NVIDIA Developer Opens Feature Pull Request For Open-Source NVK Driver

Written by Michael Larabel in NVIDIA on 25 April 2024 at 05:06 PM EDT. 44 Comments
If your interest didn't pique enough when the former Nouveau lead developer joined NVIDIA and sent out a big patch series for this originally-reverse-engineered, open-source NVIDIA kernel driver, here's another plot twist: another NVIDIA engineer opening a merge request adding to the Mesa NVK Vulkan driver.

Just weeks after noting former Nouveau DRM maintainer Ben Skeggs is now at NVIDIA after leaving Red Hat, Arthur Huillet of NVIDIA opened a feature merge request for Mesa's NVK driver.

If the name doesn't ring a bell, Arthur Huillet started off more than one decade ago contributing to the Nouveau driver stack... He's been working though at NVIDIA Corp the past several years on what was just their proprietary NVIDIA Linux driver. But this month he's begun contributing to Mesa with code review/comments around NVK and now a feature merge request.

FreeDesktop.org GitLab Arthur
Arthur only recently has become re-involved with FreeDesktop.org GitLab (Mesa).

The merge request is for implementing conservative rasterization support for all NVIDIA GPUs with the NVK driver. Interesting times to see a NVIDIA engineer contributing a Vulkan extension (VK_EXT_conservative_rasterization) to NVK that started out as a community, open-source NVIDIA Vulkan driver as part of the Nouveau umbrella.

This aligns with activity I've been seeing on the mailing lists as well of increased NVIDIA involvement and hearing other things too. Though the extent of NVIDIA's plans around open-source Linux driver support isn't publicly clear. It is clear that they are contributing directly now to the kernel and Mesa components. This will likely all be complementary to their existing and mature binary driver stack: it's unlikely to see them open up their proprietary user-space components, especially around the walled garden of CUDA, but interesting to see the moves they are making. Presumably this is being done to satisfy (potential?) customers becoming more interested in at least their open-source kernel driver support and for some basic or other (safety critical?) use-cases where Mesa graphics components may be good enough. AMD has been enjoying much success over the years on Linux thanks to their first-rate open-source driver support and developed a strong following in that regard. Interesting times ahead to say the least.
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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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