Raspberry Pi to Get Vulkan Graphics Driver (Eventually)

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Raspberry Pi, the popular single-board computers for makers, is getting an open-source version of the Vulkan graphics driver, The Raspberry Pi Foundation announced Friday. Vulkan is a cross-platform API that's supposed to enable improved graphics performance no matter what hardware it's running on. 

Companies like AMD, Arm, Intel and Nvidia have all released drivers that support the API; now the Raspberry Pi Foundation will follow in those companies' footsteps. As the announcement noted, the API should allow for better accomodation of "moderm GPUs and address common performance bottlenecks in OpenGL, providing graphics developers with new means to squeeze the best performance out of the hardware."

Just don't expect to use Vulkan on a Raspberry Pi anytime soon. (At least not via the official driver; several community-led projects have sought to bring support for the API to Raspberry Pi over the years.) Raspberry Pi Trading CEO Eben Upton in his blog post explained that things are only at the "start of development."  

"While there have been community efforts in the direction of Vulkan support (originally on VideoCore IV) as far back as 2018, Igalia has only been working on this new driver for a few weeks, and we still have a very long development roadmap ahead of us before we can put an actual driver in the hands of our users," Upton said. "So don’t hold your breath, and instead look forward to more news from us and Igalia as they make further development progress."

The news that Raspberry Pi will support Vulkan at some point in the future is still exciting, though, because it could help reduce the performance gap between these single-board computers and full-fledged PCs. Combine that with the Raspberry Pi's ability to run desktop operating systems on the devices, and it seems like big things are coming for this tiny computer. 

Nathaniel Mott
Freelance News & Features Writer

Nathaniel Mott is a freelance news and features writer for Tom's Hardware US, covering breaking news, security, and the silliest aspects of the tech industry.