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Intel’s Linux OpenGL/Vulkan Drivers Seeing Minor Performance Gains With Mesa 19.1

With Mesa 19.1 due to be released in the coming days as the quarterly update to this open-source OpenGL/Vulkan driver stack, here are some fresh benchmarks looking at how the current Intel (i965) OpenGL and ANV Vulkan drivers performance compare to that of the existing Mesa 19.0 stable series.

Mesa 19.1 is quite notable on the Intel side as it’s the first release shipping the new Intel “Iris” Gallium3D driver. That is the company’s new open-source OpenGL driver aiming to be their default OpenGL implementation by the end of 2019. With Mesa 19.1 it’s still experimental but can be easily enabled via an environment variable switch (assuming it’s also part of your build configuration). For Mesa 19.1 the Iris Gallium3D driver is virtually at performance parity to the standard i965 driver as shown by the latest benchmarks earlier this month.

With today’s article looking at the Mesa 19.0 vs. 19.1 performance, just the default i965 driver is being compared. The Iris Gallium3D driver benchmarks from earlier this month remain relevant given the 19.1 code has been branched and under a feature freeze since the start of May. Additionally, this article also looks at the Intel “ANV” Vulkan driver performance between 19.0 and 19.1 for the relevant Vulkan Linux games.

For Mesa 19.1, the Intel driver (and Mesa OpenGL drivers at large) are still bound to OpenGL 4.5 compliance rather than OpenGL 4.6. But it’s looking like for Mesa 19.2 in August we’ll finally see OpenGL 4.6 officially exposed for the Intel open-source OpenGL driver. As for work on the Vulkan driver side, this past quarter it’s mostly been the never-ending game of staying up to date with the quickly revising Vulkan specification and the introduction of new extensions. The Intel Vulkan driver has done a great job at keeping up to spec and also squeezing extra bits of performance here and there.

Today’s benchmarks were with the UHD Graphics 630 of an Intel Core i9 9900K processor. The Gen9 graphics are getting old but even still with Mesa 19.1 there are some minor optimizations to note. It will be much more exciting when Icelake processors with Gen11 graphics surface and can’t wait to begin testing them under Linux. These Intel Linux graphics benchmarks were carried out, as always, via the Phoronix Test Suite and this host running Ubuntu 19.04 with the Linux 5.0 kernel.

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