AMD Has A Vulkan Linux Driver, But Will Be Closed-Source At First

Written by Michael Larabel in Display Drivers on 17 September 2015 at 04:34 PM EDT. Page 2 of 2. 96 Comments.

AMD is working towards GPU scheduler optimizations, new display/power components, new hardware support, and then open-sourcing Vulkan and OpenCL components. This new power management component is proper PowerPlay support ported from Catalyst and is more featureful than the current code. This new power management code is for Volcanic Islands, a.k.a. will finally have good performance for R9 Fury and friends with the new kernel driver.

There should be several exciting kernel cycles ahead with AMDGPU updates, although there wasn't anything written about planned additions to the Radeon DRM driver that supports nearly all of the current AMD graphics hardware. Libdrm AMDGPU improvements will also be coming in step.

Once we know more about the planned transition timeline to Vulkan open-source for AMD, we'll certainly write about it. This driver is being implemented as a new open-source project leveraging their internal code-base.

It's great to finally hear AMD's open-source team talk about Vulkan. Up until now we've known a lot about the open-source Vulkan Intel driver developed by Valve/LunarG that will be published as open-source on the day the Vulkan specification is released later this year. From NVIDIA, they're readying their Vulkan driver and would anticipate it to land around the same time as the Vulkan specification debut, but will be closed-source. In the open-source NVIDIA / Nouveau space, there's no visible activity, not to mention the Nouveau developers outside of NVIDIA not being Khronos members to have early access to the specifications. Similar to the OpenGL situation now, the Nouveau driver will likely lag behind the Intel and AMD solutions until NVIDIA decides to commit firm support to this project.

If you want to run through today's AMDGPU slides, you can find them in PDF. Now to hope that The Khronos Group doesn't have to delay Vulkan into next year... It will certainly be exciting to have Vulkan Linux drivers, regardless of being open or closed.

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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