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Nvidia Optimus: The End for nvidia on linux laptops?

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  • Nvidia Optimus: The End for nvidia on linux laptops?

    I have been waiting for an asus laptop to be released (the UL30Jt), and now the specs show that it uses optimus. There's more and more laptops with nvidia optimus being announced and coming out.

    This got me poking around, and, as it has been discussed on other threads, nvidia's Aaron Plattner has stated (source):
    We have no plans to support Optimus on Linux at this time.
    What does this mean? With optimus (as far as I could find out and as stated by Dave Arlie) there will be no way to physically connect the nvidia card to the laptop panel or other outputs. Because really, when it is working, there's no need to.

    So we know that going forward almost all of intel's processors will feature integrated graphics, except from very-high-end. If optimus really performs as well as nvidia presents, there won't be any reason to not have it, except on high-end gamer laptops and such.

    Put all of these together and you get a very bleak picture: most, if not all new latops will probably have optimus, and that's the end of the line for nvidia on linux laptops. You might as well throw a rock inside your laptop case and it will perform the same.

    These prospects scare me a lot. I am a big nvidia fan (I have a crapton of nvidia cards, from riva tnt's to 9400M's and not-M's), and their linux support is very good in terms of performance, vdpau works great, etc etc, but I'm afraid that soon we won't be able to have any nvidia support on laptops.

    Just wanted to get this out there, hoping that I am wrong or that we can do something to change this.

  • #2
    Well basically it is very unlikely that this will ever work because intel drivers prefer kms, but nvidia drivers need ums. So even when you correctly switch the driver this will not be optimal. Just use always nvidia or always intel. The ati switching from onboard to dedicated at least runs with the same driver.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Kano View Post
      Well basically it is very unlikely that this will ever work because intel drivers prefer kms, but nvidia drivers need ums. So even when you correctly switch the driver this will not be optimal. Just use always nvidia or always intel. The ati switching from onboard to dedicated at least runs with the same driver.
      The problem is: I don't think you will be able to switch. If they only wire the outputs to the IGP and use the nvidia gpu to generate stuff and write it back to the IGP, you won't be able to even just do a static bios/whatever/switch. You'll be stuck with intel and won't have a choice.

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      • #4
        All i3/i5 laptops with nvidia gfx can basically use optimus on win, but on linux you just install nvidia driver - no problem usually. Just forget to switch anything

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        • #5
          So if I understand this correctly to switch you would need to install/uninstall the NVIDIA driver every time? Maybe there is a simpler way (moving libraries or using alternatives)?

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Kano View Post
            All i3/i5 laptops with nvidia gfx can basically use optimus on win, but on linux you just install nvidia driver - no problem usually. Just forget to switch anything
            Kano, what you're saying is that it will still be possible to connect the gpu directly to the laptop panel or other outputs. But what it seems to me is that they will be removing that possibility, because they do not need it with optimus.

            I don't see manufacturers leaving that feature in out of the goodness of their hearts if windows does not make use of it.

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            • #7
              Sadly it seems it is the end indeed.
              I always bought NVidia-powered laptops for their great Linux support but I really feel cheated with my new Asus U30JC where I cannot use AT ALL the Nvidia GPU I paid for... they must be a lot of people in this case, it's hard to know in advance that Optimus is not the latest marketing term for basic GPU switching (hybrid power, etc... which work on Linux) but a complete new kind of wiring

              Really hope NVidia will pull something out of his hat in a next driver release.
              I don't care about proper Optimus support, as in dynamic adaptive switching of the GPU used to render things, I just want to be able to switch to the NVidia for everything.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by gamesfan View Post
                Sadly it seems it is the end indeed.
                I always bought NVidia-powered laptops for their great Linux support but I really feel cheated with my new Asus U30JC where I cannot use AT ALL the Nvidia GPU I paid for... they must be a lot of people in this case, it's hard to know in advance that Optimus is not the latest marketing term for basic GPU switching (hybrid power, etc... which work on Linux) but a complete new kind of wiring

                Really hope NVidia will pull something out of his hat in a next driver release.
                I don't care about proper Optimus support, as in dynamic adaptive switching of the GPU used to render things, I just want to be able to switch to the NVidia for everything.
                Damn. Nvidia, what are you doing!?

