Intel and Valve collaborate to develop open source graphics drivers

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According to a blog post by Intel Software Engineer Ian Romanick, the Linux development teams from Intel and game developer Valve are collaborating to develop the open source drivers and the game engine for the forthcoming Linux port of first-person shooter game Left for Dead 2 (L4D2). Romanick said that the two parties met at Valve’s headquarters in Bellevue, Washington to track down performance bottlenecks in the game and driver code, and to investigate the potential requirements for further OpenGL features.

The developer described their meeting as “the most successful work trip I’ve ever had”. For example, he said that Intel helped the game developers find some performance bugs in their engine’s vertex buffer management, and that fixing these bugs will also benefit non-Intel GPUs. Romanick added that, in the Intel driver, the teams found problems that can cause increased CPU loads. Being able to access the source code of Valve’s game engine made their work a lot easier, he explained, because it gave them a simple way of analysing the drivers’ behaviour in different game scenarios. According to Romanick, adapting games to proprietary drivers (on all platforms) is much more complicated: they are like a blackbox, he said, adding that developers “have to play guess-and-check games” to optimise their code.

Just a few days ago, Valve officially announced that it is working to port its Steam game distribution platform and the Left 4 Dead 2 multi-player action game to Linux. At the same time, the company launched a new blog to keep enthusiasts up to date on the development of its Linux projects.

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