Linux 4.9 To Begin Landing Nouveau "Boost" Support For Faster Performance

Written by Michael Larabel in Nouveau on 6 September 2016 at 09:13 AM EDT. 8 Comments
Great news for users of the open-source NVIDIA "Nouveau" graphics driver: the long-awaited boost patches are now queued up to land with Linux 4.9.

The boost patches are about allowing the Kepler and newer graphics cards to achieve their "boost" frequencies, rather than their highest standard clock frequencies. With being able to hit these upper frequency thresholds, the performance should be more competitive with the proprietary driver. I tested the earlier version of these patches months ago and found great improvements: Nouveau "Boost" Patches Show Much Performance Potential.

Ben Skeggs finally began pulling the work and is now in the Nouveau repository for then being sent into Linux 4.9 via DRM-Next.

Before getting too excited, there isn't yet any Nouveau dynamic re-clocking support and re-clocking support itself remains disabled by default. The boost frequencies aren't automatically used either but require setting a new sysfs entry for exposing the boost clock from the video BIOS or boosting to the maximum clock available. Details in this commit message.

On top of that, the boost handling is a worst-case scenario right now. The driver is currently assuming the GPU is always running at 90C, which means slightly lower boost levels will be used. The Nouveau developers are still working on the code for being able to dynamically change the boost threshold based upon changes in the GPU temperature, but they won't be that far for Linux 4.9 and thus are playing it safe by pretending the GPU is always running hot.

The latest Nouveau Git code also enables memory reclocking for GM10X GPUs too. Stay tuned for fresh Nouveau benchmarks as Linux 4.9 development heats up.
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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

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