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02 August 2011, 09:28

Mesa3D 7.11: improved open source 3D drivers for current graphics chips

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Cogs Ian Romanick has released version 7.11 of Mesa3D. As this is a "development release", users who require stability and reliability are advised to wait for version 7.11.1, or continue to use an older version. Mesa3D contains open source graphics drivers that are typically installed by default in Linux distributions to harness the 3D capabilities of graphics chips; these drivers use the Linux kernel's DRM/KMS drivers and co-operate with's driver for the X Server.

The Mesa 7.11 drivers for Radeon GPUs by AMD are the first to support the graphics core of the Llano family of processors that AMD introduced a few months ago. Further improvements and bug fixes affect the drivers for the Northern Island chips that are used on the Radeon HD 6000 series, and a rudimentary driver for the Cayman chips used on 6900 series cards. The default driver for the Radeon HD 2000 and subsequent generations of graphics hardware is now the r600g Gallium3D driver, rather than the older r600c.

The default driver for Intel graphics chips offers numerous improvements and bug fixes for the graphics chips used on the Sandy Bridge processors that Intel has incorporated into the current Core series CPUs. The driver is also said to support the graphics chip used by the Ivy Bridge CPUs that Intel is planning to introduce in early 2012.

In the Nouveau driver for NVIDIA GPUs, the developers have extended the support for Fermi graphics chips, which are used in the GeForce series 400 and 500 models. However, for the 3D driver to work, the system's kernel requires a piece of firmware. This firmware will become available in version 3.1 of the Linux kernel, which is currently in development and is expected to arrive in early October.

The new version of Mesa3D also enhances the GSLS compiler and supports a range of additional OpenGL commands – including various OpenGL 3.0 commands, although 3.0 is not yet fully implemented. Further details can be found in the release notes document in the docs directory of the Mesa3D 7.11 sources (direct download). The core Mesa library source is made available under the terms of the MIT license.


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