Intel Arc Graphics Running On Fully Open-Source Linux Driver

Written by Michael Larabel in Graphics Cards on 25 August 2022 at 04:00 PM EDT. Page 1 of 1. 95 Comments.

Intel GPUs from the consumer desktop Arc Graphics hardware to the Intel Data Center Flex GPU Series "Arctic Sound M" and forthcoming Xe HPC Ponte Vecchio are built around fully open-source drivers. A common misconception or confusion I've heard many times over the past number of months has been questioning whether Intel's discrete GPU driver support on Linux is open-source or is closed-source, etc. Well, it's fully open-source aside from the usual firmware caveat and running on Linux. Here is some initial commentary with running the Intel Arc Graphics A380 on Linux!

Intel Arc Graphics A380 are beginning to appear in US retail channels. The ASRock Challenger ITX ARC 380 began shipping this week to US customers.

Intel's discrete GPU Linux driver support builds off their open-source integrated graphics driver stack they have been assembling for many years. Of course, over recent years there has been a lot of refactoring to introduce the concept of device local (discrete) video memory and other features not of relevance when their driver could just assume integrated graphics and not have to worry about discrete GPUs. I've been extensively covering their Linux dGPU driver bring-up since the start and so I continue to be surprised when finding users on Reddit, other sites and forums, etc, continue to question whether the Intel Arc Graphics driver is open-source or not, etc. Arc Graphics is an extension of the open ecosystem Intel has been building around their Linux graphics stack for years.

For what it's worth, with this ASRock graphics card at least only Windows 10 and Windows 11 are listed as supported operating systems.

Intel's discrete graphics driver support follows their same upstream-focused, open-source path as we have enjoyed with Gen12 Xe Graphics. Intel DG2/Alchemist makes use of the i915 DRM kernel driver, the Intel Iris Gallium3D driver for OpenGL, and the ANV driver for Vulkan. For those interested in oneAPI Level Zero and/or OpenCL, Intel continues investing heavily in their IGC + Compute-Runtime stack there for all of the GPU compute capabilities both for integrated and discrete hardware. Intel's Media SDK with VA-API also supports DG2 as open-source.

While for years I have been writing about the restructuring work to i915 and Mesa's ANV/Iris to accommodate Intel discrete graphics, it seems many in the Linux community still don't know -- and have questioned -- what Intel's Linux discrete driver plans are for Arc Graphics.

The caveat that does exist is for the graphics micro-controller "GuC" firmware. Just as the past decade of Radeon GPUs has required binary microcode to be loaded at initialization time and so has the Nouveau driver since the GeForce GTX 900 "Maxwell" era required signed firmware, DG2/Alchemist does need the GuC microcode loaded by the open-source driver. Intel's GuC firmware has been around for a number of generations but with Alder Lake P and newer or DG2/Alchemist, it's now a requirement. GuC is used for low-level graphics context scheduling, power management, and other purposes. There is also the related HuC micro-controller needed for authentication with HEVC/H.265 content and other security-related features albeit optional, GuC is the main blob to mention. But again this GuC firmware requirement just places it similar to the microcode/firmware handling already with NVIDIA and AMD discrete graphics cards on Linux.

So what are the version requirements for DG2/Alchemist hardware on Linux? Things are still settling down, but it can work if using Linux 6.0 Git and Mesa 22.2 or newer. Plus make sure you have linux-firmware.git for the very latest GuC firmware support. With Linux 6.0 the desktop PCI IDs are added in and other DG2 features/workarounds/improvements. But with Linux 6.0 the DG2 class support isn't exposed by default but requires setting the i915.force_probe=[PCI-ID] module option to force the driver to initialize the graphics card. Mesa 22.2 for ANV Vulkan and Iris OpenGL will in turn work out-of-the-box with current cards when booting with the necessary kernel support in place.

Intel joins AMD as being the second discrete desktop graphics card manufacturer offering an official, fully open-source Linux driver stack (sans the firmware)... In addition to the driver itself, Intel also has a whole open ecosystem around it with oneAPI.

Already for Linux 6.1 there will be more Arc Graphics improvements, including performance work. It's yet to be seen though if Intel Arc Graphics will remain "experimental" for Linux 6.1 or will be promoted in that late-2022 kernel version.

There is upstream, open-source support for Intel Arc Graphics on Linux albeit not enabled by default as of Linux 6.0.

What this still maturing open-source support does mean though is that out-of-the-box you won't find Arc Graphics working on H2'2022 Linux distributions aside from any distros that may decide to back-port the i915 DRM kernel changes and ship with a bleeding-edge Mesa. The likes of Ubuntu 22.10 will simply not be new enough for having the necessary driver support in place. It remains to be announced though how Intel intends to handle this particularly for the enterprise Linux distributions if they will provide a packaged driver back-port with a DKMS module and the like to allow new Intel dGPU customers to enjoy the support on older kernels. We'll see so stay tuned there.

Arc Graphics A380 running on fully open-source drivers with Linux 6.0 with i915.force_probe=56a5, Mesa Git, and linux-firmware.git. Benchmarks to come.

That's the short summary: basically the very latest Linux Git and Mesa code is enough to get Intel Arc Graphics working with a fully open-source driver stack that is mainline. Intel is exploring ways of also easing the driver deployment on enterprise Linux distributions and users on other non-bleeding-edge platforms.

Details as to the performance and current level of support will be found in follow-up articles while for now the main point is the fully open-source driver is working on Linux. The initial Arc Graphics A380 OpenGL/Vulkan Linux benchmarks will be up in the coming days, but for now just wanted to get this information out there for those that continue to question whether Intel's discrete graphics cards would have open-source Linux driver support...

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Michael Larabel

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