NVIDIA Open GPU Kernel Driver Improves Firmware Handling, IBT Support

Written by Michael Larabel in NVIDIA on 11 November 2022 at 01:15 PM EST. 10 Comments
With yesterday's NVIDIA 525.23 Linux driver beta in addition to many improvements in their closed-source code, their in-development open-source GPU kernel driver has also received some enhancements.

NVIDIA's open-source GPU kernel driver introduced earlier this year in the R515 series continues to be available as part of the packaged driver and also distributed separately via GitHub for those interested. So far it's just production-rated for NVIDIA's data center GPUs but can optionally be used on the consumer GeForce GPUs as well -- for the RTX 2000 series and newer given the GPU System Processor (GSP) hardware requirements.

With the NVIDIA 525.23 driver release, their open-source GPU kernel driver code has seen some improvements. That open kernel driver now supports display rotation under X11 along with Quadro Sync, Stereo, and YUV 4:2:0. Additionally, the driver now supports Indirect Branch Tracking (IBT) when enabled by the kernel on supported platforms.

The NVIDIA open driver supporting Indirect Branch Tracking is important given that the upstream kernel is preparing to enable IBT by default, likely for Linux 6.2, while some distribution kernels have also done so in the name of enhanced security.

The open-source NVIDIA kernel driver has also restructured how the GSP firmware is distributed and handled. There are now multiple firmware files to replace the former "gsp.bin" jumbo firmware so now that there is a file for each GPU architecture.

The latest NVIDIA open-source GPU kernel driver code for the R525 beta can be found via GitHub.

This NVIDIA open GPU kernel code still isn't in shape for upstreaming to the mainline kernel. But at least the upstream Nouveau driver has been working towards NVIDIA GSP support that can leverage some of the newly opened IP and by utilizing the GSP will ideally allow them to bypass some of the existing re-clocking limitations that have led to very slow performance for years on what started as a reverse-engineered driver.
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