Testing The Open-Source "RADV" Radeon Vulkan Driver vs. AMDGPU-PRO

Written by Michael Larabel in Display Drivers on 30 August 2016. Page 6 of 6. 71 Comments

At the lower resolutions the RADV driver was surprisingly close to the AMDGPU-PRO driver when it came to the Vulkan performance with Dota 2. However, when running the game at 4K there was a significant performance shortcoming. Fortunately, RADV is still in its very early days and there's much potential and features still to be implemented for this open-source Radeon Vulkan driver. Alongside David Airlie's "semi-interesting" Mesa branch are other code branches such as in-progress HiZ support, bltting, etc. These initial numbers though are rather promising and much more positive compared to the very early days of the Radeon OpenGL driver when it was struggling much more significantly compared to the binary driver.

It will be interesting to see where the Radeon open-source Vulkan driver evolves from here... There's still no clear indication when (or even if it's questionable now when AMD's official driver will be opened up) when that AMDGPU-PRO-based Vulkan code will become public. These two Radeon Vulkan Linux drivers have different approaches with AMD's being developed standalone and cross-platform while RADV is developed around Mesa and inspired by Intel's ANV Vulkan driver while making use of NIR, etc. Given it's already fitted for the "Mesa-way" and RadeonSI Gallium3D becoming quite mature, I wouldn't be too surprised if AMD decided to just devote resources to making RADV official on Linux when using the pure open-source driver stack rather than trying to fit their Vulkan driver to play nicely with RadeonSI when it comes to interoperability, benefit from greater code sharing with RADV approach, etc while their closed-source Vulkan driver would stick around for AMDGPU-PRO. At least with Vulkan drivers being thinner than OpenGL drivers, it's not as much of a duplicated effort as their work on maintaining two OpenGL Linux drivers. But we'll see what happens in the weeks ahead with any new communication from the AMD crew and how quickly RADV continues advancing.

For RADV just starting out this summer with two developers, it's making a heck of a lot of progress while benefiting from the rest of the open-source Radeon Linux driver stack. Cheers to David and Bas on a hell of a job so far.

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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.