NVIDIA's 2018 Linux Highlights Included Some Open-Source Milestones, But Not Many
Written by Michael Larabel in NVIDIA on 30 December 2018 at 09:29 AM EST. 13 Comments
Besides the launch of their successful RTX "Turing" graphics cards, releasing the exciting Jetson AGX Xavier board, and other hardware initiatives, the green giant continued work on their flagship Linux graphics driver that while proprietary continues offering effectively the same feature set and performance as their Windows driver. They did make some open-source surprises this year, but not nearly as many as many in the community would have liked to see.

On their official (proprietary) driver front, they continued maintaining punctual support for their new products on Linux, added Vulkan ray-tracing support, and even improved the performance -- yesterday I provided a NVIDIA Linux driver recap and a look at their 2018 driver performance so check that out for their 2018 Linux driver overview.

On the open-source front, NVIDIA (re)released PhysX as open-source, started some new open-source efforts like RAPIDS, did provided some new firmware binaries to Nouveau developers although not the long-awaited PMU bits they've been seeking, created a new I2C USB Type-C driver for Turing cards with the VirtualLink connections, continued working on the open-source graphics/display driver support for Tegra SoCs, is working on contributing an EGLStreams back-end to KDE Kwin, and other minor open-source work where it makes sense for the company.

From the Nouveau open-source NVIDIA driver front there hasn't been much progress this year besides the Red Hat led work on Nouveau compute and SPIR-V support, which is not yet merged to Mesa. They didn't manage an open-source Vulkan driver this year nor any other breakthroughs... The biggest breakthrough we would want to see would be being able to get better performance if they could have re-clocking work for GTX 900 Maxwell GPUs and newer but sadly no signs of a solution on the near-term horizon.

For those wondering what were the most popular NVIDIA Linux stories on Phoronix this year, of 175+ original NVIDIA Linux related articles on the site this year, the most viewed ones were:

NVIDIA Makes PhysX Open-Source
As a very big surprise bundled alongside the announcement today of the $2,499 USD TITAN RTX graphics card is word that NVIDIA's PhysX software is going open-source!

The NVIDIA 390 Driver Is Playing Nicely With Linux 4.15 Kernel
For those NVIDIA Linux users reliant upon the proprietary driver and wanting to upgrade to the Linux 4.15 kernel that will be officially released within the next two weeks, the 390.12 driver is playing nicely.

NVIDIA 410.57 Linux Beta Released With RTX 2080 Support, OptiX/Vulkan Ray-Tracing
The Linux driver I've been using today for the just-posted GeForce RTX 2080 Ti Linux benchmarks is now publicly available. This NVIDIA 410 Linux driver is most exciting for Volta and Turing GPU owners, but there are also some EGL and Vulkan updates along with other changes.

NVIDIA Ends The GeForce Partner Program
Following controversies the past few weeks about their GeForce Partner Program (GPP), NVIDIA is today ending the initiative.

NVIDIA Publishes Signed Volta Firmware Images For Enabling Open-Source Driver Support
While there are no signs of an imminent "Turing" signed firmware release as a prerequisite for open-source driver support on the new GeForce RTX 2070/2080 series, NVIDIA has finally let loose the signed firmware images for Volta "GV100" hardware.

NVIDIA CUDA 10 Officially Released With Turing Support, nvJPEG, CUDA-Vulkan
Coinciding with the debut of the GeForce RTX 2080 series line-up is now the official release of CUDA 10.0.

Nouveau Developers Begin Reverse-Engineering NVIDIA Turing Driver Support
The NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 graphics cards are only officially beginning to ship today, but at least one independent Nouveau developer already has his hands on the hardware and beginning to work on the clean-room, driver reverse-engineering process in order to eventually get open-source "Nouveau" driver support working.

NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Series Expectations On Linux
One of the exciting events to look forward to this month is the actual launch of the GeForce RTX 2080 series with these graphics cards slated to begin shipping on 20 September. While NVIDIA has talked up the RTX 2080 series performance it has exclusively been under Windows. NVIDIA hasn't provided any official comments about the RTX 2080 series on Linux, but here is my pre-launch analysis and commentary.

NVIDIA Releases The 396.24 Linux Driver With X.Org Server 1.20 Support
NVIDIA has introduced their first stable driver in the 396 driver series for Linux, the 396.24 release.

