Nouveau NVIDIA Driver Can Be Faster With Linux 3.8
Written by Michael Larabel in Display Drivers on 2 January 2013. Page 5 of 5. 2 Comments

Warsow at 1920 x 1080 was still lacking any performance changes for this new Linux kernel.

Lastly, for the visually impressive Xonotic open-source FPS game, the performance was higher with the GeForce 9800GTX on the Linux 3.8 kernel compared to earlier releases. The lower-clocked NVIDIA GeForce 9800GT and GT 220 graphics cards saw no DRM Nouveau driver performance changes between Linux 3.6 and 3.8 in conjunction with the latest Mesa 9.1-devel Gallium3D driver.

The NVIDIA GeForce 9800GTX graphics card saw several performance improvements for different OpenGL games on Linux when using the still-in-development Linux 3.8 kernel. The performance improvements for the GeForce 9800GTX are very welcome except that there weren't as many performance improvements to find with the 9800GT and GT 220 graphics card when using the same kernels. This lack of improvement is likely because the GeForce 9800GTX was able to run at its higher factory-rated clock-speeds while Nouveau re-clocking failed for the two other graphics cards. Running at their slower boot clock speeds, the GeForce 9800GT and GT 220 graphics cards were bottlenecked elsewhere.

There was hope that the Linux 3.8 kernel would have better Nouveau re-clocking support, but that didn't end up materializing. With the Linux 3.7 kernel there was at least fan control support merged, which is a prerequisite for re-clocking support. The fan control support is necessary for ensuring the GPU's fan is working as it should so the GPU core will not overheat when being clocked to its high-performance state. Hopefully with the Linux 3.9 kernel we will see better re-clocking support for this reverse-engineered NVIDIA driver... Again, if you're not familiar with the Nouveau re-clocking debacle, see Nouveau Reclocking: Buggy, But Can Boost Performance and Clock-For-Clock, Nouveau Can Compete With NVIDIA's Driver.

Coming up in a few days will be Linux benchmark results comparing the latest Nouveau driver (Linux 3.8 + Mesa 9.1-devel) against NVIDIA's high performance proprietary driver.

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Michael Larabel is the principal author of and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 10,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via

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