The Open-Source Intel Vulkan Linux Driver's Anatomy

Written by Michael Larabel in Intel on 22 September 2016 at 05:44 PM EDT. 8 Comments
Intel Open-Source Technology Center developer Jason Ekstrand presented earlier today at XDC2016 with a presentation entitled "The Anatomy of a Vulkan Driver" where he covers how he and fellow Intel developers brought up the first open-source Vulkan driver and had it ready for launch-day when Khronos formally unveiled the specification earlier this year.

The early part of the presentation will be boring to anyone who frequently reads Phoronix with the dozens of articles I've written since February concerning progress on the Intel Vulkan driver, Vulkan itself, etc. The early part of the presentation just provides a basic overview of what is Vulkan, the need for Vulkan, etc etc... But the latter half of the presentation is what's interesting when he talks more about the design decisions, how he and basically three Intel developers brought up this driver (along with the support of many other Intel developers), and other commentary surrounding the Intel Linux Vulkan driver's design.

Ekstrand also commented for the skeptics on how Gallium3D isn't fitting for layering Vulkan atop, why their Vulkan driver is in Mesa / the code they are able to share between their drivers, Vulkan support not coming to Sandy Bridge (it would be possible to run a sub-set of Vulkan on Sandy Bridge, but with the hardware lacking compute shaders it wouldn't work out and really isn't worthwhile without the compute shader capabilities), etc.

Unfortunately the PDF slides haven't been uploaded for this Vulkan anatomy driver presentation, but the video recording is now available without having to deal with the stream's 2-hour limitation when live. To see the presentation, it's the first presentation of the XDC2016 Day 2 stream embedded below; it's certainly worthwhile for anyone into Vulkan and has an hour to spare, or at least 30+ minutes for the more interesting parts after the introductory coverage.

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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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