Nouveau Persevered In 2017 For Open-Source NVIDIA But 2018 Could Be Much Better

Written by Michael Larabel in Nouveau on 31 December 2017 at 01:02 PM EST. 37 Comments
The open-source NVIDIA "Nouveau" driver project providing independent, reverse-engineered 3D graphics driver support for GeForce GPUs made a lot of progress in 2017 although not as great as many would have hoped for. But 2018 will hopefully prove to be more interesting.

This year the Nouveau driver project managed to deliver working 3D hardware-accelerated GeForce GTX 1000 "Pascal" support after NVIDIA released the signed firmware images, the NVC0 Gallium3D driver is effectively at OpenGL 4.5 support now although only GL 4.3 is exposed until passing compliance, there is some experimental Maxwell GPU re-clocking for laptops or systems where the GPU thermal is controlled externally, NVIDIA contributed a few patches to Nouveau, and the Tegra support continues maturing.

The Nouveau way of re-clocking in 2017.

But unfortunately 2017 didn't bring any reliable re-clocking for Maxwell/Pascal support (Pascal re-clocking is non-existent right now) and thus these past two generations of NVIDIA GPUs are running at their rather low boot speeds and thus seriously slow performance. Even for pre-Maxwell GPUs, the re-clocking support remains manually controlled with no automatic re-clocking support yet. The re-clocking situation remains the main inhibitor from making this open-source NVIDIA driver usable for recent GPUs.

But looking ahead to 2018 could prove to be much more interesting... Red Hat's Jerome Glisse has been working on COMPOTE as HMM/compute support for Nouveau. Recently, Red Hat also hired longtime Nouveau contributor Karol Herbst. As his first work under Red Hat, Karol recently posted initial work on NIR/SPIR-V support for Nouveau that aside from compute could be the first steps toward an open-source NVIDIA Vulkan driver. Red Hat appears certainly interested in Nouveau compute support and that's quite interesting as it's really not worth it unless they can also get re-clocking to work otherwise the performance is a disaster. So it will certainly be interesting to see what happens on this front in 2018.

In ending out 2017, here's a look back at the most-viewed Nouveau articles this year on Phoronix.

Nouveau Developers Remain Blocked By NVIDIA From Advancing Open-Source Driver
Longtime Nouveau contributors Martin Peres and Karol Herbst presented at this week's XDC2017 X.Org conference at the Googleplex in Mountain View. It was a quick talk as they didn't have a whole lot to report on due to their open-source NVIDIA "Nouveau" driver efforts largely being restricted by NVIDIA Corp.

Nouveau Changes Prepped For Linux 4.11 Kernel
Ben Skeggs has queued up the planned open-source NVIDIA (Nouveau) driver changes for the imminent Linux 4.11 cycle.

Initial Open-Source Accelerated Support Comes To Nouveau For GTX 1050/1060/1070/1080
The patches are now out there for having initial accelerated support in the Nouveau DRM driver for the GeForce GTX 1050/1060/1070/1080 series "Pascal" graphics cards. The signed firmware is being released and will allow these consumer graphics cards to now have hardware-accelerated support via the open-source driver.

Trying Nouveau NVC0 Gallium3D With Civilization 6 On Mesa 17.1
With Intel Kabylake graphics on Mesa working (albeit very slowly) for Aspyr Media's latest Linux game port, Civilization VI, and RadeonSI Gallium3D running too albeit at a less than desirable speed, I decided to try running the open-source NVIDIA (Nouveau) driver with this latest AAA Linux game release.

NVIDIA Signed Firmware Published For Pascal GP102/GP104/GP106/GP107
Yesterday I wrote about initial Nouveau open-source acceleration for GeForce GTX 1050/1060/1070/1080 GPUs and now the signed firmware images needed for pairing with that code are readily available.

