Experimental Zink On NVIDIA's Vulkan Driver Capable Of Outperforming OpenGL Driver

Written by Michael Larabel in Mesa on 18 November 2021 at 08:33 AM EST. 51 Comments
The latest Zink development code paired with the forthcoming "Copper" work is yielding an OpenGL-on-Vulkan implementation that when running on NVIDIA's proprietary Vulkan driver is even able to outperform NVIDIA's own proprietary OpenGL driver for at least one notable Linux game.

Following the recent achievements around Zink / Copper and getting Wayland's Weston running atop the experimental code, he shared that with NVIDIA's proprietary driver stack this is a big improvement.

Zink already has been able to run on the NVIDIA proprietary driver stack but with some performance issues. Those performance issues are solved with the Copper development code to yield much better performance.

With the NVIDIA 495.44 beta driver when running his latest Mesa/Zink code, he found Tomb Raider with Zink can deliver better performance than going through NVIDIA's native OpenGL driver. Tomb Raider is notable in that it's one of the more demanding Linux games that makes use of native OpenGL and can also render correctly with Zink.

With NVIDIA OpenGL driver led to around a 121 FPS average while using NVIDIA's Vulkan driver with Zink led to a 151 FPS average. The minimum frame-rate was similar between implementations.

Blumenkrantz wrote on his blog, "I doubt that zink maintains this performance gap for all titles, but now we know that there are already at least some cases where it can pull ahead. Given that most vendors are shifting resources towards current-year graphics APIs like Vulkan and D3D12, it won’t be surprising if maintenance-mode GL drivers start to fall behind actively developed Vulkan drivers. In short, there’s a real possibility that zink can provide tangible benefits to vendors who only want to ship Vulkan drivers, and those benefits might be more than (eventually) providing a conformant GL implementation."
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Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com 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 OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter, LinkedIn, or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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