For Older NVIDIA GPUs, Nouveau Re-Clocking Is Getting Fit
Written by Michael Larabel in Nouveau on 9 October 2014 at 12:42 PM EDT. 3 Comments
Student developer Roy Spliet presented at XDC2014 Bordeaux this week about his X.Org Foundation funded work on improving GPU re-clocking for the open-source Nouveau (NVIDIA) Linux graphics driver. For NVA3/NVA5/NVA8 hardware owners, the reverse-engineered driver will soon start offering better performance with the GPU core and memory frequencies finally able to hit their rated targets.

Roy Spliet has been tackling re-clocking for a number of months as one of the few developers involved in this task of allowing the NVIDIA GPUs to re-clock to their rated core and memory frequencies rather than being stuck to whatever lower clock frequencies they were programmed to by the video BIOS at boot time.

Roy's XDC2014 presentation covers the challenges in re-clocking, the process of understanding the clock tree and bits via EnvyTools, MMIOtrace, and other reverse engineering work, and then implementing the complex process of re-clocking the hardware and increasing the voltages where needed.

Future work Roy says that's still outstanding is GDDR5 re-clocking, load-based automatic clock/voltage adjustments, improving the reliability of Nouveau re-clocking, and then getting re-clocking in a good shape for Fermi/Kepler/Maxwell GPUs.

Roy's paid project is over and he's got the NVA3/5/8 graphics processors in decent shape and will ultimately be part of the Nouveau DRM driver in the mainline Linux kernel. However, for now he's taking a break from this work and he's not sure if he'll get involved later with the remaining Nouveau re-clocking work items -- it depends where he ends up finding employment, etc. NVIDIA should take a look at hiring him if they want to bolster their open-source desktop graphics contributions to Nouveau.

You can find Roy's XDC2014 presentation slides in PDF form.
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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 or contacted via

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