Nouveau: Mesa 13.0 vs. 17.0 vs. 17.1-devel OpenGL Benchmarks
Having now published RADV/RadeonSI Mesa 17.0 benchmarks and Intel i965/ANV Mesa 17.0 benchmarks compared to Mesa 13.0 and 17.1-devel, here are now benchmarks of the Nouveau NVC0 Gallium3D driver for seeing how this open-source NVIDIA 3D driver performs on the imminent Mesa 17.0 release.

Nouveau 1.0.14 Released With GM10x/GM20x Accelerated Support
For those using the xf86-video-nouveau X.Org driver rather than xf86-video-modesetting, the Nouveau DDX v1.0.14 release took place today.

Nouveau's GTX 1000 Acceleration Support Queued In DRM-Next
Ben Skeggs has sent in his initial Nouveau feature update abnormally early to DRM-Next for in turn landing in the Linux 4.12 kernel.

Trying Nouveau With HITMAN On Linux Doesn't Get Too Far
Chances are if you are using a NVIDIA GeForce graphics card and planning to game on Linux you are using NVIDIA's official Linux driver, but in case you are trying to use the free software Nouveau driver stack, I tried running Feral's recent HITMAN game release with this open-source NVIDIA driver.

Experimental Nouveau Reclocking Patches Updated, Including For Maxwell GPUs
Karol Herbst has sent out 29 updated patches on Friday for a major rework to the Nouveau clock related code for re-clocking and related functionality. This includes a "hacky workaround" for getting re-clocking to function on GeForce GTX 900 "Maxwell 2" GPUs.

Nouveau 1.0.15 X.Org Driver Released With Pascal Support
For those using the xf86-video-nouveau DDX driver rather than the generic xf86-video-modesetting, there is a new release now available.

GP10B & GP107 NVIDIA Support Land For Nouveau Linux 4.12
Ben Skeggs has queued up some of the last patches from NVIDIA's open-source enabler who last week left the company and queued up the code in DRM-Next for introduction in Linux 4.12.

Nouveau Gets Patches For OpenGL AZDO ARB_shader_ballot
Following the work laid by AMD developers on wiring ARB_shader_ballot into RadeonSI, a student developer working on Nouveau has posted support for this OpenGL extension.

NV_fill_rectangle Coming To Gallium3D/Nouveau
Red Hat developer Lyude Paul is working on OpenGL NV_fill_rectangle support for Gallium3D and the Nouveau driver.

Nouveau NVC0 Enables ARB_post_depth_coverage
Red Hat's Lyude has enabled the ARB_post_depth_coverage within the Nouveau NVC0 driver and the associated work for bringing it up within Gallium3D / Mesa state tracker.

Compute Shader Patches For Nouveau Pascal
Patches posted today for Nouveau NVC0, the open-source NVIDIA driver for modern GeForce GPUs, implement OpenGL compute shader support for Pascal hardware.

Nouveau Still Working To Support The GP108 / NVIDIA GT 1030
Nouveau developers continue working to support the GeForce GT 1030 "GP108" graphics processor that unfortunately is lagging behind the other Pascal GPUs in their open-source NVIDIA driver coverage.

COMPOTE: Working On HMM/Compute For Open-Source NVIDIA Driver
The long-awaited Heterogeneous Memory Management (HMM) work for the Linux kernel may be a step closer to mainlining now that Nouveau patches are in the works for this functionality as part of a seemingly new compute effort for this open-source NVIDIA driver.

NVIDIA Rolls Out Tegra X2 GPU Support In Nouveau
NVIDIA has published the initial hardware enablement patches for bringing up the Pascal GPU found in the Tegra X2 SoC under the open-source Nouveau driver.

A Look At The Long TODO List Of Nouveau: Reclocking, More OpenGL, Video Accel
With the recent news over the Nouveau Maxwell performance improvements and reaching OpenGL 4.3, among other milestones for this community-driven, open-source NVIDIA Linux graphics driver, you may be wondering what else is on the road-map for this driver.
Related News
About The Author
Michael Larabel

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

Popular News This Week