Intel wants to help Valve make Linux games possible

All help welcome. =)

The technology world is really undergoing a major transformation this year 2012. Two big companies have come together to make something work better and many others can benefit from this partnership.

Valve Software, which has already announced via Ubuntu, is concerned about open source video drivers. Last week they were with the Intel Open Technology team in Bellevenue to team up and work on the OpenGL renderer for Source Engine and the Intel MESA driver.

Ian Romanick of Intel Open-Source Technology Center wrote an article, The Zombies Cometh , counting some achievements of the Intel-Valve teams. Romanick shared that he and his team were in Bellevenue working with the Valve Linux team on Left 4 Dead 2. Check out some points from Romanick's article: (free translation and adaptation)

This was the most successful trip I've ever had. It was awesome working with the guys from Valve.

The goals included helping them to get god game performance better for our driver / hardware, figuring out where performance is missing and figuring out what OpenGL functions they want / need.

Some OpenGL optimizations were found in Source Engine Some OpenGL Source Engine optimizations were found when it came to buffer vertex management and where some shader recompilation was triggered for all drivers / hardware.

Intel Mesa developers have found where their driver really needs to be accelerated.

Intel-Linux engineers have access to Valve's Left 4 Dead 2 source code to help them with their optimization work.

Patches to improve the Intel Mesa DRI driver that Left 4 Dead 2 have already started to arrive.

The funny thing that Valve guys say the same about drivers. There have been a few times that we feel like they are trying to convince us that open source dr drivers are a good idea. We had to remind them that they were singing to the choir. Their problems with closed drivers (on all platforms) is that as a black box they have to play guessing games. There is no way for them to know how to change a particular setting that affects performance. If the performance gets worse. they will have no way of knowing why. If they can see where the time is going in the driver, they can make much more effective guesswork.

Valve has requested improvements to the implementation of the GL_ARB_debug_output extension for Mesa.

They are working on implementing smart vsync to get the best performance while trying to avoid the flicker effect (which gives the impression that the screen breaks in the middle in fast or very bright scenes).

With these two great teams coming together, we can expect AAA-rated AAA games running on Ubuntu. Valve's relationship with Intel was very promising in 2011, when Gabe Newell stated:

We have been using it (Sandy Bridge platform, second generation Intel Core iN processors) for a few months. Sandy Bridge really provides us with the great features and performance we need to develop great player experiences. Sandy Bridge can not only run today's games, but even the next generation of games. () It allows for a console experience on PCs.

This statement is not entirely true, as it is not possible to extract good quality graphics coupled with great resolutions in DirectX games, but in Valve's own games, nothing is to be desired for the powerful cards. I, with my Core i3 Sandy Bridge, can say with certainty that Portal 2 runs smooth, perfect, as if it were on a top of the line board.