Mesa's Exciting Milestones So Far In 2021 From Zink To Great Intel/AMD Open-Source Work

Written by Michael Larabel in Mesa on 27 June 2021 at 09:37 AM EDT. Add A Comment
With the half-way point for the year upon us, here is a look back at the most exciting Mesa open-source graphics driver news so far in 2021 with exciting contributions from Microsoft, AMD and Intel continuing to be the most open-source friendly graphics vendors, Zink making remarkable progress for OpenGL over Vulkan, performance optimizations galore, more embedded Vulkan drivers coming about, and other milestones for open-source Linux graphics.

In marking the half-way point, the most viewed Mesa news from H1'2021 include:

NVIDIA Proposes Mesa Patches To Support Alternative GBM Back-Ends
NVIDIA has proposed a merge request to Mesa that would lay the infrastructure for allowing alternative GBM (Generic Buffer Manager) back-ends to be loaded, such as for NVIDIA's proprietary driver should it presumably implement GBM in the future.

Zink OpenGL-On-Vulkan Now "100%-1000% Faster" For Many Scenarios
Mike Blumenkrantz working under contract for Valve on the Zink OpenGL-on-Vulkan implementation continues making remarkable progress on this Mesa code.

Another NVIDIA Engineer Just Made His First Contribution To Mesa
Another NVIDIA engineer has made his first contribution to Mesa in the rather interesting focus of fixing up Volta so atomic operations will work with OpenCL SVM.

AMD Proposing Redesign For How Linux GPU Drivers Work - Explicit Fences Everywhere
Well known open-source AMD Linux graphics driver developer Marek Olšák published an initial proposal this week as "a redesign of how Linux graphics drivers work."

Mesa Flips On OpenGL Threading For Valheim To Deliver Better Performance
For those enjoying the Valheim, the new survival/sandbox game that has been an incredible success and sold more than four millions of copies so far while being a low-budget indie game, Mesa should be providing better performance when using its OpenGL renderer.

Mesa Considers Raising CPU Support Baseline
Mesa developers are currently discussing the raising of the default compiler baseline for Mesa drivers moving forward, which would raise the base CPU requirements for these open-source Mesa drivers unless overriding the compiler flags. However, only the very oldest systems would be negatively impacted.

Zink Lands Threaded Context Support For A Big Speed Boost With OpenGL Over Vulkan
Mesa 21.1 is looking to be another exciting release to be introduced later this quarter while going into feature freeze around mid-April. The latest work to land is threaded context support for Zink, which means faster performance for this OpenGL-over-Vulkan implementation.

Mesa's Radeon "RADV" Vulkan Driver Makes First Steps Towards Ray-Tracing
There still is much work left to be completed but Mesa's Radeon Vulkan driver "RADV" has made its first baby steps towards ray-tracing support with Radeon RX 6000 "RDNA2" series hardware.

Google's VirtIO-GPU "Venus" Vulkan Driver Merged Into Mesa 21.1
It was just a few days ago was the talking of the VirtIO-GPU Vulkan driver looking to be upstreamed into Mesa and now this Google "Venus" project has indeed landed.

Mesa 21.0 Is Now Working With Haiku OS For Software OpenGL Rendering
BeOS-inspired Haiku OS can now run with Mesa 21.0 well using the latest development code.

Mesa 21.0 Released With Numerous RADV Improvements, New Vulkan Extensions, Many Fixes
Following several weeks of delays, Mesa 21.0 was officially released today as the newest quarterly feature update for this collection of predominantly open-source OpenGL and Vulkan drivers for Linux systems.

Intel Tiger Lake Xe Graphics On Linux 5.12 Git, Mesa 21.1-devel
Recently I wrapped up some tests looking at the Dell XPS Linux laptop with Core i7 1165G7 "Tiger Lake" processor when looking at the Linux kernel performance of 5.10 vs. 5.11 vs. 5.12 as well as the impact if upgrading to the Linux 5.12 kernel.

Zink OpenGL-On-Vulkan Now Works Atop NVIDIA's Linux Driver
Zink as the generic OpenGL implementation built atop the Vulkan API while leveraging Mesa's Gallium3D can now work atop NVIDIA's proprietary graphics driver.

Mesa 21.x Seems To Muck Up Gamers' Trust Factor For Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
Those moving to Mesa 21.x releases for the latest open-source GPU driver support on Linux are seemingly finding their Valve "Trust Factor" matchmaking system scores dropping for Counter-Strike: GO, leading to numerous upset Linux gamers with AMD Radeon GPUs.

Zink Now Supports OpenGL 4.5 Over Vulkan With Mesa 21.1
It was just yesterday we were talking about Zink achieving OpenGL 4.3 support and wondering if OpenGL 4.4 or potentially even 4.5 could be buttoned up in time for Mesa 21.1... Well, as of a few minutes ago Zink now is advertising OpenGL 4.5 support for this graphics API layer built atop Vulkan.

More Progress Is Made Understanding Apple's M1 GPU, Working Towards An Open Driver
Alyssa Rosenzweig, known for her work on the Panfrost open-source driver for Arm Mali graphics, has published the latest findings around the Apple M1 graphics processor. In fact, enough understanding to get a shaded, spinning cube rendering on the Apple M1 using a simple demo so far while the open-source driver support is still the goal.

Mesa 21.1 Released With RADV Variable Rate Shading, More Intel Vulkan Improvements
Mesa 21.1 is available today as the latest quarterly feature release to this collection of open-source OpenGL and Vulkan drivers. There are many features to show with this new release and it even managed to release on-schedule.

Zink OpenGL-On-Vulkan Hits Another "Massively Improved Performance" Milestone
The Zink component to Mesa that provides a generic OpenGL implementation built atop the Vulkan API recently hit another "massively improved performance" milestone by Valve contractor Mike Blumenkrantz.

VirtIO-GPU Vulkan Driver Looks To Go Upstream In Mesa
The VirtIO-GPU Vulkan driver is looking to be upstreamed in Mesa in allowing Vulkan support for virtualized guests that in turn is handled by the host's Vulkan driver/hardware.

Mesa 21.0 Aiming For Release Tomorrow With Windows DXGI Winsys, RDNA 2 Improvements
The Mesa release train once again rode off the tracks but this week looks like it will get back on track with hopes of releasing Mesa 21.0 on Thursday.
Related News
About The Author
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

Popular News This Week