Raspberry Pi 4: Higher-quality, faster graphics edge closer with Vulkan support via Mesa

Vulkan V3DV graphics are now part of the latest Mesa graphic stack for Raspberry Pi 4's Broadcom VideoCore GPU.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

Raspberry Pi 4 owners will be pleased to know that Vulkan support is one step closer thanks to the Vulkan driver, V3DV, being merged in the latest version of the Mesa graphic stack for the Raspberry Pi 4. 

As noted by Linux news site Phoronix, the V3DV driver has been under development for the past year to bring Vulkan support to newer Broadcom VideoCore GPU hardware, especially the Raspberry Pi 4. The V3DV driver has now mainlined in an upcoming version of Mesa, the open-source implementation of OpenGL and Vulkan. 

The Raspberry Pi Foundation contracted consulting firm Igalia to develop the V3DV Vulkan driver and announced upcoming Vulkan support for the Raspberry 4 at the beginning of the year

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The V3DV Vulkan driver promises higher-quality and faster graphics for the single-board computer, extending Vulkan support from already Android phones to the Raspberry Pi 4. However, at that stage the effort had only managed to get a Raspberry Pi to render an RGB triangle, but it was nonetheless a milestone.

"Don't hold your breath," Raspberry Pi Foundation co-founder Ebert Upton said at the time. 

On Tuesday, Igalia's Iago Toral, who's been working on the Mesa graphics driver stack for Raspberry Pi 4, announced that the driver has been merged with Mesa upstream, making it one of the official Vulkan Mesa drivers along with drivers for other graphics hardware. 

This move means V3DV will be part of all Mesa releases, and anyone who wants to test it can get it from the official Mesa repository

Toral added that the V3DV driver has now passed over 100,000 tests from the Khronos Conformance Test Suite for Vulkan 1.0 and has implemented the full Vulkan 1.0 API. 

However, he pointed out that more work needs to be done. 

"Although the CTS is a really complete test suite, it is not the same as a real use case. As mentioned in some of our updates, we have been testing the driver with Vulkan ports of the original Quake trilogy, but deeper and more detailed testing is needed," notes Toral.  

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After this has taken place, Toral plans to test the driver further and iron out bugs and performance issues. 

As noted by Phoronix, Mesa 20.3, the latest version of Mesa, is scheduled to be released as stable in early December and because it is part of Mesa, it's easier for Raspberry Pi Linux distributions to offer this Broadcom Vulkan driver. 


The V3DV driver has been tested with Vulkan ports of the original Quake trilogy.

Image: Raspberry Pi Foundation

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