Intel's New Iris Driver Gets Speed Boost From Changing The OpenGL Vendor String
Written by Michael Larabel in Intel on 16 April 2019 at 02:24 PM EDT. 27 Comments
Following yesterday's Intel Iris vs. i965 OpenGL benchmarks against Windows 10, there is already an optimization out of our latest testing as a result.

Iris driver lead developer Kenneth Graunke of Intel's Open-Source Technology Center landed a change in Mesa 19.1 today to really help out the performance in at least Valve's Portal game. In our benchmarks yesterday, Iris was coming in at 52 FPS to i965's 69 FPS and Windows 10 at 75 FPS. With the quick change in Mesa Git today, Ken finds on at least his system to get 1.8x better Portal performance where Iris equates to being 3.86% faster than the i965 driver.

The change? Just changing the OpenGL vendor string from "Mesa Project" to "Intel". It's not too surprising considering all of the vendor/renderer string checks from over the years, but in at least Portal Valve is checking for "Intel" in the OpenGL vendor string whether to take a given code path. With this change, there is a consistent vendor string across the Windows and Linux Intel OpenGL drivers.

Graunke also commented in the forums, "Thanks for running these, Michael! It's always really nice to have an extra set of data about how we're doing. I fixed Portal, it's now 3.86% faster than i965 on my laptop. Hadn't looked at that one until I saw this."

Only the Portal game is talked about in this context but the change may very well benefit other titles too that have been looking for "Intel" in the vendor string for choosing the preferred OpenGL code-path.
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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 or contacted via

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