Intel’s New OpenGL Driver Is Looking Really Great With The Upcoming Mesa 19.2


Intel’s new open-source OpenGL Linux driver “Iris” Gallium3D that has been in development for the past two years or so is getting ready to enter the limelight. Months ago they talked of plans to have it ready to become their default OpenGL driver by the end of the calendar year and with the state of Mesa 19.2 it’s looking like that goal can be realized in time. With our new tests of this driver, in most games and other graphics applications the performance of this Gallium3D driver is now beyond that of their “classic” i965 Mesa driver.

Over the past year we’ve been looking a lot at the Intel Gallium3D performance and it’s been a remarkable journey from the performance starting out well below their decade old OpenGL driver to now mostly exceeding that classic Mesa driver and often times by wide margins. The Intel Gallium3D driver is also largely now to feature parity in terms of OpenGL extensions and other capabilities. With all of their bases covered, this summer for the upcoming Mesa 19.2 release we’ve been seeing a lot of performance optimizations land. Back in April is when they indicated they hope to have it become the default by end of year 2019 and viable by Mesa 19.2.

Given Mesa 19.2 is now branched and first release candidate issued, I decided to try out this new Intel OpenGL driver with its latest code as of yesterday for seeing just how viable it is in Mesa 19.2. Long story short, it’s very viable and I didn’t encounter any hangs or other problems and the performance is great with only a few regressions to note at this point.

Using an Intel Core i9 9900K with its Gen9 UHD Graphics 630, I ran benchmarks of the Mesa 19.2-devel code as of 20 August for both the classic i965 Mesa driver and this modern “Iris” Gallium3D driver. Linux 5.3 was used for the kernel version and Ubuntu 19.04 made up the rest of the software stack. Various OpenGL games and applications were tested for looking at the current performance difference between these drivers using the Phoronix Test Suite.