                I hope Nvidia isn't pulling a "Creative Labs" on us... Once the indisputable #1 for all things pc sound, they're just a bunch of nobodies these days, for making stupid after stupid decisions like this.

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                • #9
                  I've sent email to Asus support, the best answer I could get that no BIOS option is available to do switching...
                  I've also posted weeks ago on the 'official' NVidia Linux Support forum here :
                  http://www.nvnews.net/vbulletin/showthread.php?t=152049
                  Still no answer from anyone at Nvidia...

                  I'm opening a new thread to ask them to clarify their position about Optimus on Linux :
                  http://www.nvnews.net/vbulletin/show...02#post2291702


                  Please voice yourself up there since there's much more probability it will be seen by NVidia people there than over here at Phoronix

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                  • #10
                    Clarification needed

                    I've sent email to Asus support, the best answer I could get that no BIOS option is available to do switching...
                    I've also posted weeks ago on the 'official' NVidia Linux Support forum here :
                    http://www.nvnews.net/vbulletin/showthread.php?t=152049
                    Still no answer from anyone at Nvidia...

                    I'm opening a new thread to ask them to clarify their position about Optimus on Linux :
                    http://www.nvnews.net/vbulletin/show...02#post2291702


                    Please voice yourself up there since there's much more probability it will be seen by NVidia people there than over here at Phoronix

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by gamesfan View Post
                      I've sent email to Asus support, the best answer I could get that no BIOS option is available to do switching...
                      I've also posted weeks ago on the 'official' NVidia Linux Support forum here :
                      http://www.nvnews.net/vbulletin/showthread.php?t=152049
                      Still no answer from anyone at Nvidia...

                      I'm opening a new thread to ask them to clarify their position about Optimus on Linux :
                      http://www.nvnews.net/vbulletin/show...02#post2291702


                      Please voice yourself up there since there's much more probability it will be seen by NVidia people there than over here at Phoronix
                      You're right. I hope nvidia can clarify this. If not, at least we could ask Michael to raise the visibility of this subject, so users at least know what to expect.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by [Knuckles] View Post
                        You're right. I hope nvidia can clarify this. If not, at least we could ask Michael to raise the visibility of this subject, so users at least know what to expect.
                        Very good idea indeed.
                        Until now, people expect good Linux support from Nvidia, I've been really surprised when I realized I could not use at all the GPU on my new "Optimus-disabled" Asus U30JC...
                        If I knew beforehand about this I might have gone for another NVidia-only model (at least, while they do still exist as you very well said... :/ ), so it would be nice for more people to know and not feel cheated after the fact.

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                        • #13
                          So, it seems Aaron Plattner has confirmed some of our fears:
                          Apparently, this depends on the laptop. Some laptops have a hardware mux that allows you to switch the display to the NVIDIA GPU, similarly to how the old Hybrid Graphics worked. On those laptops, there should be a BIOS setting.

                          On laptops that don't have that hardware mux (i.e. where the display is hard-wired to the Intel display engine), then you currently cannot use the NVIDIA GPU for display, though you should still be able to use it for CUDA and offscreen rendering.

                          We currently do not have plans to support display on Optimus systems where the display is connected to the Intel hardware, but as you said, it's something we'll probably end up having to look into in the future, to at least provide some basic display sharing. I can't promise anything, though.
                          I hope it really starts working again in the future. In the meantime, I would say avoid optimus unless you can try out the laptop and see that there is a bios option for choosing the nvidia gpu...

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                          • #14
                            Not wishing to be cynical or fanatic here, but,,, I would say avoid any graphics company that doesn't provide ANY form of open-source support. This wouldn't be such a big problem for ATI graphics for the simple reason someone would get it working in the Foss drivers even if AMD/ATI don't.

                            This kind of behaviour is, essentially, what RMS is referring to in his arguments about closed source software meaning accepting someone as your master.

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                            • #15
                              This is a very sad situation for people owning such laptops.

                              It was only a few days ago that people vehemently argued that Nvidia would never drop Linux support. Well, probably not completely, but there is always danger of ending in this sort of situation and having absolutely no way of using your hardware.

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