The Shiny New Features Of Mesa 18.3 For Open-Source Intel / Radeon Graphics Drivers
Written by Michael Larabel in Mesa on 13 November 2018 at 07:00 AM EST. 17 Comments
Being well into the Mesa 18.3 feature freeze and that quarterly update to these open-source OpenGL/Vulkan drivers due out in about two weeks, here is a look at all of the new features and changes you can expect to find with this big update.

Mesa 18.3 feature highlights for this update to end out 2018 include:

AMD RadeonSI OpenGL / RADV Vulkan

- AMD Raven 2 APU support for both RadeonSI and RADV.

- AMD Picasso APU support.

- RADV Vega 20 support after the Vega 20 support for RadeonSI landed in Mesa 18.2.

- Vulkan transform feedback lands for the RADV driver as a big boost for the DXVK gaming support for better emulating Direct3D Stream-Out functionality with this new unofficial Vulkan extension.

- VCN JPEG decode support landed for Raven Ridge APUs, which works in conjunction with the latest Linux kernel code.

- RADV now supports VK_EXT_pci_bus_info.

- Faster RadeonSI fast color clears.

- RADV 16-bit integer support for the RADV Vulkan code.

- Yet another RADV change is on-demand compilation for built-in shaders.

- OpenGL 4.5 compatibility profile support for RadeonSI is another big win for Wine/DXVK/Proton gaming with Radeon GPUs.

- RADV support for conservative rasterization.

Intel i965 OpenGL / ANV Vulkan

- Intel Whiskey Lake support was merged.

- Intel Amber Lake support also landed.

- PRIME-style support for the Intel ANV Vulkan driver.

Other Drivers

- Lower overhead work on the Freedreno Gallium3D code.

- Hardware binning for Adreno 600 series on Freedreno, another performance optimization, following the initial A6xx support.

- OpenGL 3.3 compatibility profile for VMware SVGA for those using this driver stack with guest VMs on VMware virtualization products.

Common Mesa

- EGL Device Extensions for all Mesa drivers to bring up EGL without an underlying/native windowing system implementation.

- Mesa's build process now works with Python 3 while retaining compatibility with Python 2.

- Less compiler warnings.

There is a lot of great stuff, especially for Radeon and Intel graphics. Sadly not much to report on the Nouveau front nor is there any open-source NVIDIA Vulkan driver yet. Sadly Red Hat's Nouveau SPIR-V/NIR support didn't make it for Mesa 18.3. Another big missing item for Mesa 18.3 is no support for OpenGL 4.6, which has been out for more than one year, as the SPIR-V ingestion work isn't yet complete. But overall Mesa 18.3 is shaping up to be another prominent release and we'll have more benchmarks of it out soon.
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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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