Nouveau's Gallium3D Driver Gets Some Love Too
Written by Michael Larabel in Nouveau on 21 August 2010 at 04:38 PM EDT. 7 Comments
Yesterday was an exciting day for those Linux users interested in AMD's open-source ATI driver work with the release of the Radeon HD 5000 series 2D/3D driver, Radeon HD 6000 series support getting underway, and many ATI R600 Gallium3D driver improvements over the past few days. If though you are a NVIDIA customer interested in open-source support, there's great news for you today with the Nouveau driver that greatly improves the Gallium3D support.

Over the past few hours there's been quite a number (nearly 50 at the moment) commits to the mainline Mesa code-base by Luca Barbieri, a Nouveau community developer, that brings many changes with thousands of lines of code touched for the NVFX Gallium3D hardware driver. Below are some of the highlights of new code that was committed to Mesa's Git repository this afternoon and will be present in the next Mesa 7.9 release.

- A new Gallium3D-independent 2D engine with complete support for all operations involving swizzles and 3D-swizzled surfaces. Since this code is independent of the Gallium3D API, it can be reused within the classic Mesa DRI Nouveau driver that supports the vintage fixed-function and pre-shader-happy NVIDIA hardware. It could also be used within the xf86-video-nouveau DDX driver too, if so desired. This new module has also been hooked-up to use the NVIDIA GPU's 3D engine by reusing the blitter module originally created for the ATI R300 Gallium3D driver.

- Rewritten mip-tree layout code and support for compressed texture transfers.

- The draw and buffer code for NVFX has been completely rewritten. With this rewrite, a copy of buffers is now kept in the system memory in order to improve performance. The drawing code is also smarter in the sense it tries to figure out the most performance-efficient way to draw a given path. There's also now support for all vertex formats that are supported by the hardware, support for the base vertex, support for instancing, and other improvements.

- The NVFX driver now exposes GLSL (GL Shading Language) as being supported. At the time of this commit there still was GLSL control flow support lacking. A few minutes later, however, support for fragment program and vertex program control flows was added.

- Support for new TGSI op-codes: NOP, TRUNC, DP2, SSG, TXL, CMP. There's tweaks and enhancements to others too.

- Re-factored sampling code with added support for sRGB textures and more code unification between different generations of NVIDIA GPUs.

- The shader assembler has been re-factored.

- For debugging purposes there is now the ability to dump shaders in TGSI representation as well as native code.

- GPU hard lock-up fixes, optimized fragment texture format look-up, support for the OpenGL GL_ARB_texture_rectangle extension, and many other changes.

The Mesa Git log can be found on this page. It's too bad there's no magical support for the GeForce GTX 400 series or major improvements to the NV50 Gallium3D driver for other newer NVIDIA GeForce hardware, but the Nouveau developers certainly are doing a nice job with the added challenge they have of reverse-engineering NVIDIA's blob.

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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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