Nouveau Hopes For Basic Vulkan Driver This Year, NVIDIA To Release Some New Docs Soon

Written by Michael Larabel in Nouveau on 3 February 2018 at 10:17 AM EST. 28 Comments
Open-source NVIDIA "Nouveau" driver developers Martin Peres, Pierre Moreau, and Karol Herbst took to the FOSDEM 2018 conference today to share a status update on their reverse-engineering and open-source driver writing work around this unofficial NVIDIA Linux driver.

For any regular Phoronix reader, you should already know the basics of their presentation: officially they are at OpenGL 4.3 but they implement extensions through OpenGL 4.5 but still need to pass the CTS, the latest-generation Pascal GPUs are very locked down and thus not well supported right now. Items like fan management, re-clocking, video BIOS uploading, and power reading are all considered impossible right now due to the restrictions in place on these latest NVIDIA GPUs.

One bit of new information is that "NVIDIA is about to release some documentation" concerning fan management. While fan management may not seem exciting, this is a step needed towards getting re-clocking working. Unless the Nouveau driver can be sure it's handling the fan correctly to effectively cool the graphics cards, it's not safe otherwise re-clocking due to risk of overheating.

Another notable bit is the Nouveau developers hope to have some basic Vulkan driver ready this year! This isn't entirely surprising though considering the overall direction of Vulkan these days. Additionally, longtime Nouveau contributor Karol Herbst was recently hired by Red Hat to continue work on the opens-source NVIDIA driver. His initial work at the company is on NIR / SPIR-V support for Nouveau and that is a step towards Vulkan with it being the common IR to it and OpenCL. So seeing a Vulkan driver this year is promising, but keep in mind the performance will still be less than stellar unless they get re-clocking working well for delivering good performance.

On the OpenCL compute front, they are still working towards OpenCL 1.2 compliance.

Also exciting from the presentation is "some signs of opening?" around NVIDIA and their video BIOS documentation/support. This would be great as their lack of documentation/support around their locked-down vBIOS for Maxwell2 and Pascal GPUs is the main inhibitor right now from delivering re-clocking support on the GeForce GTX 900/1000 series so these discrete GPUs can clock to their designated optimal frequencies rather than currently being locked down to their (usually very low) boot frequencies.

The Nouveau community is always welcoming -- and hoping for -- new contributors. For the IRC channel and other means of getting in touch, learn more at
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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 20,000 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, LinkedIn, or contacted via

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