RadeonSI Gallium3D Driver Adds Sparse Texture Support For GFX9/Vega & Newer

Written by Michael Larabel in Mesa on 30 December 2021 at 06:10 AM EST. 4 Comments
As one of the last major feature changes heading into Mesa Git this calendar year, RadeonSI Gallium3D as the open-source OpenGL driver for modern AMD Radeon GPUs there is now sparse texture support.

ARB_sparse_texture is now implemented in Mesa 22.0-devel for RadeonSI with GFX9/Vega and newer graphics processors. Sparse textures frees up the mandate that all textures are physically-backed in vRAM and allows for texture paging / on-demand loading of texture assets and other flexibility not otherwise permitted with OpenGL.

With texture sizes only increasing and accommodating them all into video memory can be a challenge for some games/engines, ARB_sparse_texture can be very beneficial to texture-heavy software. RadeonSI is now the first driver within Mesa implementing ARB_sparse_texture support. RadeonSI previously implemented ARB_sparse_buffer support as the only hardware driver doing so. With the sparse texture support, Mesa 22.0 has also now raised the ARB_sparse_buffer requirement from Sea Islands and newer to now GFX9/Vega and newer. ARB_sparse_buffer on GFX8 era hardware was found to cause possible hangs with GPUs like Polaris.

The RadeonSI sparse texture support was merged this morning after being under review the past few weeks on Mesa GitLab. So if you are on GFX9/Vega or newer, this sparse textures support (also commonly referred to as partially resident textures) is another nice open-source driver improvement to end out the year.
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