Skip to main content

Nvidia Engineer's Vulkan Driver For Raspberry Pi Runs Quake III Over 100 FPS at 720p

Raspberry Pi 3 B+ running Quake III

Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ running Quake III (Image credit: Martin Thomas/Twitter)

Earlier this year, the Raspberry Pi Foundation hooked up with Igalia to start development on an open-sourced Vulkan graphics driver for the Raspberry Pi. However, Martin Thomas, an engineer at Nvidia, beat them to the punch.

Thomas announced yesterday via his personal Twitter that his RPi-VK-Driver is ready for primetime. The talented engineer had been working on the Vulkan driver in his spare time for more than two years. 

Technically, Thomas' iteration isn't a Vulkan driver per se because it doesn't comply with the official standards established by The Khronos Group. Nonetheless, the resourceful developer produced a driver that adheres to the Vulkan parameters as much as possible, and as close as the hardware would permit it. There's just one limitation with the RPi-VK-Driver though. Unlike the official Vulkan driver that's still in the works, Thomas' version is only compatible with the Broadcom VideoCore IV GPU that's found inside the Raspberry Pi 1, 2, 3 and Zero devices.

See more

Thomas showed off the power of his RPi-VK-Driver with a Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ and Quake III Arena. The Broadcom VideoCore IV GPU, which is clocked at 250 MHz, runs the title at over 100 FPS on the 1,280 x 720 resolution. Thomas estimated that the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B will likely deliver around 70 FPS at a 1,920 x 1,080 resolution due to the hardware limitation.

In comparison to the OpenGL drivers, Thomas affirms that his RPi-VK-Driver offers improved memory management, and it's better at handling multi-threaded command submissions. The driver's other attributes include MSAA (multisample anti-aliasing) support, low level assembly shaders and performance counters.