NVIDIA 64-bit FreeBSD Beta Driver By Year's End
Written by Michael Larabel in BSD on 24 November 2009 at 03:01 PM EST. 1 Comment
With the FreeBSD 8.0 release now available, we reached out to NVIDIA to find out the status of their 64-bit BSD display driver, now that this operating system carries the necessary mmap extension support in their 64-bit kernel for their proprietary graphics driver to function. Andy Ritger, who heads the user-space side of NVIDIA's UNIX Graphics Driver team and was previously interviewed by Phoronix, provided a brief update.

Ritger doesn't have a firm ETA when a 64-bit BSD display driver will be released, but he hopes soon. He added, "There should certainly be at least a public beta driver available before the end of the year."

NVIDIA has supported 32-bit FreeBSD systems with their graphics drivers for years, but this will be the first time 64-bit support is arriving. This driver will join NVIDIA's family of Unix graphics drivers that consist of FreeBSD x86, Solaris x86/x64, Linux x86, and Linux x86_64 (along with the no longer maintained Linux IA64).

Changes in FreeBSD 8.0 not only allow for this 64-bit binary display driver to function, but other underlying improvements will also allow PCI Express performance improvements, improved X/OpenGL performance, and even support for SLI. NVIDIA's Scalable Link Interface technology for multi-GPU rendering was introduced in their Linux and Solaris drivers way back in 2005 -- in fact, almost four years to the day.

It is not known though whether this forthcoming FreeBSD x86_64 driver will initially support multi-GPU SLI. Though with nearly all of NVIDIA's driver code being shared between all supported platforms (read the aforementioned interview), it would not be surprising if BSD SLI support is here very soon. Some of the technical changes that were made to FreeBSD to allow for these NVIDIA improvements can be found on the FreeBSD Wiki. We expect the FreeBSD improvements in NVIDIA's driver to be introduced as part of their work on the 195.xx driver series.
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Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com 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 OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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