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The Zink driver for OpenGL over Vulkan shows good performance on NVIDIA

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Recently developer Mike Blumenkrantz wrote an interesting post in regards to a future upgrade to Zink, the driver that provides an OpenGL implementation on top of Vulkan and the performance with it is looking impressive.

The new upgrade coming is called Copper. To keep it simple enough for most readers, it will allow Zink to avoid existing problems with the way the driver works and get rendering done more directly. The result of it has been shown off today, where Blumenkrantz tested the newer work with the NVIDIA 495.44 driver on an RTX 2070 and benchmarking Feral Interactive's port of Tomb Raider.

Interestingly, it seems later NVIDIA drivers don't quite render Tomb Raider correctly, even so the performance seems acceptable to test against (and if it did 100% render, performance might even be lower). The results speak for themselves on this one. First up the port with OpenGL:

And then when run through Zink:

Blimey. The average FPS went from 121.3 to 151. That's not exactly a small increase. As Blumenkrantz explains though, that performance difference is not currently likely to be matched in other games but it at least shows exactly how impressive Zink is.

Since everyone is going in with Vulkan now though, eventually OpenGL would probably be deprecated and not see much in the way of fixes or improvements. Eventually then perhaps, we might end up seeing Zink as the better way to run things that use OpenGL, even officially by GPU vendors. The future for Linux gaming certainly is interesting.

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
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22 comments
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Ehvis 18 Nov
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Since everyone is going in with Vulkan now....


Only games. There is a whole world out there that is not games and I don't see that world switching any time soon. If at all.
mirv 18 Nov
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Quoting: Ehvis 
Since everyone is going in with Vulkan now....


Only games. There is a whole world out there that is not games and I don't see that world switching any time soon. If at all.

Only games, except for small little extras like Adobe Premiere Rush, or Autodesk Fusion 360. Unimportant, I suppose.

(end sarcasm)

For any 3D graphics API, the headlines are almost always going to be games. They catch the news. Vulkan has a lot more than just features for games however, and is being used in industrial applications right now. It's also starting to creep around in mobile phones for UI rendering.

--edit: Vulkanised 2021 has some showcases of non-gaming usage of Vulkan. Adobe & Autodesk get a mention in there, and there's a whole talk about NAP Framework (used to help choreograph lighting for performances).


Last edited by mirv on 18 November 2021 at 2:39 pm UTC
Swamper 18 Nov
Quoting: EhvisOnly games. There is a whole world out there that is not games and I don't see that world switching any time soon. If at all.

Maybe they will, but not in the way we wish for or think they will?
22 years ago I forecasted that Linux would take over the world. I thought it would on desktop. Instead it did everywhere else.

Let's just say that it might be that not only Steam finds its way to Linux on gaming...
Linux is a great choice for companies that wants to make something that just works.
Ehvis 18 Nov
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Quoting: mirvOnly games, except for small little extras like Adobe Premiere Rush, or Autodesk Fusion 360. Unimportant, I suppose.

(end sarcasm)

Not to burst your bubble, but games aren't important. If the ability to play games ends tomorrow, most of the world would go on if nothing happened. If the ability to use opengl ended tomorrow, the consequences would be catastrophic. Almost everything you use in daily life is in some way tied to software that uses opengl and most people haven't even heard of the programs (or the companies that make them). So no, OpenGL won't go anywhere because it's simply too important.

Edit: I suppose you agree going by your sarcasm quote. But Adobe/Autodesk weren't really the best examples for sarcasm :)


Last edited by Ehvis on 18 November 2021 at 2:49 pm UTC
mirv 18 Nov
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Quoting: Ehvis
Quoting: mirvOnly games, except for small little extras like Adobe Premiere Rush, or Autodesk Fusion 360. Unimportant, I suppose.

