Mesa 21.3 RADV Vulkan Driver Lands Ray-Tracing Support For Older AMD Radeon GPUs

Written by Michael Larabel in Radeon on 4 October 2021 at 08:28 AM EDT. 17 Comments
Mesa 21.3 recently landed RADV ray-tracing support for this open-source Radeon Vulkan driver with RDNA2 graphics processors. Now the software-based/emulated Vulkan ray-tracing support has been merged for handling pre-RDNA2 GPUs.

With today's Mesa 21.3 development code is support for Vulkan ray-tracing extensions on older GCN graphics processors. This Vulkan ray-tracing support relies on emulating the support in software and thus comes at a performance penalty. The RADV ray-tracing even with RDNA2 GPUs still needs more performance optimizations and considered experimental.

Like RDNA2, the Mesa RADV Git code requires the "RADV_PERFTEST=rt" environment variable to enable the ray-tracing extensions.

This software-based Vulkan RT support for RADV has been tested going back to the likes of Polaris GPUs but the actual usability will come down to the state of the driver and games/software making efficient use of the extensions.

The code was merged a few minutes ago. This is another win for open-source with AMD's Vulkan Windows driver, the official closed-source AMD Vulkan Linux driver, nor the official AMD Vulkan "AMDVLK" open-source drivers not supporting (software) ray-tracing for pre-RDNA2 GPUs. The open-source AMDVLK driver itself also still lacks any form of RT support.

The Mesa 21.3 feature freeze / branching is coming up quickly while the stable Mesa 21.3 release should happen in mid-to-late November.
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