NVIDIA's Linux Driver Saw Some Nice Performance Gains In 2018
The open-source Radeon Linux graphics driver stack saw some nice RADV Vulkan performance improvements over the course of this year as well as to the RadeonSI Gallium3D driver performance, but how did the NVIDIA Linux driver stack perform this year for gaming? Here are some benchmarks showing it too saw some nice Linux gaming performance boosts this year with subsequent driver updates.
The NVIDIA Linux driver stack this year saw punctual support for new consumer and workstation/professional products, as we've come to expect over the past decade and even longer. The 2018 NVIDIA Linux drivers also brought continued EGL improvements, introduced a new Vulkan SPIR-V compiler for faster shader compilation and lower memory consumption, kept up-to-date with the latest Vulkan revisions, added support for RandR transformations, added the OptiX ray-tracing engine, implemented support for Vulkan real-time ray-tracing, and there was a wide variety of fixes and other improvements. Though with NVIDIA's Linux driver effectively having been at feature parity with their Windows driver for years, the ongoing changes may not seem as impressive as the open-source Radeon Linux driver stack that only recently has been reaching feature and performance parity to the Windows Radeon Software driver.
For those curious about the NVIDIA Linux driver performance improvements throughout the year particularly for OpenGL/Vulkan gaming, I ran some benchmarks on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS comparing a driver release from the start of the year (384.130) to the current latest stable driver release (NVIDIA 415.23). All of the tests were done on the same system and using both a GeForce GTX 1060 and GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Pascal graphics cards. From there a variety of graphics benchmarks were carried out to look for the driver performance changes on both of these graphics cards. The games tested obviously had to work back on the 384 driver series, so some of the very latest Vulkan game ports requiring a new driver obviously couldn't be tested.