Mesa Driver updates for Steam Deck

With playing games on the Steam Deck, the shader cache can make or break how smooth a game is. Unfortunately, even with this, some games have slight stuttering issues that can definitely be felt without making the game unplayable. Luckily, this could be completely eliminated soon with the next stable update to the Mesa 23.1 graphics driver!

According to an article on Phoronix, written by Michael Larabel, Samuel Pitoiset from Valve's Linux graphics driver team has enabled the graphics pipeline library "GPL" support by default with the RADV Vulkan driver. Enabling this pipeline library allows for separate compilations of graphics pipelines, which then link together at the final stage to create an executable pipeline. This allows for greater pipeline re-use and will help significantly with load times and stutters in games using DirectX 11 and below. Unfortunately, this won’t help with games using DirectX 12 due to it not being included with vkd3d (thank you Sjknight413 for catching this one).

Before this, we were able to use the launch option RADV_PERFTEST=gpl to enable this, but with the new update, it won't be necessary anymore. Now that it has been deemed good enough by the team, the setting will be enabled by default and should help game performance.

But that's not all! Another article from Phoronix posted earlier today, written again by Michael Larabel, has confirmed that a set of patches implemented will rework the Vulkan pipeline cache for the Mesa RADV driver, reducing single-file disk-cache by around 60% in size. The Steam Deck uses single file caches, so this is a HUGE help for us Deck users, especially those who have the 64gb version. More details on this are available via the patches' merge request.

It is projected that the stable update for Mesa 23.1, which should include both of these, will be pushed out in late May or early June. Regardless, these are fantastic updates to the Mesa driver and will greatly improve the Steam Deck experience!

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Noah Kupetsky
A lover of gaming since 4, Noah has grown up with a love and passion for the industry. From there, he started to travel a lot and develop a joy for handheld and PC gaming. When the Steam Deck released, it just all clicked.
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