NVIDIA Vulkan “NVK” Open Source Driver Sees Increased Activity This Week

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The NVIDIA Vulkan “NVK” open source driver in development for Mesa has had a busy week of new development activity on this in-development solution.

NVK was started by Red Hat engineers as an open-source NVIDIA Vulkan driver being worked on by Nouveau developers like Red Hat’s Karol Herbst. This Vulkan driver is still a work in progress and has not yet been merged with the main Mesa and it will probably still be some time before it is ready for Linux and other gamers.

Meanwhile, Nouveau’s biggest hurdle remains on the kernel driver side with the lack of retiming support for GeForce GTX 900 “Maxwell” and newer GPUs, meaning NVIDIA GPUs are stuck at their low start clock frequencies. Nouveau performance is very poor for the GTX 900 series and newer. The GTX 600/700 series are aging and can reclock to their optimal clock rates, but must be done manually via the command line by interested users. Until this is fixed and the PMU firmware issue complicates these efforts, the performance of OpenGL and Vulkan Nouveau will continue to suffer significantly.

Those curious about Nouveau NVK’s work in progress can follow the progress via the Mesa NVK branch of Nouveau where development is currently centralized. Jason Ekstrand with Collabora in particular has been very active this week talking about this Vulkan pilot. Ekstrand was one of the original developers when Intel launched its open source ANV Vulkan driver and has continued that effort for years at the company, so he will be a valuable contributor to NVK.

More format capabilities have been wired in, Maxwell fixes, zeroing of client memory objects, support for creating linear images, numerous bug fixes and a variety of other additions have been added. brought to NVK this week. Hopefully NVK’s development will continue at full speed so that it will be ready for Linux gamers by the time the New DRM resync situation is sorted out, likely thanks to NVIDIA GSP (GPU System Processor) integration.

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