Open-Source RADV Vulkan Driver Is Seeing Work To Allow Building It On Windows

Written by Michael Larabel in Mesa on 19 October 2020 at 01:34 PM EDT. 18 Comments
An independent party has slowly begun merging patches into mainline Mesa for allowing the open-source Radeon Vulkan driver "RADV" to build on Microsoft Windows.

AMD is not behind this effort nor Valve but has been worked on in recent months for making Mesa's Radeon Vulkan driver code compatible with Windows. James Park of a little known "Lag Free Games" has been behind this initiative to bringing it to Windows and seemingly only explaining in private to upstream Mesa developers his motivations for doing so.

RADV as a reminder is the Mesa Radeon Vulkan driver started out by David Airlie of Red Hat and Bas Nieuwenhuizen of Google in the time while waiting for AMD to open-source their Vulkan driver. AMD ultimately provided "AMDVLK" as their official open-source Vulkan driver derived from their internal Vulkan driver sources and built against the AMDGPU LLVM compiler back-end.

AMD has continued providing weekly/bi-weekly code snapshots of AMDVLK in public while RADV over the past few years has become the more popular option for Linux gamers. RADV often outperforms AMDVLK and even the AMDGPU-PRO Vulkan driver that is in line with AMD's Radeon Software for Windows Vulkan driver. Especially with the investments made by Valve and their developers working extensively on RADV as well as the now-default ACO compiler back-end has yielded mighty impressive Vulkan performance figures for this technically unofficial Radeon Vulkan driver.

Two months ago James Park began a work-in-progress merge request working on building the RADV driver with ACO back-end on Windows. That has amounted to more than five dozen patches in aiming to make RADV and related parts of the Mesa code-base compatible with Windows.

The work in full hasn't been merged but bits of it are beginning to hit Mesa 20.3-devel in taking baby steps towards the bigger items. There have been various small changes merged over the past week while today some more interesting elements have arrived, namely a cross-platform read-write lock API and a cross platform memstream API that works on both Linux and Windows.

Right now this isn't meaningful for gamers/end-users but it will be interesting to see the ultimate course of action if when complete will allow making use of the RADV+ACO driver on Windows. In turn, how the performance is compared to the official Radeon Vulkan Windows driver that is largely similar to the AMDGPU-PRO Vulkan driver.

Unrelated to this RADV activity but the overall Mesa Windows state also continues to improve as well thanks to Microsoft and their work on not WSL2 support and getting OpenCL/OpenGL over DirectX on Windows.
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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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