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OpenGL 4.6 Certified for Apple M1 and M2 Chips with Asahi Linux Driver

Khronos certifies Asahi’s open driver, setting a new standard for Apple M1/M2 graphics support with OpenGL 4.6 and ES 3.2.

In a significant breakthrough for the Apple M1 and M2 chip ecosystem, the open-source Asahi driver has received official certification for supporting OpenGL 4.6 and OpenGL ES 3.2. This development marks a substantial leap beyond Apple’s native graphics drivers, which currently only implement the OpenGL 4.1 specification.

Asahi’s accomplishment is particularly noteworthy as it becomes the first open driver to extend support to OpenGL 4.6, demonstrating its commitment to pushing the boundaries of graphics capabilities for Apple’s AGX GPUs.

Users can readily access the Asahi open-source driver as it comes packaged in driver packages available within the Fedora repositories. To enhance user experience, a specialized build named Fedora Asahi Remix 39 is designed explicitly for installation on systems powered by Apple ARM chips, ensuring seamless integration and optimal performance.

The Khronos Consortium, a pivotal player in graphics standards development, has officially recognized Asahi’s open driver for AGX GPUs in Apple M1 and M2 chips as fully compatible with OpenGL 4.6 and OpenGL ES 3.2 specifications. Successfully passing all tests from the Kronos Conformance Test Suite (CTS), Asahi’s open driver now joins the prestigious list of certified drivers.

Notably, Apple’s proprietary drivers for M1 and M2 chips are yet to achieve this certification, underlining the significance of Asahi’s accomplishment in meeting industry standards.

Screenshot of Blender running on Apple M1 on Fedora Linux 39

Despite some hardware limitations on the M1 GPU that hindered the implementation of OpenGL ES 3.2 and OpenGL 4.2, Asahi’s open driver ingeniously overcame these challenges. Missing functionalities, such as geometry shaders, tessellation, and transform feedback, were implemented using compute shaders. Additionally, cull distance interpolation and clip control were achieved through the vertex shader epilogue. This adaptive approach showcases Asahi Linux’s commitment to providing comprehensive support, even in the face of hardware constraints.

As the development of open drivers for Apple AGX GPUs progresses, the focus will shift towards supporting the Vulkan graphics API. Leveraging tested standard code used in drivers for OpenGL, this strategic move aims to enhance the graphics capabilities of Apple’s M1 and M2 chips, positioning them as formidable contenders in the ever-evolving landscape of GPU technologies.

For Apple M1 and M2 GPU chips, Asahi employs a two-pronged approach with the development of both the DRM driver (Direct Rendering Manager) drm-asahi for the Linux kernel and the user-space asahi driver for Mesa. The Rust language-driven kernel-level driver is purpose-built for future Vulkan API support, while the user-space interface optimally utilizes the UAPI provided by the new Intel Xe driver. This dual-driver strategy ensures a robust and comprehensive solution for users, complemented by a dedicated focus on compatibility and future advancements.

For more details about the implementation, visit the Alyssa Rosenzweig’s blog which is wonderful to read.

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