Google's Linux Kernel Build For Stadia Adds NVIDIA Driver Support

Written by Michael Larabel in NVIDIA on 24 June 2022 at 05:40 AM EDT. 27 Comments
NVIDIA --
Google's Stadia cloud gaming service since its 2019 launch has relied upon custom Vega-based GPUs in their Linux servers but now it looks like they may be quietly transitioning to using NVIDIA GPUs.

There hasn't been any formal announcement yet but a Phoronix reader pointed out that Google recently updated their public kernel repository for their Linux kernel build they use for Stadia. With their most recent update last month, they added support for building/installing from the NVIDIA proprietary driver stack.

Google didn't indicate their motivation for this NVIDIA driver support with their Stadia Linux kernel build but the code commit does mention, "instances that use a NVIDIA gpu", so at least some of the Stadia servers now would appear to be running with NVIDIA graphics.


This change to allow the NVIDIA driver build with the Stadia kernel was made on 17 May, one week after NVIDIA announced they were working on an open-source GPU kernel driver albeit not yet upstream nor currently in a condition for upstream acceptance. So it's curious timing or if Google also had a role in helping push NVIDIA along with their open GPU kernel driver effort.

In any event that's all the information I have right now that at least some Google Stadia instances appear to be powered by NVIDIA graphics but whether it's just for limited experimental/testing purposes or as part of a second generation hardware design remains to be confirmed. Considering both Google and AMD talked up the initial Radeon graphics powering Stadia and the well regarded, fully open-source AMD Linux graphics driver stack, it is a bit surprising to see Google possibly moving over to NVIDIA powering Stadia.
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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 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 OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter, LinkedIn, or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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