Red Hat Experimenting With "NVK" Nouveau Open-Source Vulkan Driver

Written by Michael Larabel in Nouveau on 2 June 2022 at 12:09 PM EDT. 31 Comments
Following the recent news about Nouveau shifting code around so their shader compiler can be used outside of Nouveau Gallium3D, Red Hat's Karol Herbst who has been a longtime Nouveau developer has been posting patches for his new "NVK" Nouveau Vulkan driver effort.

NVK is a new, yet-to-be-merged and still very early stage open-source Vulkan driver for NVIDIA graphics hardware. This is a Mesa-based driver so far being primarily worked on by Karol Herbst, who joined Red Hat several years ago and since then has continued working heavily on Mesa including in the areas of OpenCL compute and other features. Besides recently working on NVK, he recently started tackling Rusticl as a Rust-based OpenCL implementation for Mesa.

Jason Ekstrand of Collabora has also been making some early contributions to NVK as well along with David Airlie, also of Red Hat.

NVK at least can run vulkaninfo but at this stage is still an early work-in-progress with the initial code having just been committed two weeks ago.

Besides the performance challenges with newer generations of NVIDIA graphics cards, the lack of an open-source NVIDIA Vulkan driver has been the other major blocker considering most Linux games these days are Vulkan-native and even with Steam Play mostly going through Vulkan with VKD3D-Proton/DXVK.

With time this NVK driver will likely be adapted to support the open-source NVIDIA kernel driver as an alternative to the Nouveau DRM driver.

The initial NVK open-source Vulkan driver code can be found via Nouveau's GitLab repository.
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