New graphics driver Intel Xe Linux Kernel to replace “i915” for future GPUs

Intel’s open source engineers are hard at work developing a new graphics driver to replace the twenty-year-old i915 driver.

Intel’s open source i915 graphics driver will be replaced by a new Xe-based graphics core for better optimization and broader adoption over previous architectures.

The i915 graphics driver was initially introduced during the 915G Northbridge chipset generation. Now, developers are looking at updating the i915 graphics core with an Xe-based kernel graphics driver that will help support Intel integrated and discrete graphics cards with an estimated launch as soon as next year.

The new DRM (Direct Display Manager) driver will start supporting Xe graphics and 12th Gen graphics and will continue to support the i915 driver once the new driver is installed. We hope that the latest graphics driver will be more efficient and streamlined for the current generation of graphics and in the near future without having to be replaced for another number of generations.

Developers are looking forward to the new Xe-based driver on iGPUs for Tiger Lake and higher along with dGPUs already on the market. The new driver will allow for improved TTM memory management and DRM scheduling for the AMDGPU and other secondary areas. Additionally, the new driver will work alongside Intel’s Iris Gallium3D and ANV Vulkan drivers with possible future support with Mesa3D, according to Michael Larabelle of Phoronix. OpenCL’s new NEO compute stack will be supported, and one API Level Zero along with the others mentioned.

New graphics driver Intel Xe Linux Kernel that will be replaced "i915" For future GPUs 1

The RFC patch string was released today, and MR reports that it “works enough to run GNOME, the browser, OpenGL games, and Vulkan games.”[…]“.” There are also reported issues with the new MR, which is being investigated, so we’ll see a fix soon.

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Image source: Mesa GitLab.

Michael Larabelle states that the new Intel Xe-developed graphics driver will benefit the company’s current and upcoming processors as improvements to the code include several Intel CPU architectures, including Arm and x86_64 chipsets, allowing for better communication between architectures. It is likely that after several more generations, the i915 driver will fall out of use once other generations adopt the new Xe graphics driver.

News sources: Phoronix, Linux kernel, and Mesa

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