NVIDIA Looks To Have Some Sort Of Open-Source Driver Announcement For 2020

Written by Michael Larabel in NVIDIA on 5 December 2019 at 01:55 PM EST. 96 Comments
Start looking forward to March when NVIDIA looks to have some sort of open-source driver initiative to announce -- likely contributing more to Nouveau and we're crossing our fingers they will have sorted out the signed firmware situation to unblock those developers from delivering re-clocking support to yield better driver performance.

We were tipped off by a Phoronix reader to this GTC session for GTC 2020 by NVIDIA engineer John Hubbard. It's about "Open Source, Linux Kernel, and NVIDIA." The talk abstract is: "We'll report up-to-the-minute developments on NVIDIA's status and activities, and possibly (depending on last-minute developments) a few future plans and directions, regarding our contributions to Linux kernel; supporting Nouveau (the open source kernel driver for NVIDIA GPUs, that is in the Linux kernel), including signed firmware behavior, documentation, and patches; and NVIDIA kernel drivers."

Color us surprised and damn excited, as long as their announcement is substantive.

It was just back in August that NVIDIA began their open-source GPU documentation site.

The future plans would presumably be about contributing more actual code to the Nouveau driver project for their desktop GPUs and ideally clearing up the signed firmware mess that I've written about dozens (or perhaps hundreds by now) with the PMU firmware blocking their re-clocking support and long story short why for right now only the GeForce GTX 600/700 "Kepler" series is decent with this open-source code. I wouldn't expect NVIDIA to abandon their proprietary driver stack on Linux considering how mature (and feature-complete and performant) that existing closed-source driver solution is and the company likely being unwilling and uninterested in open-sourcing portions including CUDA and the like. So at this point I would wager any bets on a NVIDIA open-source 2020 announcement being to improve their firmware interactions and making direct code contributions to Nouveau.

GTC 2020 runs from 23 to 26 March in San Jose. Given this track, I'll try to be there live. Stay tuned!
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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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