Mesa’s Radeon Vulkan RADV Driver Continues to Outperform AMDVLK for Linux RDNA2 Games

Last week, AMDVLK 2022.Q2.3 was released as an update to AMD’s official open-source Vulkan Linux driver and it noted performance improvements. Here are some new benchmarks with an AMD RDNA2 GPU to see how RADV continues to compete with – and generally outperform – AMD’s own official open source driver.

RADV as a Mesa Radeon Vulkan driver developed by engineers at Valve, Red Hat, Google and other community contributors continues to be the most popular driver choice for AMD GPU owners. RADV benefits from continuous performance improvements thanks to the multiple parties working on it, being part of Mesa, it is shipped by all major Linux distributions unlike AMDVLK, and over time it has proven to compete with Vulkan’s own driver AMD official.

AMDVLK continues to see routine code removals from AMD as its official open-source Vulkan Linux driver derived from the same sources as its proprietary Windows/Linux Vulkan driver. But with AMDVLK using the LLVM AMDGPU shader compiler rather than their in-house proprietary shader compiler, it continues to lack in some key areas such as the lack of Vulkan ray tracing support unlike their proprietary Windows/Linux driver. With AMDVLK 2022.Q2.3 having mentioned various gaming performance optimizations, I decided it was a good time to see how its performance compares to Mesa RADV.

For today’s tests I used a Radeon RX 6800 XT graphics card on an Ubuntu 22.04 Core i9 12900K desktop while testing Mesa 22.0.1 as shipped by Ubuntu 22.04 LTS, Mesa 22.2-dev week latest obtained easily using Oibaf PPA, and AMDVLK 2022.Q3.3 Driver Package using official AMD binaries released last week. No Radeon Software for Linux proprietary Vulkan driver testing was performed for this article, as AMD has not yet released a driver with official Ubuntu 22.04 LTS support.

A variety of Vulkan games were compared, including native/ported titles as well as Steam Play games using DXVK, etc. Let’s see how these two AMD open source Vulkan drivers currently compete on the Linux 5.18 kernel.

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Steven L. Nielsen