Proposal For Creating A New Mesa Legacy Driver Branch: R300, R600, Lima, NV30 & More

Written by Michael Larabel in Mesa on 19 June 2024 at 12:40 PM EDT. 26 Comments
Mike Blumenkrantz of Valve's open-source Linux GPU driver team and known for his work on the Zink OpenGL-on-Vulkan driver has issued a proposal for creating a new legacy branch for older/less-maintained Gallium3D drivers.

There is already the Mesa "amber" legacy driver branch for classic (non-Gallium3D) drivers and other code. Blumenkrantz has raised the idea that it's time for "amber2" for forking out other Gallium3D drivers seeing little user activity or new code/development activity these days.

The initial idea for the Mesa Amber2 branch would be to punt out the NVIDIA/Nouveau NV30 driver, ATI R300, AMD R600, Lima for old Arm Mali graphics, the Virgl virtual driver, the old NVIDIA Tegra driver, and potentially other drivers to shift onto this branch.

Old graphics cards

These old Mesa drivers would remain available from this Mesa branch and Linux distributions could continue packaging up the driver support as desired. The motivation for moving these older Gallium3D drivers out is the expressed pain in doing big tree updates within Mesa. When wanting to make large changes to the Mesa codebase, these drivers still need to be updated for compatibility and that is a maintenance burden and in many times changes are made without any actual hardware testing for these aging platforms.

Old Radeon graphics card

Some may feel rubbed the wrong way with the likes of the R600 Gallium3D driver potentially going to a legacy branch for the Radeon HD 2000 through Radeon HD 6000 series support, but other than that and potentially Virgl, these are all much older graphics drivers that can continue living in the potential "amber2" branch. Those wanting to step-up to continue working on those drivers can do so via that branch while for the major hardware vendors and developers focused on advancing Mesa for more recent GPUs/drivers won't have to deal with the burden of continuing to support these older drivers.

Mike's initial proposal for this new Amber2 legacy branch for Mesa can be found on the Mesa-dev mailing list.
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