Graphics processing, and possibly machine learning applications, just took a step forward on the Raspberry Pi 4. In a blog post by Raspberry Pi CEO Eben Upton - that the popular single-board computer is now conformant with version 1.2 of the Vulkan graphics API.
Having hit version 1.0 in November 2020, and 1.1 in October 2021, version 1.2 integrates 23 frequently used Vulkan extensions into the standard, and is tantalizingly close to the latest version, 1.3, which was released in January.
The project to make the newest Pi boards (the Pi 4, 400, and Compute Module 4, as older models’ GPUs are not up to the job) conformant with Vulkan is actually carried out by open-source consultancy Igalia. The driver is written, and presented to Vulkan maintainer Khronos for approval. This time, Khronos said yes, a stamp of approval that should see a driver update in an upcoming OS release.
“All the changes required for this have already been merged in the upstream v3dv Mesa driver and will eventually be available in future Raspberry Pi OS updates,” says Iago Toral from Igalia. “Aside from Vulkan 1.2 core functionality, we have also been adding support for various other extensions, some of which are core in Vulkan 1.3, as well as many bugfixes and performance improvements.”
While this development doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll see games such as Hades or Path of Exile on the Pi 4, but it could lead to improvements in performance for applications such as Kodi, VLC or hardware accelerated web applications. Vulkan libraries also exist for machine learning, opening up new paths to training neural networks on Pi clusters.
Upton’s post also flags up a contribution from Roman Stratiienko adding support for Android to the driver. This opens the door for Android games to run on the Pi 4 via a port of Google’s operating system such as Lineage OS.
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Ian Evenden is a UK-based news writer for Tom’s Hardware US. He’ll write about anything, but stories about Raspberry Pi and DIY robots seem to find their way to him.