The GeForce RTX 2080 Ti Arrives For Linux Benchmarking
It looks like NVIDIA has their launch-day Linux support in order for the GeForce RTX 2080 "Turing" graphics cards slated to ship later this week as arriving today at Phoronix was the RTX 2080 Ti.

NVIDIA Introduces A Number Of New OpenGL Extensions For Turing
As part of the GeForce RTX 2080 series launching with the new GPU architecture, NVIDIA has published a number of new OpenGL extensions for making use of some of Turing's new capabilities.

NVIDIA Jetson Xavier Development Kit: Under 30 Watts, 8-Core ARMv8.2, 512 Core Volta
The NVIDIA Jetson Xavier Development Kit is pretty darn exciting with having eight ARMv8.2 cores, a 512-core Volta GPU, 16GB of LPDDR4, and under 30 Watt power use.

[email protected] Performance Is Looking Good On The GeForce RTX 2080 Ti
Yesterday I published a number of CUDA and OpenCL benchmarks for the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti graphics card that happened to show the very strong GPU compote potential for this new Turing GPU. Another workload with promising potential for this powerful but pricey graphics card is [email protected]

Nouveau NV50 Gets Patches To Help Dolphin Emulator By As Much As ~50%
If you are using the Nouveau Gallium3D driver there is now the possibility of having much better performance with the Dolphin emulator.

NVIDIA Open-Sources New I2C USB Type-C Turing GPU Driver In Linux 4.20
The Linux 4.20 kernel has just received a new post-merge-window new driver: i2c-nvidia-gpu that is being contributed by the NVIDIA crew for their newest Turing graphics cards.

More Linux Tests & Driver Observations With The GeForce RTX 2080 Ti
Here are some additional notes to complement my GeForce RTX 2080 Ti Linux review from yesterday now that I've had more time with this card and a working Linux driver.

NVIDIA 396.18 Linux Driver Reaches Beta With New Vulkan SPIR-V Compiler
NVIDIA has rolled out an exciting beta Linux driver today, the first in their upcoming 396 driver series.

NVIDIA 396.45 Linux Driver Fixes Vulkan Direct-To-Display & Multi-Threaded EGL Apps
The NVIDIA Unix developers have released the 396.45 binary display driver today with just two listed bug-fixes.

NVIDIA 396.54.02 Vulkan Beta Driver Brings Some Fixes For DXVK
NVIDIA today released new Vulkan beta drivers in the form of v399.17 for Windows and v396.54.02 for Linux.

NVIDIA Preparing To Drop Fermi Support From Their Mainline Drivers
NVIDIA is in the process of retiring GeForce 400/500 "Fermi" GPU support from their mainline graphics drivers on Windows and Linux/BSD/Solaris.

And in terms of our most popular NVIDIA reviews/benchmarks of the year:

NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti To GTX 980 Ti TensorFlow Benchmarks With ResNet-50, AlexNet, GoogLeNet, Inception, VGG-16 For those curious about the TensorFlow performance on the newly-released GeForce RTX 2080 series, for your viewing pleasure to kick off this week of Linux benchmarking is a look at Maxwell, Pascal, and Turing graphics cards in my possession when testing the NGC TensorFlow instance on CUDA 10.0 with the 410.57 Linux driver atop Ubuntu and exploring the performance of various models. Besides the raw performance, the performance-per-Watt and performance-per-dollar is also provided.

Windows 10 vs. Ubuntu Linux With Radeon / GeForce GPUs On The Latest 2018 Drivers Given how fiercely the latest open-source AMD Linux driver code is running now up against NVIDIA's long-standing flagship Linux GPU driver, you might be curious how well that driver stacks up against the Radeon Software driver on Windows? Well, you are in luck as here are some fresh benchmarks of the Radeon RX 580 and RX Vega 64 as well as the GeForce GTX 1060 and GTX 1080 Ti while being tested both under Microsoft Windows 10 Pro x64 and Ubuntu 16.04 LTS while using the latest AMD/NVIDIA drivers on each platform.

NVIDIA GeForce vs. AMD Radeon Linux Gaming Performance At The Start Of 2018 Here is a fresh look at the NVIDIA GeForce and AMD Radeon Linux graphics card performance as we start 2018. Testing was done using the latest Linux 4.15 Git kernel -- including the KPTI page table isolation support -- as well as using the newest Mesa 17.4-dev driver code for RadeonSI/RADV and on the NVIDIA side is their brand new 390.12 beta driver.

