NVIDIA Contributes Much Less To The Linux Kernel Than Intel Or AMD

Written by Michael Larabel in NVIDIA on 24 January 2020 at 03:39 PM EST. 59 Comments
Yesterday I put together some statistics on the AMD vs. Intel contributions to the upstream Linux kernel during the 2010s, but a request coming in off that was how do NVIDIA's contributions compare. Here is a look at the NVIDIA contributions to the Linux kernel over the past decade.

Obviously NVIDIA's contributions are much less given they are primarily focused on a proprietary graphics driver stack compared to Intel and AMD with their Direct Rendering Manager drivers within the Linux kernel. But NVIDIA does contribute to the Linux kernel: they ultimately upstream their Tegra SoC support and other bits where it makes business sense. While they do not contribute much right now to open-source desktop graphics, they do contribute more to Nouveau where it concerns the Tegra graphics.

With NVIDIA acquiring Mellanox Technologies, that will shift some for NVIDIA moving forward since the networking company does contribute their drivers upstream. NVIDIA also has some sort of open-source announcement coming up but we're still waiting on details on that and if that means any significant part of their kernel driver could be open-source.

In any case, NVIDIA's contributions to the upstream Linux kernel over the past decade are far less than Intel or AMD, but for those saying NVIDIA doesn't contribute at all to the open-source kernel, that's simply untrue.

Based on unique NVIDIA.com email addresses, NVIDIA currently has two to three dozen developers per year contributing to the upstream kernel... The 36 NVIDIA developers in 2019 is far less than the 400+ out of Intel or even nearly 200 from AMD.

NVIDIA developers did rack up 673 commits to the Linux kernel in 2019, which is double their 2018 code commits, but off the 753 high of 2016. This is a tiny portion compared to AMD and Intel with their significantly more commits thanks to their mainlined open-source kernel graphics drivers while for now most of NVIDIA's code remains focused on Tegra enablement.
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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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