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OpenGL 4.4 for Intel Linux Drivers

Posted on 05/08/2016 by Timothy Arceri

For years the open source Linux OpenGL drivers have been playing catchup to the proprietary drivers and in the case of Intel hardware to the Windows driver. Recently, a major milestone was reached in bridging this gap with the enablement of OpenGL 4.4 for the Intel Broadwell and Skylake platforms.

This puts the Intel Linux driver on par with its Windows equivalent, and makes it the first Open Source Linux driver to enable this version of OpenGL.

At Collabora, I recently had the opportunity to implement the ARB_enhanced_layouts extension which was last extension required to enable 4.4 . As described in the extensions overview this extension brings six new enhancements to the GL shader language to improve the development experience for OpenGL developers.

To top this off all the extensions required to advertise OpenGL 4.5 have already been implemented and its just a matter fixing some conformance failures before 4.5 can be enabled also. This allows me to focus my time at Collabora in the upcoming months on performance improvements to the driver working on features such as a shader cache, and improving optimastion passes for the GL shader language compiler such as loop unrolling.

I’d like to conclude by congratulating all the developers including past and present Collabora developers who have helped reach this major milestone.

Comments (6)

  1. Clemens Eisserer:
    Aug 05, 2016 at 07:40 AM

    Thanks for all the work on the intel mesa driver - it is really a joy of observing how the free driver stack got better and better over the years. Although performace-wise often not 1:1 compareable to proprietary drivers (although even this changes, there are more and more benchmarks on phoronix where mesa surpasses proprietary drivers), what I find most impressive is the high quality of the shared code-base - often mesa drivers surpass their proprietary counterparts in this regard.

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  2. Ivo Anjo:
    Aug 06, 2016 at 03:39 AM

    It's awesome to see linux open graphics kicking ass, and looking forward to the performance improvements!

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  3. Rodd Clarkson:
    Aug 06, 2016 at 07:53 AM

    How long before we should see this following through to the major distros? In my case I'm interested in Fedora, but obviously others will be interested in Ubuntu and Debian too.

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    1. Timothy Arceri:
      Aug 07, 2016 at 10:11 AM

      Well this is part of the next Mesa release which is due out in September. From there it depends on the distro, Fedora often updates Mesa versions throughout a release were as Ubuntu normally only do bug fix updates until a next release. I would expect this might not hit Ubuntu until 17.04, Fedora will likely get it much sooner.

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  4. DarrenT:
    Aug 06, 2016 at 07:56 AM

    Really great work, I appreciate how the Mesa stack has advanced so much recently. Congratulations.

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  5. Adam Bolte:
    Aug 06, 2016 at 11:33 AM

    Really nice work. It's wonderful to know that in the near future, Intel hardware will have OpenGL 4.5 support in GNU/LInux distros out of the box with free software drivers. I can't wait!

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