compliance.

Getting Started With Mesa Development This Weekend
It seems more and more independent developers are interested in getting involved in Mesa open-source graphics driver development, but aren't really sure where to start or what are some easy tasks to get started.

Features You Will Not Find In The Mesa 13.0 Release
While Mesa 13.0 is coming along for release next month with exciting features like OpenGL 4.5 for Intel, unofficial GL 4.4/4.5 for RadeonSI/NVC0, and the addition of the RADV Radeon Vulkan driver, there is some functionality that sadly won't be found in this release.

BioShock Infinite Runs Much Faster For RadeonSI On Mesa Git: ~40%
Earlier this week the deferred flushes change landed in Radeon Gallium3D code for reportedly offering 23%+ performance improvements in BioShock Infinite as one example. I've tested out BioShock Infinite and other changes to confirm the performance differences.

For those wanting to remember about last year's Mesa strides for comparison, see The Mesmerizing Mesa Milestones Of 2015.
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Michael Larabel

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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