Open-Source Win: RADV Trades Blows With AMDGPU-PRO Vulkan In F1 2017

Written by Michael Larabel in Linux Gaming on 4 November 2017. Page 1 of 4. 40 Comments

Here are some of the most exciting RADV vs. AMDGPU-PRO Vulkan performance benchmarks we have seen to date... The AMDGPU-PRO official AMD Vulkan Linux driver does run with Feral's latest Linux game port, F1 2017, but the community-driven, open-source RADV Vulkan driver often outperforms it!

Following yesterday's Radeon RADV vs. NVIDIA GeForce Linux benchmarks for the Vulkan-powered F1 2017 racing game on Linux and trying out the Intel ANV driver, my next testing target to start the weekend was with the AMDGPU-PRO Vulkan driver.

Feral Interactive officially only supports the RADV Vulkan driver with GCN 1.2+ GPUs when it comes to the Radeon graphics card support for this Linux game port released on Thursday. So going into the testing I really wasn't sure what to expect. For those living in a box and not reading Phoronix, there are current two Radeon Vulkan Linux drivers. There is the Vulkan driver currently within AMDGPU-PRO that is the official Radeon Vulkan Linux driver, but it is currently closed-source. This is the driver with a shared code-base to the Windows Vulkan driver. AMD has talked of open-sourcing this driver since even before the official Vulkan 1.0 launch, but to date it has yet to be open-sourced. I have yet to get any new information from AMD engineers about when this code might finally be open-sourced or what their state/progress is with regard to this initiative. As a result of the driver not being open-sourced in a timely manner, last year David Airlie of Red Hat and Bas Nieuwenhuizen of Google began work on this unofficial but open-source Vulkan driver for Radeon GCN GPUs using the AMDGPU kernel driver.

Over the past year RADV has become a very capable Radeon Vulkan driver living within the Mesa tree. Recently the RADV driver reached Vulkan 1.0 conformance to Khronos standards, works on all GCN 1.2+ GPUs and fairly well on GCN 1.0/1.1 when switching to the AMDGPU DRM, and in most of our tests generally performs close to the AMDGPU-PRO Vulkan performance. But for most current Linux games, the RADV Vulkan performance trails the RadeonSI OpenGL performance, in part due to most of these games featuring more mature/optimized GL renderers. As far as for the future, David Airlie has already indicated they do not plan to stop work on the RADV driver if/when AMD open-sources their Vulkan driver. While it started out just as a hobby, they figured it would be a short-lived driver, but due to its advancements, they plan to maintain this driver indefinitely. Further complicating the AMD Vulkan Linux landscape is that RADV is part of the Mesa tree while AMD has communicated their Vulkan driver will live as its own standalone project due to it being cross-platform and focused around their own interfaces and not part of Mesa. But with the lack of of information out of AMD on their open-source Vulkan driver progress, it's hard to say what will ultimately happen, etc.

When launching F1 2017 with the AMDGPU-PRO 17.40 driver on Ubuntu 17.04, there was the message box about unsupported hardware/driver. When passing that, the game launched and proceeded to run correctly!

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