NVIDIA Firmware Blobs Get Switched Up For Helping Pascal-Powered Laptops With Nouveau
Written by Michael Larabel in Nouveau on 6 September 2018 at 05:12 AM EDT. 18 Comments
NOUVEAU --
There was some NVIDIA signed firmware activity today in the linux-firmware.git tree for Pascal GPUs... Sadly, it's not the long sought after PMU firmware or any breakthrough in allowing the open-source Nouveau driver to properly support re-clocking or other long missing functionality from this open-source NVIDIA driver. Rather, it's just to help out newer laptops with Pascal discrete graphics.

New scrubber/ACR firmware was uploaded to the Linux Firmware Git repository for GP102/GP104/GP106/GP107 graphics processors. This firmware update switches the scrubber/ACR firmware bits to load what was previously just reserved for the GP108 graphics processor. It turns out that the newer GP108 scrubber/ACR firmware works better than the older Pascal firmware for a number of newer laptops. Those laptops didn't work with those older signed firmware images in conjunction with the Nouveau Linux driver.

So the change is in place if you are trying to use Nouveau on your modern laptop with NVIDIA graphics.

But due to this signed firmware situation and the complications it introduces and the lack of automatic re-clocking, even on laptops where for some it's possible to forcefully re-clock the GPU with out-of-tree code thanks to fan management being controlled by the system and not NVIDIA firmware blobs, the NVIDIA proprietary driver remains the only really viable option for most Linux desktop users.

If you want to use a NVIDIA desktop GPU with the open-source Nouveau driver, the best support remains with the aging GeForce GTX 600/700 "Kepler" series (or GTX 750 "Maxwell1" on the low-end) and doesn't require messing around with any signed firmware blobs.

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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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