It Looks Like We Won't See An Open-Source NVIDIA Vulkan Driver This Year (Nouveau)

Written by Michael Larabel in Nouveau on 6 December 2018 at 12:00 AM EST. 26 Comments
While at the start of the year Nouveau developers expressed their hope to create a basic open-source NVIDIA Vulkan driver this calendar year, it doesn't look like it's panning out.

There is work certainly progressing in that direction thanks to Red Hat's Karol Herbst and others working on SPIR-V/compute support for Nouveau, which is the fundamental IR also needed by Vulkan. In fact, back in August Karol Herbst did publish some early bits of a Nouveau Vulkan driver, but there hasn't been any direct public activity to report on since that point.

There's the nouveau_vulkan branch of his Mesa Git tree that in the August work was just setting up the basic driver layout and related code for getting the start of a Nouveau Vulkan driver in Mesa.

But at least the Nouveau SPIR-V/compute work remains ongoing. Just recently there's been multi-context fixes and cleaned-up compute patches.

So while it would have been fun seeing a basic Nouveau Vulkan driver in 2018, it's not too surprising. The performance would/will also be poor until the re-clocking situation is sorted out for allowing the NVIDIA GPUs to run at their rated frequencies rather than their low boot-time frequencies. (I'll have out some fresh Nouveau vs. NVIDIA EOY2018 OpenGL tests soon with Kepler/Maxwell1/Maxwell2/Pascal in the next week or two.)

Let us know in the forums what you hope to see out of Nouveau / open-source NVIDIA in 2019.
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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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