NVIDIA Firmware Blobs Get Updated To Help Some Pascal GPUs With Nouveau
Written by Michael Larabel in Nouveau on 7 June 2019 at 01:07 PM EDT. 30 Comments
An updated firmware configuration should help some GeForce GTX 1000 "Pascal" users with their limited open-source driver support, but the situation remains a mess. Besides the fact of being binary blobs, it's more complicated this time around with the interfaces changing for what is expected by the Nouveau DRM kernel driver.

Hitting today in linux-firmware.git were changing the GP102/GP104/GP106/GP107 firmware blobs around the SEC2 RTOS block to point to what's used by the GP108 graphics card. This firmware update/change was needed since the existing signed firmware files weren't working correctly on newer Pascal graphics cards.

Usually it's just a matter of overwriting/updating the firmware files, but due to interface breakage, it means an updated kernel DRM driver is needed to properly use the new files and to keep the old files still in the linux-firmware tree as not to regress users on older kernels.

The updated DRM kernel driver bits for dealing with the changed SEC2 RTOS firmware interfaces can currently be found in the Nouveau DRM tree maintained by Red Hat's Ben Skeggs.

But even with this latest Pascal firmware switching, the open-source Pascal support remains in poor shape... In particular, the same problem plagues Pascal as it does Maxwell/Volta (and ultimately Turing too, but there we're still waiting on the initial firmware files) of not having PMU access with the current firmware images in order to implement proper re-clocking support. As such, all the cards past the GTX 950 series remain very slow with Nouveau due to being stuck to their boot clock frequencies rather than their optimal base/boost clock frequencies. But if/when NVIDIA will help straight out this situation remains to be seen. For now those wanting open-source NVIDIA GPU support are best off with the GeForce GTX 600/700 Kepler series.
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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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