NVIDIA 2013 Linux Graphics Driver Year-In-Review
Written by Michael Larabel in Display Drivers on 18 December 2013. Page 7 of 7. 1 Comment

When it came to the OpenGL performance of the major NVIDIA Linux driver releases of 2013 when tested by the GeForce GTX TITAN, there wasn't too much deviation in the results compared to its initial starting point. This though isn't too much of a surprise given that the NVIDIA OpenGL Linux performance is already very fast and generally delivering comparable Linux performance to Windows 8. Our OpenCL/GPGPU testing did reveal though some performance improvements for the GTX TITAN in the latest NVIDIA 331 Linux driver series.

Not covered by the driver testing were the many micro performance optimizations made this year by NVIDIA's Unix/Linux graphics team. This work also included delivering improved 2D / X RENDER performance. Aside from performance, this year was without a doubt one hell of a year for NVIDIA's Linux driver team. Being fueled by Valve and their Linux gaming push with many other game studios following suit, plus all around some exciting GeForce 700 hardware series releases, and the Linux desktop still gaining ground, 2013 was great for Linux desktop users who use the NVIDIA Linux binary driver. There were so many great features committed this year to NVIDIA's Linux driver but among my favorites were initial ARM support, initial EGL support (I'm hoping for much more in 2014), the continued timely turnaround for new GPU support, RandR 1.3/1.4 support, HDMI 4K support, and the many smaller features that combine yielded a very great year.

NVIDIA also deserves praise this year for becoming more open-source friendly albeit so far releasing just small bits of documentation and mailing list comments, but it's a great change and hopefully the NVIDIA-Nouveau relationship will begin to flourish in 2014.

When it comes to gripes about the NVIDIA Linux graphics driver, it's still a pity that for Fermi/Kepler (GeForce 400/500/600/700 series) there is no overclocking support exposed by the NVIDIA Linux driver. For older GPUs they have "CoolBits" support in the driver but they haven't yet allowed Linux overclocking of their newer graphics processors, but that might change soon.

A larger issue affecting many more people is the poor NVIDIA Optimus Linux support. Please NVIDIA, improve the situation in 2014, since multi-GPU laptops are only becoming more prevalent. Of course, the other request that many Linux desktop users have would be Mir and Wayland support for the driver.

Great job to NVIDIA's Linux driver team this year. However, hopefully the best is yet to come in 2014 with Linux gaming still on the rise, especially with the forthcoming launch of SteamOS and Steam Machines.

For those that may be new NVIDIA Linux users, some other related reading material that would be useful is my recent 27-way AMD/NVIDIA Linux graphics card comparison, the many GeForce 700 series benchmarks, quad-monitor Linux graphics testing, and Ultra HD 4K Linux GPU benchmarking. If you like all this exclusive Linux hardware content, do your part and join Phoronix Premium.

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Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com 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 OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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