NVIDIA GeForce 700 Series: Stick To The Binary Linux Drivers

Written by Michael Larabel in Display Drivers on 21 March 2014 at 06:00 AM EDT. Page 1 of 6. 13 Comments.

For current and potential owners of NVIDIA GeForce 700 series graphics cards that are curious about the graphics driver situation on Linux, under Ubuntu 14.04 LTS with the latest open and closed-source NVIDIA drivers with the latest "Kepler" and "Maxwell" graphics cards. Here's what you need to know now if trying to use the open-source Nouveau driver with these very latest NVIDIA graphics processors.

The GeForce 700 series hardware within my possession I was able to test from the GeForce 700 series was the GeForce GTX 750, GTX 750 Ti, GTX 760, GTX 770, GTX 780 Ti, and GTX TITAN. Where possible, I compared the open-source vs. closed-source driver performance using the very latest open-source (Linux 3.14 + Mesa 10.2-devel) drivers against the closed-source drivers (NVIDIA 334.21 for Linux).

When it comes to the open-source Nouveau driver support for the GeForce 700 series, first of all, there is no Maxwell support at this time. With the Linux 3.14 kernel and Mesa 10.2-devel at the time of writing, there is no support for the GeForce GTX 750 / Maxwell architecture. Following the Maxwell launch I wrote about NVIDIA's open-source plans for Maxwell, which basically amounted to NVIDIA supplying a new GPU to a Nouveau developer. At the moment there's no public code (at least widely seen) for supporting this successor to the Kepler architecture. Unless there's a big code announcement in the very near future with initial Maxwell support prepared for the Linux 3.15 kernel merge window, Maxwell customers will likely have to wait until later in 2014 before seeing any usable open-source driver support.

If booting on a GTX 750 / GTX 750 Ti right now with the Linux 3.14 kernel, the Nouveau driver will not work at all (even for kernel mode-setting) and just output an unknown chipset error.

Another issue encountered with the Nouveau driver for the GeForce GTX 700 series was the Nouveau GK110 acceleration support added to the Linux 3.14 kernel. While hardware acceleration was now working for the GeForce GTX TITAN, the GeForce GTX 780 Ti graphics card with the Linux 3.14 Git kernel was recognized as an unknown chipset.

With those problems mentioned, when it came to the hardware that worked with Nouveau on Linux 3.14 and Mesa 10.2-devel of the GeForce 700 series it was the GTX 760, GTX 770, and GTX TITAN.

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