Intel open-source engineers are working hard on developing a new graphics driver to replace the twenty-year-old i915 driver.
Intel open-source i915 graphics driver to be replaced with new, Xe-based graphics kernel for better optimization and broader adoption in previous architectures
The i915 graphics driver was initially introduced during the 915G Northbridge chipset generation. Now, developers are looking into updating the i915 graphics kernel with a Xe-based kernel graphics driver that will help support integrated and discrete Intel graphics cards with an estimated launch as quickly as next year.
This new DRM (Direct Rendering Manager) driver will begin supporting Xe graphics and 12th Generation graphics and will continue to support the i915 driver once the new manager is in place. The hope is that the latest graphics driver will be more efficient and streamlined for the current generation of graphics and into the near future without needing to be replaced for another number of generations.
Developers are eyeing the new Xe-based driver on the iGPUs for Tiger Lake and higher along with the dGPUs already on the market. The new driver will allow for improved management of TTM memory, AMDGPU's DRM scheduler, and other minor areas. Additionally, the new driver will work in tandem with Intel's Iris Gallium3D and ANV Vulkan drivers with possible future support with Mesa3D, reports Michael Larabel of the website Phoronix. The new NEO compute stack for OpenCL, and oneAPI Level Zero will be supported along with the others mentioned.
An RFC patch series was released today, and an MR reported being "functional enough to run GNOME, browser, OpenGL games, Vulkan games[...]." There are also reported issues with this new MR, which is being investigated, so we should see a fix soon.
Michael Larabel mentions that the new Intel Xe-developed graphics driver will benefit the current and upcoming company's processors as the optimizations to the code have included several Intel CPU architectures, including Arm and x86_64 chipsets, allowing for better communication between architectures. It is possible that after another few generations, the i915 driver will be retired from use once more generations adopt the new Xe graphics driver.