RADV Open-Source Radeon Vulkan Driver Begins Landing Ray-Tracing Changes

Written by Michael Larabel in Radeon on 18 June 2021 at 07:05 PM EDT. 7 Comments
In recent months RADV lead developer Bas Nieuwenhuizen began working on Vulkan ray-tracing support for this Mesa Radeon Vulkan driver that isn't officially supported by AMD but as an alternative to the company's open-source AMDVLK driver or their cross-platform proprietary Vulkan driver. Hitting the Mesa 21.2-devel code a few minutes ago is the initial Vulkan ray-tracing bits for RADV!

Landing in Mesa 21.2-devel this Friday evening is implementing most of the acceleration structures with BVH building both for CPU and GPU-side builds.

Queries and copies functionality isn't in place but already the code from this now merged MR is enough to run some Vulkan ray-tracing demos.

However, as this support isn't yet complete, even if using Mesa Git the Vulkan ray-tracing extension isn't exposed by default. Those wishing to experiment with this early ray-tracing support for RADV will need to set the RADV_PERFTEST=rt environment variable. As well, the optimal support/performance is focused on AMD's latest-generation Radeon RX 6000 "RDNA2" series graphics cards.

It will be exciting to see this Vulkan ray-tracing support get squared away for RADV and will benchmark it once ready. With this open-source driver there is even experimental work underway for allowing Vulkan ray-tracing for older GPUs (pre-RDNA2).

Meanwhile AMD's official Radeon Software for Linux driver package with the "PRO" proprietary packaged components has supported Vulkan ray-tracing since April. That though is the binary-only Vulkan driver still making use of AMD's proprietary shader compiler. AMD hasn't yet provided Vulkan ray-tracing support for their open-source AMDVLK Vulkan driver that makes use of the AMDGPU LLVM shader compiler back-end. So as it stands now, RADV stands good chances of beating AMDVLK for providing good open-source Vulkan RT support.

At the moment there is admittedly not too much making use of Vulkan ray-tracing on Linux besides Quake II RTX and some demos/benchmarks... But perhaps most exciting is the ongoing work with VKD3D-Proton to allow DirectX Ray-Tracing (DXR) games to run on Linux and ultimately making use of the Vulkan ray-tracing interface. Hopefully all of these Linux driver and projects like VKD3D-Proton will all see their Vulkan RT support wrapped up nicely this year
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Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com 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 OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter, LinkedIn, or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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