The NVIDIA/AMD Linux GPU Gaming Benchmarks & Performance-Per-Dollar For July 2018 In part with GPU demand by crypto-currency miners waning a bit, NVIDIA GeForce and AMD Radeon graphics card availability at retailers has been improving in recent weeks as well as seeing less inflated prices than just recently had been the case. Given the better availability and stabilizing prices, here is a fresh look of the current line-up of GeForce and Radeon graphics cards under Ubuntu Linux using the newest AMD/NVIDIA drivers and also providing performance-per-dollar metrics given current retail prices.

Radeon GPUs Are Increasingly Competing With NVIDIA GPUs On Latest RadeonSI/RADV Drivers As it's been a few weeks since last delivering a modest Linux GPU comparison and given the continuously evolving state of the Linux kernel Git tree as well as the Mesa project that houses the RadeonSI OpenGL and RADV Vulkan drivers, here are our latest benchmarks showing the current state of the AMD Radeon open-source Linux graphics driver performance relative to NVIDIA's long-standing and high-performance but proprietary driver using several different graphics cards.

Initial NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti Linux Benchmarks Here are the first of many benchmarks of the GeForce RTX 2080 Ti "Turing" graphics card under Linux with this initial piece exploring the OpenGL/Vulkan gaming performance.

NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti Shows Very Strong Compute Performance Potential Besides the new GeForce RTX 2080 series being attractive for developers wanting to make use of new technologies like RTX/ray-tracing, mesh shaders, and DLSS (Deep Learning Super Sampling), CUDA and OpenCL benchmarking so far on the GeForce RTX 2080 Ti is yielding impressive performance -- even outside of the obvious AI / deep learning potential workloads with the Turing tensor cores. Here are some benchmarks looking at the OpenCL/CUDA performance on the high-end Maxwell, Pascal, and Turing cards as well as an AMD Radeon RX Vega 64 for reference. System power consumption, performance-per-Watt, and performance-per-dollar metrics also round out this latest Ubuntu Linux GPU compute comparison.

The NVIDIA vs. Open-Source Nouveau Linux Driver Benchmarks For Summer 2018 It has been some months since last delivering any benchmarks of Nouveau, the open-source, community-driven for NVIDIA GPUs. The reason for not having any Nouveau benchmarks recently has largely been due to lack of major progress, at least on the GeForce desktop GPU side, while NVIDIA has continued to contribute on the Tegra side. For those wondering how the current performance is of this driver that started out more than a decade ago via reverse-engineering, here are some benchmarks of the latest open-source Nouveau and NVIDIA Linux graphics drivers on Ubuntu.

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680 To RTX 2080 Ti Graphics/Compute Performance Yesterday were the initial NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti Linux benchmarks based upon my early testing of this high-end Turing graphics card paired with their new 410 Linux graphics driver. For your viewing pleasure today is a look at how the RTX 2080 Ti compares to the top-end cards going back to Kepler... Or, simply put, it's the GeForce GTX 680 vs. GTX 780 Ti vs. 980 Ti vs. 1080 Ti vs. 2080 Ti comparison with OpenGL and Vulkan graphics tests as well as some initial OpenCL / CUDA tests but more Turing GPU compute tests are currently being conducted. For making this historical comparison more interesting are also power consumption and performance-per-Watt metrics.

NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 OpenCL, CUDA, TensorFlow GPU Compute Benchmarks Here are the first of our benchmarks for the GeForce RTX 2070 graphics card that launched this week. In our inaugural Ubuntu Linux benchmarking with the GeForce RTX 2070 is a look at the OpenCL / CUDA GPU computing performance including with TensorFlow and various models being tested on the GPU. The benchmarks are compared to an assortment of available graphics cards and also include metrics for power consumption, performance-per-Watt, and performance-per-dollar.

AMD Raven Ridge Graphics On Linux vs. Lower-End NVIDIA / AMD GPUs This week we have delivered the first Linux benchmarks of the OpenGL/Vulkan graphics capabilities of AMD's new Raven Ridge desktop APUs with the Vega 8 on the Ryzen 3 2200G an the Vega 11 on Ryzen 5 2400G. Those tests have included comparisons to the integrated graphics capabilities of Intel processors as well as older AMD Kaveri APUs. For those interested in seeing how the Raven Ridge Vega graphics compare to lower-end Radeon and GeForce discrete graphics cards, here are those first Linux benchmarks.

