If you’re running an Intel Raptor Lake processor with integrated graphics and the latest Intel Arc Graphics discrete graphics under Linux, you’re relying on the Intel “i915” DRM kernel graphics driver, which, as the name suggests, is the old 915G from nearly 20 years ago Graphics driver for the chipset. Recently, Intel released a new “Xe” kernel graphics driver to support modern Xe graphics hardware (Tigerlake integrated graphics and newer versions of Intel discrete graphics products).
Intel engineers sent this RFC series of patches with the Xe driver code currently in progress, this new driver codebase also allows Intel to use more common elements around TTM memory management, the DRM scheduler adapted from the AMDGPU driver, and other common elements. Multi-shared DRM/kernel infrastructure.
Xe graphics driver focuses on the design of Gen12/ Xe and future hardware product improvement drivers, But the driver is not production ready, so The i915 driver will continue to exist in the kernel.For areas such as display processing, Intel’s Xe drivers are working to share code with the current well-behaved i915 driver and reduce the risk of degraded hardware support. In userspace, Intel’s Iris Gallium3D driver and ANV Vulkan driver will work with this new Xe kernel driver – there is tentative Mesa support in a merge request to add compatibility with the new DRM kernel driver sex.
Overall, this is an exciting development for Intel’s Linux graphics drivers. Having a modern in-kernel graphics driver allows Intel to focus on Gen12/Xe graphics and newer feature development, allowing for more in-kernel graphics driver/DRM code reuse and more optimizations. As an added bonus, this Xe driver is designed with multi-CPU architecture support in mind – it is actively tested on x86_64 and Arm. Compared to the days of integrated graphics on x86 CPUs, there are now available Intel discrete GPUs, and this new driver acknowledges this and aims to be cross-architecture friendly.
In addition, code released in 2023 will support the Xe kernel graphics driver as well as the NEO compute stack and oneAPI zero-level support for OpenCL. For running with the Intel Mesa driver, the Mesa merger says the Xe graphics driver is “powerful enough to run Gnome, browsers, OpenGL games, Vulkan games, but crashes and bugs will occur.”
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