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Valve really do seem to be the champions of Linux right now. Even if you don't like Steam you cannot deny just how much they have done for our ecosystem already. The latest effort is to improve Mesa.

LunarGLunarG received funding from Valve to explore the possibility of game performance improvements using the LunarGLASS technology in the Mesa driver, specifically the potential for FPS improvements through shader runtime improvements. LunarGLASS includes the glslang frontend and the LLVM compiler component as well additional modifications to make LLVM suitable for shader compilation.

The main component developed for this effort was a translator from LunarGLASS Bottom IR to Mesa GLSL IR. This allows all Mesa backends which consume Mesa GLSL IR to potentially benefit from this technology, including i965.

You can see a .pdf full of slides with more information on it here.

They have funded LunarG to conduct test and write code for "Glassy Mesa" to improve the Mesa open source graphics project.

They mentioned tests on Left 4 Dead 2 that showed a 15%-22% improvement which for graphics performance is in my eyes a massive change and I really hope something comes out of this. Although this is only from a couple of random samples taken, so it may not indicate such a good improvement overall.

The crazy thing is this took only 10 weeks to achieve by one person. Imagine if this work kept up and all the distributions picked it up. We could really get ahead of other operating systems graphical performance, and I am sure we can all agree that would be great.

See the full post on it here. For the code geeks amongst us it's all available to check out on github.

The slides do note there is much work to be done, so it's probably still some ways away from being include into Mesa itself for distributions to pick up.

We have contacted LunarG to keep us updated on this. Article taken from
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Anonymous 8 Jun, 2014
Quoting: omer666
Quoting: AnonymousAt the same time, I still don't really care if Nvidia (or anyone else) sticks to proprietary drivers, I just care about the result, if it works well then I'm happy.
Well, I am an nVidia customer, I run Arch Linux, and as such, I would REALLY want them to go open source, to the extent that I even consider going AMD in a few years if things keep on going that way. There are several open source improvements as of lately that really need vendors to clarify their position. For example, it is important for nVidia to do something about KMS and Wayland. We just CAN'T do without Wayland in the future (or MIR, whatever...). As time goes by, Flash slowly disappears, Mozilla's Shumway continues to improve towards its final state, Intel and AMD will soon work better than ever on open source only systems. We finally have the opportunity to run fully open source OS, nVidia needs to do something about this, because if they don't, I'll switch to something else. I don't expect games to be open source because they are works of art and include a part of intellectual propriety, which makes the whole thing much harder to sort out. But for a damn driver... come on ! New versions still break things badly, on GNOME desktop as well as KDE, things that could have been prevented by publishing the damn source code.

Well, so far their Linux drivers been really good, when it comes to performance, on Valve games they are mostly on pair with the Windows ones for me. However if that changes in the future or AMD simply gets ahead of the game, I will most likely switch. I don't understand the Wayland reference, I though there was a problem with Mir (lack of support).
My guess is the reason why their drivers are not open source is because they include some of Nvidia's technology, which they want to keep for them self.
Cestarian 8 Jun, 2014
This is an interesting development for open source drivers. Good thing for people with Intel and intergrated AMD cards (You shouldn't use a dedicated AMD card on Linux as is, that's just bad luck)

Speaking of which I have two laptops which can both benefit from this. Cool :)
E911 9 Jun, 2014
I just bought a Nvidia GTX 760 Ti SC last month.

All my previous cards have been nVidia for the last 10 years because of their Linux support.

I nearly bought a new AMD R9 270X but the YouTube videos of AMD on Linux put me off for 2014. The wife & little brothers Linux Gaming PCs need a upgrade soon so if AMD has a 95% open source drive in about a Year I'll totally buy in.

You hear that AMD? I want to buy stuff - but you need to make it superior to nVidia by pushing your Open Source Linux Driver first! Then, my next PC will be a AMD CPU, AMD Motherboard & NorthBridge Chipset and AMD Video Card. You want my money? Cuz this is how you get my money.
Anonymous 9 Jun, 2014
Quoting: SaleckThey could rename it Black Mesa while they're at it :)
They already have Black Mesa and now they need another one Mesa and maybe one XEN to summon Vortiguants to us
PublicNuisance 9 Jun, 2014
I may prefer DRM free but I will never talk down about Valve. They do a lot for PC Gaming as a whole. Kudos to them for helping out even more.
FutureSuture 9 Jun, 2014
Quoting: Guest(You shouldn't use a dedicated AMD card on Linux as is, that's just bad luck)
That really isn't true, though.
Hamish 9 Jun, 2014
Another AMD FUD thread which is off topic and was mostly based on ignorance of the fact that AMD actually does provide support for their FOSS driver (and have been doing so since acquiring ATI in 2007) and even have plans to greater utilize its potential.

As for this move by Valve, I of course do applaud it and feel no shame in doing so. I criticize them heavily on the DRM front and anything else I object to them doing, but I am perfectly content to praise them when they do something praiseworthy. That being said, this is not charity as building up the Linux graphics infrastructure is something Valve needs to make SteamOS successful, which is a perfectly valid reason for contributing but is not different than Red Hat or anyone other vendor funding FOSS graphic development for their own purposes.

And as someone who has been using my current dedicated Radeon HD 4670 with the FOSS drivers since 2011 with great success, I must say my luck must be pretty damn good then.
mirv 9 Jun, 2014
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I'm still brushing up on everything Mesa (only got into properly once GL 3.3 was fully supported), but it seems this is an attempted replacement for current parsers & Mesa shader stack. Well, LunarGLASS has been around a little bit, but for Valve to fund them over "generic" Mesa, I do wonder at something else.
They're doing this for business motivations, and I do recall some mentions from the Steam Dev Days about wanting to provide shaders without full sources. That's not a part of the OpenGL spec, so perhaps this is an attempt to side-step the issue. Or that could just be me and a tin foil hat.

Please note that radeonsi should already be using llvm in shader code generation, but I think drivers for other (earlier) cards do not (at least not with Mesa).
spy 10 Jun, 2014
bad choice... llvm is a super c++ object-orientish kludge, the academic case of why *NOT* c++... really bad choice. Should be in plain C.
fly 10 Jun, 2014
Quoting: mirvThey're doing this for business motivations, and I do recall some mentions from the Steam Dev Days about wanting to provide shaders without full sources. That's not a part of the OpenGL spec, so perhaps this is an attempt to side-step the issue.

I think you are right... this may be one of the "underlying" reasons to do so. To have a byte code like java to be able to do proprietary shaders.

Quoting: mirvPlease note that radeonsi should already be using llvm in shader code generation, but I think drivers for other (earlier) cards do not (at least not with Mesa).

You are right, radeonsi uses llvm as a shader compiler. There is a r600 llvm backend, but it's cra.. Since llvm is a massive bloat, that's not going to end well. llvm s not worth it's complexity.
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