An upcoming update to the open-source Steam Deck video driver will shrink shader cache files by about 60%, Valve confirms.
A recent report on Phoronix talks about the Mesa 23.1 update, which re-implements the RADV pipeline cache based on vk_pipeline_cache. There are probably a whole bunch of words in this sentence that don’t mean much to you – most importantly, Mesa is an OpenGL and Vulkan video driver that Valve, AMD, Intel, Microsoft, and others all contribute to and this change affects how the now widely used Vulkan driver caches files.
In the case of Steam Deck, Valve created large shader cache files for individual games that are loaded during the installation process, improving performance and helping to avoid game lags when compiling shaders. The downside to these shader caches is how much space they take up: potentially several gigabytes for large games. However, with the new Vulkan pipeline update, they will be much smaller.