NVIDIA Kepler Mainline Driver Support Nears Retirement, Starting With Notebook GPUs

Written by Michael Larabel in NVIDIA on 9 March 2019 at 06:55 AM EST. 29 Comments
NVIDIA will no longer be officially supporting Kepler mobile/notebook GPUs by their mainline driver. For now at least they will continue supporting Kepler desktop GPUs by their mainline driver.

On Friday was a knowledge-base article by NVIDIA outlining the support plan for Kepler GeForce GPUs for notebooks. Beginning next month (April), Kepler notebook GPUs will no longer be supported by the company's GameReady drivers but they will continue providing critical security updates through April 2020.

That update doesn't mention the Linux drivers, but when checking with NVIDIA, they confirmed beginning with the next driver update Kepler notebook GPUs will not be supported but come up as unrecognized devices. So it sounds like the Kepler notebook support may still be there, at least until the desktop support is dropped, but just unofficial support.

This isn't too surprising with NVIDIA dropping Fermi support last year. Next month will already mark seven years since NVIDIA introduced the Kepler graphics processors. But at least Kepler desktop GPUs will be officially supported for now.

Kepler represents the GeForce 600/700 series hardware.

Fortunately, even when the Kepler support is eventually dropped entirely from their mainline driver, the NVIDIA Linux crew does do a good job at maintaining their "legacy" driver branches with support for new Linux kernel / X.Org Server releases and other prominent bug fixes. There's no reason to doubt the Kepler legacy support will change.

As an alternative, Kepler is currently the best supported generation of NVIDIA hardware by the open-source "Nouveau" driver. With Kepler GPUs at least there is full re-clocking support for getting decent performance albeit only manual re-clocking and that can become a bit of a nuisance especially for mobile hardware where you may want rather aggressive clocking / performance state management to preserve precious battery life.
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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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