Vulkan For The Older Raspberry Pi

You’d be forgiven for thinking that the newer Raspberry Pi 4 gets all the love. For instance, the Raspberry Pi Foundation is working on drivers for the GPU to  support the Vulkan 3D graphics API.

But those of you with crusty old Pi boards shouldn’t despair. [Martin Thomas], a  developer working for Nvidia has produced a driver in his spare time that brings Vulkan to the Broadcom VideoCore IV. He’s hailed it as the first low-level driver for this GPU, and shown it running Quake III on a Pi 3.

Technically it’s not officially Vulkan as it doesn’t have all the required standards conformance, but it’s as near as possible given the limitations of the hardware. Full instructions for building the driver and for installing the Vulkan loader are given in the repository, so it should be possible for tinkerers to have a try. This is likely to be of most interest to gamers as many game engines support Vulkan.

The Pi 4 might be about to take the family further in a 64-bit direction, but this proves that there’s life in the old dogs yet.

7 thoughts on “Vulkan For The Older Raspberry Pi

  1. I like how it looks almost as good as Mechwarrior 2 on an S3 Virge.

    Are Pi 3s really that crusty though? It seems like they’re still cranking them out, or at least some vendors have huge excess inventory to shift still.

    1. > Are Pi 3s really that crusty though?

      Released February 2016, the same month Vulkan itself was. The Pi 3 was a big deal because it could actually do Quake III in a playable framerate.

      The Pi3 is a bit weak for gaming, though still great for basic media, servers, low-power workstations, and embedded systems.

  2. Can this be used for Desktop and Browser Hardware Acceleration or is it only for Gaming? How difficult would it be to get a hardware accelerated desktop and browser? Is the OpenGL driver still experimental after all this time? Those two things are alot more important to me than gaming, and it will make the old Raspberry Pi 3B feel much faster for everyday use and web browsing.

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