Mesa 22.1 brings significant improvements to ray tracing

Mesa 22.1 has been published as stable to continue with the evolution of the stack in charge of supplying the drivers of the user space in Linux , yes, with the obvious exception of NVIDIA, whose proprietary driver goes free when it comes to complying with the standards .

We start with what’s new in Mesa 22.1 by mentioning RADV, the Vulkan community driver for Radeon graphics and one of the Steam Deck engines. Here we find the elimination of primitive rays to contribute to the improvement of support for ray tracing, a technology that was presented a few years ago as a revolution in the video game sector, although its existence dates back to earlier times. Continuing the same, RADV ray tracing support for Doom Eternal and KHR_ray_query support have been advanced.

RADV continues to gain prominence by gaining Dynamic Variable Rate Shading (VRS) support for the purpose of improving power savings on the Steam Deck , as Valve has been the main contributor driver. Hopefully this improvement can also be taken advantage of at least by laptop models that are supported by an AMD APU, although for now, if they work on laptops, they must have RDNA 2 graphics.

And we make the leap to Intel, the other big brand that relies on the standard Linux graphics stack. On this front we find more mature support for Intel Arc Alchemist , Intel’s first generation of dedicated consumer graphics, and the addition of support for Arctic Sound M, a line of dedicated graphics geared toward the professional market. Added to the above is the addition of a small OpenCL compiler that will be used by Intel’s ray tracing implementation and improved OpenGL compatibility support in the Crocus driver.

Mesa 22.1 brings significant improvements to ray tracing

This time we have things for NVIDIA, more specifically OpenGL support for Nouveau, the Open Source and alternative driver for the green giant’s graphics. In Mesa 22.1 we have NIR usage by default on GeForce 6, 7 and 8 graphics, something that should improve their shader build stack.

Breaking away from the x86 spectrum, Lavapipe, a software (processor) implementation of Vulkan, now complies with the API version 1.3 specification. Zink, an OpenGL driver on top of Vulkan, has received a large number of fixes, while the Raspberry Pi OpenGL V3D driver has as of this release an on-disk shader cache.

Mesa 22.1 has also brought some interesting things to WSL , most notably the Dozen (dzn) merge for Vulkan support over Direct3D 12 and a path from Direct3D 12 itself that now spans up to OpenGL version 4.2 .

Mesa 22.1 can be installed through the compilation of its source code, a route that for most is not very practical and carries risks, so it is recommended to use a rolling release and bleeding edge distribution such as Arch Linux, Manjaro or Gentoo . If you have a little patience, it should arrive in Fedora 35 and 35 as a standard update, while Ubuntu users have stable and fresh .

Despite not having as much prominence as Linux, the reality is that Mesa can become an even more critical component than the kernel itself in contexts such as gaming . Full details of this release are available in the official announcement and release notes .

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