Open-Source NVIDIA "Nouveau" Driver Refactors Some Display Code For Linux 5.20

Written by Michael Larabel in Nouveau on 27 July 2022 at 05:12 AM EDT. 24 Comments
While AMD and Intel are busy with big graphics driver changes for each new version of the Linux kernel, the open-source NVIDIA "Novueau" kernel driver that is largely just worked on by Red Hat employees is just stumbling along. NVIDIA in May announced they are transitioning to an open-source kernel driver approach, but that current kernel driver is not in shape for upstreaming and due to the heavy use of the GPU System Processor (GSP) that source release hasn't been a huge help yet for the reverse-engineered Nouveau driver. With the upcoming Linux 5.20, Nouveau has some display patches.

Earlier this month were a few Nouveau patches queued into DRM-Next for Linux 5.20 and yesterday DRM maintainer David Airlie queued up some display code patches for this driver. This is some refactoring to the Nouveau DRM driver's display code for cleaning up of some functions, some common class handling around NV50 hardware, and just other low-level code improvements for the display functions. As usual, these Nouveau DRM changes were worked on by Red Hat's Ben Skeggs as the Nouveau DRM maintainer, tested by Red Hat's Lyude Paul, and merged by Red Hat's David Airlie as the primary DRM subsystem maintainer.

This new pull isn't really notable for end-users. Sadly no major progress to report on bettering the Nouveau driver support for recent generations of NVIDIA hardware. The best open-source support now remains with the GeForce GTX 600/700 series due to no firmware restrictions and able to (manually) re-clock the hardware to its optimal clock frequencies. Past the GTX 700 series there are signed firmware images to deal with and not yet any proper support for putting the hardware to its optimal/peak clock frequencies and thus very slow performance.

Past the GTX 750 "Maxwell1", the signed firmware mess continues to restrict the Nouveau driver from currently achieving decent performance due to the power management firmware and current inability to run the hardware at its rated clock speeds.

So until major changes from NVIDIA either to an upstream-compatible kernel driver or significant help for Nouveau, the upstream open-source NVIDIA kernel driver remains in a rather sad, stagnate shape.
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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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