(end sarcasm)

Not to burst your bubble, but games aren't important. If the ability to play games ends tomorrow, most of the world would go on if nothing happened. If the ability to use opengl ended tomorrow, the consequences would be catastrophic. Almost everything you use in daily life is in some way tied to software that uses opengl and most people haven't even heard of the programs (or the companies that make them). So no, OpenGL won't go anywhere because it's simply too important.

Edit: I suppose you agree going by your sarcasm quote. But Adobe/Autodesk weren't really the best examples for sarcasm :)

Pretty sure my sarcasm went soaring overhead.

The non-gaming world that's not going to be going anywhere...is starting to embrace Vulkan. It won't exactly switch overnight, and there is going to be a lot of software that relies upon OpenGL for a long, long time (there are still applications out there relying on OpenGL 1.x), but as I pointed out there are non-gaming applications starting to use Vulkan.

There have been a whole slew of Vulkan extensions aimed specifically at video streaming and closed circuit security monitor setups.

The only reason OpenGL is so entrenched is because there wasn't an alternative on non-Windows systems (*nix systems are surprisingly common in industrial areas). There is now, and it is being used in new software. Which makes your whole original comment basically false.


Last edited by mirv on 18 November 2021 at 3:03 pm UTC
Ehvis 18 Nov
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Quoting: mirvPretty sure my sarcasm went soaring overhead.

It did as mentioned in the edit.

Quoting: mirvThe non-gaming world that's not going to be going anywhere...is starting to embrace Vulkan. It won't exactly switch overnight, and there is going to be a lot of software that relies upon OpenGL for a long, long time (there are still applications out there relying on OpenGL 1.x), but as I pointed out there are non-gaming applications starting to use Vulkan.

I don't think this is going to be the case. Sure some programs that rely on flashy graphics may make the switch. But most of those programs that still use OpenGL1/2 have no need for pbr shaders or gigabytes of textures. They just colour based representations of limited detail. Why would they want to deal with Vulkan? It's a complication without benefit.
Liam Dawe 18 Nov
I'm pretty sure you guys still got the point I was making. All future stuff is going to Vulkan, we're not talking years old stuff here that's still with OpenGL, which is where Zink will come in...
mylka 18 Nov
i guess windows version+proton is still faster than zink, right?
mirv 18 Nov
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Quoting: Ehvis
Quoting: mirvPretty sure my sarcasm went soaring overhead.

It did as mentioned in the edit.

Quoting: mirvThe non-gaming world that's not going to be going anywhere...is starting to embrace Vulkan. It won't exactly switch overnight, and there is going to be a lot of software that relies upon OpenGL for a long, long time (there are still applications out there relying on OpenGL 1.x), but as I pointed out there are non-gaming applications starting to use Vulkan.

I don't think this is going to be the case. Sure some programs that rely on flashy graphics may make the switch. But most of those programs that still use OpenGL1/2 have no need for pbr shaders or gigabytes of textures. They just colour based representations of limited detail. Why would they want to deal with Vulkan? It's a complication without benefit.

To be fair, non-gaming is not limited to really old OpenGL, and nor does it mean no updates (updates being a reason to introduce Vulkan).

I did actually ask during an event a question related to dynamic data sets and Vulkan for reasons of CAD programs, level editors, etc. One of the things about Vulkan is that much of the earlier information was focused on putting data onto the GPU and rendering it over & over again (because efficiency), but that doesn't help much for transient data sets where even good old fashioned glVertex3f was the best way to supply it (even nvidia had some early demos around this very concept). So absolutely old software that someone might not want to change to Vulkan will exist, and Zink will cover scenarios like that.

But.

Hardware moves on. GPU architectures do not match OpenGL. It's not only about flashy graphics, but raw performance will be superior for anything written in mind with how the hardware works. That alone will drive a lot of companies to switch to Vulkan.
Liam Dawe 18 Nov
Quoting: mylkai guess windows version+proton is still faster than zink, right?
I'm certainly curious on it. However, I can't imagine the difference being too much, considering the high performance already shown for Zink here and they're both translating one API to the same Vulkan.
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