OpenGL Drivers In 2021 Still Sadly Benefit From Faking Their Driver Name / GPU

Written by Michael Larabel in Mesa on 30 July 2021 at 07:00 AM EDT. 28 Comments
Years ago particularly when the open-source Linux GPU drivers were in their infancy it was known in some cases having to fake/spoof the GPU driver name or model in order to workaround artificial bugs / problematic code paths targeted to a particular OpenGL driver or even to achieve greater performance. With a new Mesa merge request called "Unleash the dragon!", this is still very much a problem in 2021 even now in the Android space.

Google's Rob Clark who founded the Freedreno project for open-source Qualcomm Adreno project years ago created this new "Unleash the dragon!" merge request for Mesa. In 2021 the problem has shifted to Android games still relying on OpenGL have become accustomed to artificially changing their settings/capabilities based on the OpenGL renderer and GPU model.

Rob mentioned in this Freedreno-focused MR, "A number of android games are so far, sadly, unaware of open source
drivers. And when they see an unknown driver they lump it in the lowest performance tier, artificially limiting framerate and/or gfx settings...Furthermore, some games seem to be limiting too conservatively when we otherwise have plenty of headroom even if we claim to be a bigger adreno. Possibly a concession to battery life or tighter thermal constraints in a phone, as compared to something like a chromebook. Or maybe the flagship gaming phone thing is a scam ;-)

The merge request is around wiring up support for per-device DRIConf overrides and adding support for "force_gl_renderer" to easily override the OpenGL renderer string for cases like this where it can mean a big performance difference when working around quirky games/apps.

Call of Duty Mobile, Asphalt 9, and PUBG Mobile are among the Android games seeing benefits from faking the renderer. The MR to "unleash the dragon!" is currently undergoing review but will presumably get buttoned up in time for next quarter's Mesa 21.3.
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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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