Google's VirtIO-GPU "Venus" Vulkan Driver Merged Into Mesa 21.1

Written by Michael Larabel in Mesa on 8 April 2021 at 06:38 PM EDT. 15 Comments
It was just a few days ago was the talking of the VirtIO-GPU Vulkan driver looking to be upstreamed into Mesa and now this Google "Venus" project has indeed landed.

The VirtIO-GPU Vulkan driver is named "Venus" and is living within the Mesa 21.1-devel source tree now for allowing Vulkan acceleration support within guest virtual machines with the native host system's Vulkan driver doing the actual leg work.

While this VirtIO-GPU Vulkan work is promising for the future, at the moment there are some hurdles to using it. The driver is still considered experimental -- to the extent the command serialization format isn't even finalized -- and it relies on yet-to-be-finished VirtIO kernel driver code. Rounding things out are QEMU patches still needed too.

So like the Virgl OpenGL support that has come together nicely in recent years, this "Venus" Vulkan work too but still will take more time before all the necessary components are upstreamed and found nicely out-of-the-box for end-users -- likely towards the end of this year if not next year, depending upon how the rest of the pending work pans out and how that aligns to forthcoming release cycles of Mesa, the Linux kernel, and QEMU.

The performance of Venus is decent and can even run some Linux games -- including Steam Play / Proton titles -- but we'll likely see more of a performance focus and other features once the rest of Venus is orbiting.

Google published the code last year and after a nine month long merge request, this Vulkan driver is now merged ahead of the Mesa 21.1 feature freeze this month.
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