Steam Adds Support For The Single-File Mesa Shader Cache

Written by Michael Larabel in Valve on 17 March 2021 at 05:47 AM EDT. 19 Comments
It was less than one month ago that Valve developers added a new "single file" cache option for Mesa as an alternative to its existing multi-file cache. Valve now with their latest Steam for Linux beta is supporting this new single-file cache for faster performance.

The Mesa single file cache can help for on-disk space savings, compared to the existing Mesa on-disk shader cache taking up as much as 3x the space of the single file cache. The single file cache also makes it easier to redistribute cached shaders such as via Steam with all the shaders being tucked into one file rather than many different ones.

This single file cache is in Mesa 21.1 that won't debut as stable until next quarter while the latest Steam beta is now making use of it for those riding Mesa Git. Due to the space savings as well as better performance when parsing and modifying the cache, they were quick to land the integration on the Steam side.

This update from last night has the support for those making use of the Steam shader pre-caching feature for aiming to speed-up game load times and smooth out frame-rates for games otherwise (re)compiling shaders on the fly. Of course, this shader cache feature depends upon a cache being available for your particular Mesa revision and GPU target. In any case, great to see Valve continuing these Linux infrastructure improvements to boost the gaming potential outside of 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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