The State Of Nouveau; Still Waiting On NVIDIA To Release Firmware

Written by Michael Larabel in Nouveau on 17 September 2015 at 06:10 PM EDT. 21 Comments
Besides AMD talking about their Vulkan Linux driver and other AMDGPU driver plans, an update on the open-source NVIDIA (Nouveau) driver was shared today at XDC2015.

Martin Peres, current Intel OTC Linux developer but longtime Nouveau contributor, and Alexandre Courbot, working for NVIDIA, shared a status update on Nouveau.

The current state of the Nouveau driver is that their big code rework landed for Linux 4.3, performance counters are progressing, and NVIDIA developers have been suggesting some changes to Nouveau. Changes suggested by NVIDIA have included explicit handling of coherent objects (already done) as well as a new submit IOCTL and fixing address allocation for compute shaders.

NVIDIA's interest in Nouveau mostly is on the mobile side with Tegra. Alexandre shared that the GM20B Tegra X1 work continues to be upstreamed, re-clocking and power management will come to the Tegra X1B soon, advanced features are planned, and a signed firmware release is imminent. With being based on the Maxwell GPU, the Tegra X1 is also plagued by needing signed firmware.

On the desktop side, Nouveau developers are still waiting for the release of signed microcode by NVIDIA for supporting the GeForce GTX 900 "Maxwell" graphics cards with hardware acceleration. NVIDIA has been working on submitting code for loading signed firmware into the open-source Nouveau DRM, exporting the NVIDIA firmware into a proper format, and adapting firmware policies at NVIDIA for public release.

Overall, no breakthrough open-source NVIDIA announcements nor any mention of Vulkan, but progress is still being made -- largely by community members. You can see the PDF slides for more details.
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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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