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Next year could certainly be interesting in the world of Linux GPU drivers, specifically NVIDIA this time going by a talk they're going to have at the GPU Technology Conference.

On their website (thanks Phoronix) they're listing a session titled "Open Source, Linux Kernel, and NVIDIA", which is being presented by long-time NVIDIA engineer John Hubbard. The title alone is enough to really get you thinking, what exactly are they up to? Then you read the details of the talk, which makes it sound even more exciting and makes me very curious:

We'll report up-to-the-minute developments on NVIDIA's status and activities, and possibly (depending on last-minute developments) a few future plans and directions, regarding our contributions to Linux kernel; supporting Nouveau (the open source kernel driver for NVIDIA GPUs, that is in the Linux kernel), including signed firmware behavior, documentation, and patches; and NVIDIA kernel drivers.

Both AMD and Intel already have their drivers open, with developers paid to work on them and so perhaps NVIDIA will finally follow along? Stranger things have happened, so I wouldn't completely count NVIDIA out on that, although I'm not expecting them to make such a big shift. What do you think they're planning?

GTC is being hosted in San Jose, California and runs from March 23 - 26, 2020. The talk doesn't seem to have a set time or date yet.

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
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25 comments
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Kimyrielle 6 December 2019 at 10:15 pm UTC
I am sooo happy that AMD is a true choice again, so I don't need to worry about these guys open-sourcing their driver, or not. There is absolutely no way that my next PC will feature an NVidia-made GPU. NVidia is a textbook example why (near-)monopolies are bad, and also a textbook example for a thoroughly evil company.
Arten 6 December 2019 at 10:20 pm UTC
GuestAlready bought an AMD RX 5700 XT too late Nvidia.
Heh, i ordered it today morning :-D too late Nvidia.
sub 6 December 2019 at 10:27 pm UTC
Grim_reaperInteresting. I think that earths polar caps will melt before NVIDIA open up their driver. But we'll see what happens in the next year.Maybe NVIDIA will give us a big surprise in conference and open up their driver code One can hope that.But in reality that doesn't happen easily. So my expectations are low...

I don't know why people often think Nvidia has to open up their blob in an effort to support the/an open source driver stack. This, indeed, won't probably ever happen for various reasons.

How about providing documentation and getting that ridiculous firmware situation out of the way?
sub 6 December 2019 at 10:32 pm UTC
PatolaWon't happen, not in any meaningful way. I doubt NVIDIA will ever allow their buyers to control their own property. They do not allow passthrough virtualization nor high-throughput video recording on their consumer products by purposeful disabling these features on them, letting them enabled only in their corporate GPUs. Example, https://www.reddit.com/r/linux_gaming/comments/e47rr7/ever_wanted_something_faster_than_xcomposite_or/ -- just see how long that hack lasts.

Good point and very much this.

Locking the cards by not providing information, controlling the driver stack and restrict them to run only signed firmware is not a coincidence. Nvidia does this to diversify their silicons by software.
A true fully open software stack would simply undermine that endeavor.

Patola is right and it's that simple: Won't happen.


Last edited by sub on 6 December 2019 at 10:32 pm UTC
14 7 December 2019 at 4:28 am UTC
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Take what I say here as an educated guess but not a prophecy:

NVIDIA is not going to do anything with the gaming drivers or firmware. They are going to make it easier to use their NVIDIA cards in machine learning deployments, like "the cloud" and companies with their own data centers... you know, the kind of stuff hackers can rent for 24 hours to crack a DB full of credentials... oh yeah, and more appropriate things like Audi driver aids.
Grim_reaper 7 December 2019 at 6:54 am UTC
slaapliedje
Grim_reaperInteresting. I think that earths polar caps will melt before NVIDIA open up their driver. But we'll see what happens in the next year.Maybe NVIDIA will give us a big surprise in conference and open up their driver code One can hope that.But in reality that doesn't happen easily. So my expectations are low...
Oh, so a few years from now?

Of course. When the sea level rises NVIDIA will realize that it was a mistake to keep their driver closed. In that case it is too late because then everything is going to dissolve into chaos in earth. And that is bad for business. When you add green little men attacking from Mars to this scenario you have can of worms ready if you know what I mean. Well seriously speaking I think that AMD and Intel are two steps ahead already and and NVIDIA must do something to keep up with them. So we can expect some concessions in driver business from NVIDIA.That's what I think
raneon 7 December 2019 at 9:20 am UTC
Well, as long as Nvidia is not doing everything better (technically and behavior) than AMD, Nvidia remains No.1 on my personal embargo list. Open source drivers do make a real difference and I will never ever go back to the stone age Nvidia binary blob hell :-)
mirv 7 December 2019 at 1:18 pm UTC
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Just want to add that I don't see any specific mention of x86_64 architecture, or desktop level GPUs.
const 7 December 2019 at 1:40 pm UTC
Wasn't there talk that one of the biggest showstoppers for nouveau was beeing unabled to set some specific modes to make the hardware work at full speed at all and that it was related to the signed firmware? I see hints that this might change now. They probably won't open source their blob and even if it was open sourced, it almost certainly would need to be heavily refactored to be included in kernel/mesa, so documentation might just do as well.


Last edited by const on 7 December 2019 at 1:41 pm UTC
jens 7 December 2019 at 3:29 pm UTC
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The outline of this upcoming session only says that it will contain an update on the "future plans and directions". This can be anything from "we announce an open rewrite of our Linux driver" to "we will keep the status quo because it works for us". While this talk will be certainly interesting I would be very careful to interpret to much into it before that talk has been held.

To be honest, sharing this outline as "sort of open-source driver announcement" like Phoronix did is just plain wrong in my opinion and will only lead to further freaking people out due believing in promises Nvidia never made. Other people blindly sharing this news on Reddit etc. will further emphasize this. I really don't like this kind of journalism.
Fortunately the headline and posting here at GoL is a bit more objective. Thanks!


Last edited by jens on 7 December 2019 at 3:33 pm UTC
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