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Steam Beta adds Vulkan shader processing

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Valve has enabled the next step towards making Steam games on Linux run smoother in the latest Steam Beta release.

This is something Valve has been working towards for some time now, as the Steam Client has been able to download pre-compiled GPU shaders, which you might have seen when something pops up in your Steam Downloads with an OpenGL and Vulkan icon below.

In the latest Steam Beta from May 25, it wasn't actually mentioned but there's a new option you can enable in the Shader Pre-Caching settings to "Allow background processing of Vulkan shaders". So it will process in the background and then when you go to click play, if it's not done on that particular title it should then kick into full-gear and attempt to process before loading the game. For those interested in a little background, it's using the Fossilize library and Vulkan layer which you can find on Valve's GitHub.

Note: Right now on NVIDIA the it seems the main processing will only use 1 core due to an issue, hopefully that will be solved soon. On AMD it's able to use multiple threads when it needs to. It appears you can tweak background thread count by going to "steam://open/console" and tweaking the "unShaderBackgroundProcessingThreads" var, but do so at your own risk.

The result should be that you see much improved performance. We're not talking a boost to the maximum framerate but reducing overall stutter. Something that has been a big problem in some games. As the idea is that instead of the game building it all up as it's playing, it's got it all ready for you when you hit play and this applies to both native/supported titles and Proton.

It doesn't just do it for installed games, it will do it as you're downloading them too, so by the time you've finished downloading it might even be all ready.

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
Tags: Beta, Steam, Update, Vulkan
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34 comments
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stan 26 May
When they first introduced this shader caching/sharing thing Steam started to download hundreds of megabytes of shaders… not a very slight increase in disk and bandwidth usage, no. So I disabled it right away…
rkfg 26 May
stanWhen they first introduced this shader caching/sharing thing Steam started to download hundreds of megabytes of shaders… not a very slight increase in disk and bandwidth usage, no. So I disabled it right away…
If you prefer stutter and freezes every time something new appears on screen then yeah. But I don't think it's worth it. If you play games with a lot of shaders (= AAA games) you'd better invest into a bigger and faster SSD because the rest of your hardware should already be quite good. Honestly, bad first time experience isn't worth the saved disk space.
stan 26 May
rkfgIf you prefer stutter and freezes every time something new appears on screen then yeah. But I don't think it's worth it. If you play games with a lot of shaders (= AAA games) you'd better invest into a bigger and faster SSD because the rest of your hardware should already be quite good. Honestly, bad first time experience isn't worth the saved disk space.
No, I don’t have that problem. And I have 5TB of SSD for games.
rkfg 26 May
stan
rkfgIf you prefer stutter and freezes every time something new appears on screen then yeah. But I don't think it's worth it. If you play games with a lot of shaders (= AAA games) you'd better invest into a bigger and faster SSD because the rest of your hardware should already be quite good. Honestly, bad first time experience isn't worth the saved disk space.
No, I don’t have that problem. And I have 5TB of SSD for games.
It depends on the game and mostly applies to non-native ones. If you don't play them probably you're fine. But some games stutter much more than the others and if you have plenty of space why not download those caches? Also you will help other players by uploading your cache back. It's like torrents but 100% legal!
I don't really understand how it works but I'm always happy to see enhancements to gaming on Linux. Thanks for the write-up.
TheSHEEEP 27 May
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It would be nice if they added a better indicator of how long the process takes, though.
I've had the bar fill pretty quickly until the last "chunk". And then nothing happened for a minute - so then I just cancelled, the game didn't stutter anyway to begin with.


Last edited by TheSHEEEP on 27 May 2020 at 4:03 pm UTC
The_Aquabat 28 May
is there a way to store the cache in a specific device I don't store all my games on a ssd.
AwesamLinux 28 May
Very exciting stuff, this will really help out with many recent AAA games. If I update the GPU drivers does it need to process all the shaders again?
tuubi 29 May
AwesamLinuxVery exciting stuff, this will really help out with many recent AAA games. If I update the GPU drivers does it need to process all the shaders again?
Seems so. But it isn't much of a problem when it happens in the background, and only takes up one core.
AwesamLinux 29 May
@tuubi I guess that is to be expected. Not a big deal but it takes a while with lots of games installed. So I will probably switch to using Mesa drivers that don't update daily :P
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