Imagination Tech Publishes Open-Source PowerVR Vulkan Driver For Mesa

Written by Michael Larabel in Vulkan on 4 March 2022 at 02:00 PM EST. 51 Comments
After many years of waiting and past faltered efforts, "Imagination Tech publishing a new open-source driver" probably wasn't on your bingo card for 2022... But they are doing such with a new open-source PowerVR Vulkan driver for Mesa.

Imagination Tech has been working on a new Vulkan driver, shader compiler, and Linux kernel driver for their PowerVR graphics processors. An initial merge request for landing the Mesa Vulkan driver has been submitted and undergoing review. There is the preliminary DRM PowerVR kernel driver also available via a Git branch but still undergoing additional changes before trying to upstream that into the Linux kernel. The necessary PowerVR firmware blobs are also available.

Imagination's current driver focus is on their newer PowerVR "Rogue" GPUs with initially focusing on the GX6250 and the AXE-1-16M and BXS-4-64 GPU designs. The developers have been using a Chromebook Acer R13 laptop as the target device for development due to its GX6250 GPU found with the Mediatek MT8173 SoC.

PowerVR's Mesa Vulkan driver is inspired by the RADV open-source Radeon Vulkan driver and can work both with their new PowerVR kernel driver and the PVRSRVMKM kernel driver included with their development kit. At the moment the PowerVR Mesa Vulkan driver is very limited in its abilities to like triangle demos with Vulkan, but over the months ahead Imagination Tech engineers expect to get this driver into better shape so it can be of use to end-users. Besides Rogue, this driver also supports Imagination's A-Series and B-series cores but it's not clear if they will end up supporting any older graphics IP.

You may be wondering what about an open-source PowerVR OpenGL driver... They are hoping to leverage the likes of Zink or ANGLE for OpenGL / GLES over Vulkan.

This initial "PVR" Mesa Vulkan driver for PowerVR GPUs is making use of NIR for its SPIR-V compiler and amounts to 58.8k lines of new code.

More details on this open-source PowerVR Vulkan driver effort via this mailing list post. This initial "PVR" Mesa Vulkan driver for select PowerVR GPUs is making use of NIR for its SPIR-V compiler and amounts to 58.8k lines of new code.
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