Open-Source NVIDIA "Nouveau" Driver Sees Few Changes For Linux 5.20

Written by Michael Larabel in Nouveau on 13 July 2022 at 05:19 AM EDT. 17 Comments
NOUVEAU --
There hasn't been much to report on lately for the reverse-engineered Nouveau driver providing open-source NVIDIA GPU driver support on Linux. Several recent Linux kernel series haven't even seen any Nouveau DRM/KMS driver pull requests with changes. For the upcoming Linux 5.20 cycle, a Nouveau set of changes were sent in today to DRM-Next but it's quite tiny.

The state of the Nouveau open-source driver stack remains rather sad. While there has been some work on Ampere GPU acceleration now that the firmware binaries are out, it's still in the early stages. Over in Mesa space, there is early work towards Vulkan support but the Gallium3D code with OpenGL is their primary focus but still seeing seldom changes. There's also been the Gallium3D OpenCL work by Red Hat too for Nouveau but still not anything robust for end-users at this time. Most problematic is the "best" Nouveau support remains with the aging GeForce GTX 600/700 "Kepler" (and GTX 750 "Maxwell1") series due to not requiring any signed firmware images and there having re-clocking support available. The re-clocking support allows for operating the graphics cards at their rated frequencies rather than being limited to the low clock frequencies programmed at boot time. Even there though that re-clocking still needs to be carried out manually by the user.


The nearly ten year old GeForce GTX 780 Ti remains basically the top-end graphics card for Nouveau open-source usage at this time.


For lacking re-clocking with the GeForce GTX 900 series and later and the mess around the binary firmware files, Nouveau remains an unfortunate mess for the more recent generations of NVIDIA GPUs. Now with Linux 5.20, David Airlie stepped up today to queue up some changes worked on by Ben Skeggs -- both engineers from Red Hat. These changes though amount to some basic fixes and code improvements.

Airlie wrote with today's pull request for DRM-Next, "This is a set of misc nouveau patches skeggsb left queued up, just flushing some of them out."

So nothing to get excited about but at least there is some changes for Nouveau with Linux 5.20.

Meanwhile on NVIDIA's open GPU kernel driver front, there is nothing new to report at this point. The code would need to be significantly reworked/written before being mainlined among other obstacles in the way. Nothing there is happening for Linux 5.20 but would be a much longer-term effort.
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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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