Mesa "Terakan" Driver Aims To Provide Vulkan Support For Old Radeon HD 6000 Series

Written by Michael Larabel in Radeon on 19 May 2023 at 08:45 AM EDT. 25 Comments
There's a new open-source Vulkan driver in development by an independent developer that is working on providing support for aging Radeon HD 6000 series "Northern Islands" graphics processors.

Open-source developer Vitaliy Kuzmin "Triang3l" who is known for his work on the Xenia Xbox 360 emulator in recent weeks has been working on Terakan as a Mesa Vulkan driver for the Radeon HD 6000 series, namely the Radeon HD 6900 series is where his testing has taken place.

The widely-used Mesa RADV Vulkan driver has only supported Radeon HD 7000 series GCN graphics cards and newer -- for GCN 1.0/1.1 GPUs also means having to use the AMDGPU kernel Direct Rendering Manager (DRM) driver rather than the Radeon driver used by default for GCN 1.0/1.1 hardware. Now though for those still relying on pre-GCN graphics cards, the Terakan driver aims to work with the Radeon HD 6000 series on the Radeon DRM Linux kernel driver. Kuzmin has been tweeting about his adventures the past several weeks:

The driver is still in the very early stages of development. Some of the early Terakan code is currently queued up in his Triang3l Mesa repository.

Radeon HD 6900 series Vulkan

It will be interesting to see ultimately how well this works out and if only ends up supporting the Cayman GPUs of the HD 6000 series line-up or ultimately ends up working out well for additional pre-GCN GPUs. The usefulness though regardless is likely to be rather limited considering that these aging AMD Radeon GPUs simply aren't powerful enough for running many modern games -- regardless of native Vulkan API support or if going through DXVK, etc. But still this Vulkan API driver could be useful for running some more basic games, any compositors adding Vulkan API support, and other basic uses for this graphics API. Some Vulkan API functionality though also won't be possible with these GPUs but in any case it will be interesting to see what comes of this open-source Terakan driver. To reiterate though, right now this driver is at the very earliest stages of development and isn't yet close to being ready by end-users.
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