Mesa 21.0.0-rc5 Is Released

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The Mesa 21 release-cycle got derailed after a strong rc4 on February 5th. It is now back on track with what will likely be the last release-candidate before the final Mesa 21.0 release. Mesa 21 will offer a ton of new features to AMD graphics card users, many performance improvements for Intel iGPUs and there's also early pieces of code for ray-tracing on Intels upcoming Xe HPG gaming GPUs.

Mesa-21-brw nir rt.jpg
compiler/brw_nir_rt.c in today's Mesa git tree. Intel involvement with accelerated ray-tracing is indicated.

The fifth and likely last release candidate before Mesa 21.0 is released got "very delayed". Mesa release manager and Intel employee Dylan Baker did not indicate why in the Mesa 21.0.0-rc5 release-announcement, but did indicate that this may be the last release-candidate before Mesa 21.0 final is released:

"This is very delayed, but mesa 21.0.0-rc5 is now available. RC5 has roughly two weeks of work in it, so there's a lot that's changed since RC4. We've got a few issues left open blocking the relase, but hopefully we can get those all taken care of by next week for a .0 release."

Dylan Baker on the mesa-announce mailinglist

Intel dominated with contributions to this release-candidate with Valve coming in at second place with Google not far behind. The AMD graphics team was no-where to be seen.

Mesa 21.0.0-rc5 developer scoreboard
team player score
supergoodcode Mike Blumenkrantz 6
The Khronos Group Ian Romanick 5
Intel graphics Jason Ekstrand 5
Microsoft Jesse Natalie 5
Collabora Alyssa Rosenzweig 4
Valve Timur Kristóf 4
Google Bas Nieuwenhuizen 4
Intel Dylan Baker 4
Google Eric Anholt 3
Valve Rhys Perry 3
France Simon Ser 2
Valve (and France) Samuel Pitoiset 2
Debian Giovanni Mascellani 2
Intel Lionel Landwerlin 2
Intel Anuj Phogat 2
IBM/RedHat Dave Airlie 2
Intel graphics team Caio Marcelo de Oliveira Filho 1
IBM/RedHat Adam Jackson 1
Collabora Anuj Phogat 1
Valve Daniel Schürmann 1
? Icecream95 1
Unknown (Formally Google) Ilia Mirkin 1
San Diego Community College Vinson Lee 1

Many Improvements For AMD Graphics Users

The severe lack of contributions from AMD to Mesa 21.0.0-rc5 does not mean there isn't plenty of new features for AMD users coming to Mesa 21. Sparse memory support, support for resizing the GPU memory bar, performance improvements for RX 6000 series GPUs, several extensions like VK_VALVE_mutable_descriptor_type and Rapid Packet Math support for the Radeon Vulkan (RADV) driver were merged to Mesa 21 earlier in the release-cycle. Mesa 21 will also offer AMD users profiler support (RGP), HEVC SAO encoding support, support for AV1 video decoding using the OpenMAX interface, performance improvements that help Counter-Strike a lot and buffer modifier support in the RadeonSI Gallium 3D (OpenGL) driver.

Initial Ray-Tracing Support For Intel Xe HPG GPUs

Mesa-21-brw disasm.jpg
Mesa 21 will check if Intel chips has_ray_tracing in intel/compiler/brw_disasm.c

Intel graphics users can look forward to a lot of performance improvements in both the Intel ANV (Vulkan) and Intel Iris (OpenGL) drivers when Mesa 21 is released.

The perhaps most interesting change to the Intel ANV Vulkan driver is the early somewhat expected Vulkan ray-tracing support that has been added during the Mesa 21 release-cycle. Ray-tracing will only be supported on Intels upcoming Xe HPG gaming GPUs. These graphics cards will apparently have special ray-tracing accelerators and devinfo->has_ray_tracing will apparently be a requirement for ray-tracing on Intel GPUs.

The Vulkan ray-tracing support for upcoming Intel GPUs is still far from being complete, but it is moving forward at a rather impressive rate.

Other Improvements

ARM support has improved a lot during the Mesa 21 release-cycle with big improvements to the Broadcom and Raspberry Pi drivers. Wayland WSI support has been added to the Broadcom V3DV Vulkan driver and OpenGL 3.3 is now supported on Freedreno.

OSMesa, for off-screen rendering, has been killed off. LLVMpipe has been the better way of doing software rendering with Mesa for years, so it is unlikely that anyone will miss or even notice that OSMesa has been removed.

Mesa 21.0 will be released towards the end of the month unless severe bugs are discovered in the next few days. You can acquire the source code for Mesa 21.0.0-rc5 from if you would like to compile it yourself for some reason. Most people are likely better off waiting until the final version is released and up-to-date Linux distributions add it to their repositories.

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