1. Computers
  2. Display Drivers
  3. Graphics Cards
  4. Memory
  5. Motherboards
  6. Processors
  7. Software
  8. Storage
  9. Operating Systems


Facebook RSS Twitter Twitter Google Plus


Phoronix Test Suite

OpenBenchmarking.org

NVIDIA Confirms It's Working On Optimus Linux Support

NVIDIA

Published on 31 August 2012 07:39 PM EDT
Written by Michael Larabel in NVIDIA
31 Comments

At long last, NVIDIA confirms they are working on supporting their multi-GPU Optimus Technology under Linux with their proprietary graphics driver.

Thanks to the work done by the open-source community -- in large part by David Airlie of Red Hat -- with RandR 1.4 and GPU provider object support along with PRIME buffer sharing, Optimus is becoming a reality on Linux. The DRM PRIME work in turn is built upon DMA-BUF.

Aaron Plattner, one of the lead NVIDIA Linux engineers, publicly wrote "So I've been experimenting with support for Dave Airlie's new RandR 1.4 provider object interface, so that Optimus-based laptops can use our driver to drive the discrete GPU and display on the integrated GPU. The good news is that I've got a proof of concept working."

This work comes down to basically being able to share the buffer contents from one GPU and send it over to the other GPU that's driving the actual display output(s). Thanks to this shared multi-GPU implementation work being built upon the generic DMA-BUF infrastructure and X.Org Resize and Rotate (RandR) extension, multiple drivers can play together so that NVIDIA and Intel drivers can co-exist on the same system. Up to this point it's just been the open-source Nouveau, Radeon, and Intel drivers really playing with this support but it's wonderful to see the proprietary NVIDIA graphics drivers getting into this game. AMD has yet to acknowledge any plans for their Catalyst driver's support.

Concerns expressed by NVIDIA with the current implementation include the output source being responsible for allocating the shared memory, no fallback mechanism if sharing can't be negotiated, and it not being clear how memory should be allocated.

Aaron Plattner shared this NVIDIA Optimus Linux work via the dri-devel list.

This is really great news since up to this point NVIDIA Optimus laptops have been a pain to use properly under Linux. While there is DMA-BUF/PRIME support for the Nouveau driver, using the reverse-engineered open-source NVIDIA driver isn't ideal there since the driver lacks reliable and useful power management support (a.k.a. a very short battery life and potentially a warm lap). Let's hope this support gets stabilized soon.

Word of NVIDIA Optimus Linux support comes after Linus Torvalds openly criticized NVIDIA for lack of this feature that's becoming very common to modern notebooks.

About The Author
Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the web-site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience and being the largest web-site devoted to Linux hardware reviews, particularly for products relevant to Linux gamers and enthusiasts but also commonly reviewing servers/workstations and embedded Linux devices. Michael has written more than 10,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics hardware drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated testing software. He can be followed via and or contacted via .
Latest Articles & Reviews
  1. Khronos Group Announces Vulkan, OpenCL 2.1, SPIR-V
  2. Samsung 850 EVO SSD Linux Benchmarks
  3. Kubuntu 15.04 Is Turning Out Quite Nice, Good Way To Try Out The Latest KDE
  4. 5-Way Linux Distribution Comparison On The Core i3 NUC
  5. OCZ ARC 100 Linux SSD Benchmarks
  6. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Works Great As A Linux Ultrabook
Latest Linux News
  1. Valve Developed An Intel Linux Vulkan GPU Driver
  2. Valve Starts Listing The Steam Machines In The Steam Store
  3. Ubuntu Will Start Booting With Systemd Next Monday
  4. A Brand New Linux Network Stack Proposed: Linux XIA
  5. Niche Drivers Get Ported To Atomic Mode-Setting For Linux 4.1
  6. openSUSE Tumbleweed Continues Ascending
  7. Open-Source SPIR-V Reader & Writer Written In Java
  8. LunarGLASS Adds Experimental SPIR-V Front-End
  9. The New Open-Source Linux Test Farm Is Almost Operational
  10. Samba 4.2 Brings Transparent File Compression & Clustering Support
Most Viewed News This Week
  1. The Tremendous Features Of Fedora 22
  2. Confirmed: Vulkan Is The Next-Gen Graphics API
  3. Xfce 4.12 Released After Nearly Three Years Of Work
  4. 8cc: A Small C11 Compiler
  5. LLVM 3.6 & Clang 3.6 Deliver More Features, Complete C++14 Support
  6. Unreal Engine Made Free By Epic Games
  7. Canonical's Latest Demo Of Ubuntu Unity 8 Convergence In Action
  8. ALSA 1.0.29 Released