20-Way NVIDIA GeForce / AMD Radeon GPU Comparison For Rise of The Tomb Raider On Vulkan/Linux Today Feral Interactive released their much anticipated Linux port of Rise of the Tomb Raider, the game that was released for Windows in January of 2016 and then released for macOS last week. Feral's Mac port was relying upon the Apple Metal API while the Linux port is now their second game (after F1 2017) exclusively relying upon the Vulkan graphics/compute API rather than OpenGL. This morning I posted the initial Radeon results using the RADV driver while here is the NVIDIA GeForce vs. AMD Radeon graphics card comparison on Ubuntu Linux using twenty different graphics cards.

September 2018 Drivers: The Current Linux Performance & Perf-Per-Watt From NVIDIA Kepler To Pascal vs. AMD There is one week to go until NVIDIA begins shipping the GeForce RTX 2080 "Turing" series but while waiting for that hardware, here is a look back at how various graphics cards are performing for Linux games from the GTX 1000 Pascal series back through the GTX 600 Kepler series. On the AMD side in this comparison is also going from Vega back to the GCN 1.0 Southern Islands. The Vulkan/OpenGL Linux gaming performance is being looked at as well as the overall system power consumption and performance-per-Watt.

20-Way AMD / NVIDIA Linux Gaming Benchmarks For The 2018 Holidays If you are hoping to pick-up a new graphics card during the upcoming holiday sales, here is a 20-way NVIDIA GeForce and AMD Radeon Linux gaming benchmark comparison using a wide assortment of GPUs while using the very newest graphics drivers and a variety of OpenGL/Vulkan titles.

AMD Radeon RX 590 Linux Benchmarks, 18-Way NVIDIA/AMD Gaming Comparison With the very newest AMDGPU Linux kernel patches, the Radeon RX 590 is now working correctly on Linux. Here's a look at how this latest Polaris graphics card is performing for Linux games against seventeen other AMD Radeon and NVIDIA GeForce graphics cards in a variety of OpenGL and Vulkan benchmarks.

The Radeon RX Vega Performance With AMDGPU DRM-Next 4.21 vs. NVIDIA Linux Gaming Given the AMDGPU changes building up for DRM-Next to premiere in Linux 4.21 that is on top of the AMDGPU performance boost with Linux 4.20, here are some benchmarks of Linux 4.19 vs. 4.20 Git vs. DRM-Next (Linux 4.21 material) with the Radeon RX Vega 64 compared to the relevant NVIDIA GeForce competition.

NVIDIA 396.54 Linux Driver Offers Big Performance Boost For Frequent Gamers Yesterday NVIDIA released the 396.54 Linux driver update and while from being another point release might feel like a mundane update hot on the heels of the GeForce RTX 2070/2080 series debut, it's actually a significant driver update for Linux gamers. Here are some benchmarks showcasing the performance fix that warranted this new driver release.

20-Way NVIDIA/AMD Vulkan Linux Gaming Performance Comparison For those curious about the current performance state for the recent wave of Vulkan-powered Linux games, which so far are primarily Linux game ports from Feral Interactive, aside from Valve's Dota 2 and Croteam's games, here are some fresh benchmarks using twenty different graphics cards on the latest drivers.

The Tighter NVIDIA GeForce vs. AMD Radeon Linux Gaming Battle With 396.54 + Mesa 18.3-dev Drivers Last week NVIDIA released the 396.54 driver that has a significant performance fix for OpenGL/Vulkan Linux performance due to a resource leak regression introduced at the start of the 390 driver series. With that updated driver (also as of yesterday back-ported to 390.87 too), there is a measurable boost in performance after running a few games on NVIDIA Linux systems. But at the same time, the Mesa 18.3-dev open-source graphics driver stack with RadeonSI/RADV continues improving on the open-source AMD front. Here is a fresh look at how the latest AMD Radeon and NVIDIA GeForce graphics cards compare using these latest drivers.

NVIDIA Gaming Performance Minimally Impacted By KPTI Patches Earlier this week when news was still emerging on the "Intel CPU bug" now known as Spectre and Meltdown I ran some Radeon gaming tests with the preliminary Linux kernel patches providing Kernel Page Table Isolation (KPTI) support. Contrary to the hysteria, the gaming performance was minimally impacted with those open-source Radeon driver tests while today are some tests using the latest NVIDIA driver paired with a KPTI-enabled kernel.

About The Author
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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 10,000 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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