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NVIDIA are working towards better support for NVIDIA Optimus on Linux

Posted by , | Views: 10,173

Thanks to a little Twitter tip, we've learned today that NVIDIA are indeed working to provide better support for NVIDIA Optimus on Linux.

Currently, if you have a laptop with NVIDIA Optimus the official NVIDIA driver gives you the option between using the Intel GPU or switching over to the NVIDIA GPU. It doesn't handle it like you would expect it to on Windows, where it would offload the work to the more powerful NVIDIA GPU. Not an ideal situation, to switch between the two GPUs and from when I had a laptop with one (some time ago) it required logging out before it would take effect.

There's a forum topic talking about it on the official NVIDIA forum, which has been open since 2016. Aaron Plattner from NVIDIA said they were looking into it, but that was also back in 2016. A few hours ago, Plattner again gave an update in that post about it:

Hi folks,

Yes, it's still being worked on. Kyle laid the groundwork with the server-side vendor-neutral dispatch code that's in X.Org xserver 1.20. There's still some more work to be done there and support for it needs to be wired up inside our driver, but basic support for loading NVIDIA's GLX as a vendor in the server is in place. Kyle is putting together a proposal for the next steps.

Since I'm not currently up to speed on all the developments surrounding it, I thought it was quite interesting to learn. Hopefully some of you will too.

There are other ways to do it currently on Linux, like Bumblebee but having it done officially would be great. The less hassle Linux users and gamers have to go through, the better it is for everyone.

Hat tip to Luke.

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48 comments
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Leopard 15 August 2018 at 10:59 pm UTC
Awesome , currently Nvidia Prime on Ubuntu 18.04 is a disaster
Teq 15 August 2018 at 10:59 pm UTC
I just got a laptop with Optimus and was bummed to find out (the hard way) that bumblebee doesn't support Vulkan. Hopefully this solution will.
yahya 15 August 2018 at 11:09 pm UTC
I use Bumblebee.
But doesn't work for Vulkan.

An official support would be great
Ketil 15 August 2018 at 11:30 pm UTC
I tried optimus a few years ago, but the laptop didn't have a good enough cooling solution to play games requiring a dedicated GPU. I didn't try with a laptop cooler, but I don't think I would use it enough to make it worth purchasing. I rather play games on my desktop computer, and let the laptop be for work only.
14 16 August 2018 at 12:00 am UTC
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I've messed up my display settings multiple times on my laptop that has both an IGP and discrete Nvidia graphics. Thank goodness I had other computers to search the internet for help! I'm afraid to try it again because of those experiences.
Swiftpaw 16 August 2018 at 12:49 am UTC
Is this feature in place yet for AMD?
cc2600 16 August 2018 at 1:26 am UTC
It would be nice, right now I just leave it on the nvidia card unless I am going mobile in which case I can switch to the intel chip to save battery life. It's a minor inconvenience but a reboot isn't that big of a deal. It's better than taking the performance loss with bumblebee, in my opinion. Also the nvidia card does scale it's clock as well so overheating isn't an issue, on this laptop at least.

Honestly though, I wish I had gone with AMD, and probably will next time.
Shmerl 16 August 2018 at 1:32 am UTC
SwiftpawIs this feature in place yet for AMD?

Doesn't AMD work with upstream PRIME properly already?

https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/PRIME

The only reason Nvidia is in such a mess is because they don't care to upstream their driver.


Last edited by Shmerl at 16 August 2018 at 1:34 am UTC. Edited 3 times.
Swiftpaw 16 August 2018 at 2:23 am UTC
Shmerl
SwiftpawIs this feature in place yet for AMD?

Doesn't AMD work with upstream PRIME properly already?

https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/PRIME

The only reason Nvidia is in such a mess is because they don't care to upstream their driver.

From your Archwiki link, it sounds like it's working, but you have to use an env variable for programs you want to run with your discrete GPU. I guess it's not automatic yet, where it moves rendering tasks over to the discrete when it somehow detects that rendering demands are high. I think that's how it's supposed to work, anyway.
stretch611 16 August 2018 at 4:00 am UTC
My laptop with an optimus card fried less than 1 month ago... And yes, I believe that it had to do with having the GPU set to nVidia 100% of the time.

Thanks to driver installation hell I was finally at the point where I bought a AMD Ryzen 7/Radeon RX580 laptop to replace it. Admittedly, the last laptop was the 2nd I had with an optimus and it was not as bad as drivers with the 1st one back in early 2013, but why deal with the extra hassle if you do not need to.

With AMD working much better with linux now than it was previously, nVidia might be starting to see the light that a few lost sales in the future will start adding up. They are probably trying prevent this from happening.
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