NVIDIA has announced the release beta version of its driver 470.42.01 for Linux . Despite not being a stable release yet, it aims to be the beginning of a revolution with which the company intends to recover in a field that it has traditionally dominated, but has also neglected: that of Linux home users.
NVIDIA has had many interests in Linux for years, but these have always revolved around servers, supercomputing and more recently artificial intelligence. Within this approach, Linux end users have been dealing for a long time with a driver that does not make things easier for them, all because of the curious stubbornness of the company in its intentions to impose a graphical stack that works under its own conditions, of different way than established by kernel and Mesa .
Seeing the turning point that the NVIDIA 470 driver can represent, we are going to divide the article into several parts in order to clearly cover the news most important .
DLSS en Linux mediante Proton/Steam Play
The first thing that stands out from the NVIDIA 470.42.01 driver is DLSS, the well-known supersampling technology supported by artificial intelligence that greatly improves the performance of video games . As we said in a previous post, NVIDIA has worked with Valve to bring DLSS to the compatibility layer Proton , supporting first the Vulkan API and then the DirectX to Vulkan translators (DXVK and VKD3D).
Digging into the technical details a bit, running DLSS will be made possible by adding an NVIDIA NGX build for use in Wine and Proton. “A new library, nvngx.dll, has been added to enable driver-side support and run Windows applications that make use of DLSS. Changes in Proton, Wine and other third party software are needed for this feature ” .
DLSS support through Vulkan and Proton / Steam Play is now available and initially covers Doom Eternal, No Man’s Sky and Wolfenstein Yougblood games , while support through DXVK translators (DirectX 9, 10 and 11 to Vulkan ) and VKD3D (DirectX 12 to Vulkan) should arrive in the fall of this year.
The second great novelty of the future driver (remember that it is in beta) from NVIDIA for Linux is the XWayland support . After many years of tug of war and after the failure of EGLStreams, the green giant has decided to move towards adopting standards and being able to run hardware- XWayland accelerated with OpenGL and Vulkan. However, this support, which is in its initial phase , requires having KMS enabled, a specific version of XWayland, libxcb 1.13 and egl-wayland 1.1.7.
The fact of being in the initial phase means that it is not able to run the NVIDIA configuration application, it does not have hardware decoding support through VDPAU, it is unable to support multi-GPU configurations, there is no presence of Genlock / Frame lock and lacks front buffer rendering for GLX applications.
NVIDIA’s support for XWayland is by no means mature, but it appears that the company intends to correct the issues in the foreseeable future. As soon as it is mature, users of the aforementioned GPU brand should be able to run video games (and other 3D graphics processing tasks) from a Wayland session with good performance (the goal is to match Xorg ).
Improvements for SteamVR
The addition of the Vukan extensions ‘VK_QUEUE_GLOBAL_PRIORITY_REALTIME_EXT’ and ‘VK_EXT_global_priority’ enable asyncroine reprojection support as of version 1.18.2 of SteamVR , the tool provided by the Valve platform that allows the user to experience the contents of virtual reality with the hardware of your choice.
However, it is important to note that the extension ‘VK_QUEUE_GLOBAL_PRIORITY_REALTIME_EXT’ is only supported from Pascal generation charts (GTX10 or GTX 1000) and that “global priorities other than ‘VK_QUEUE_GLOBAL_PRIORITY_MEDIUM_EXT’ require the ability to root or the ‘ CAP_SYS_NICE ‘” .
Other improvements and news of interest
Starting with NVIDIA Linux driver 470.42.01, it will not be necessary to disable flipping in NvFBC’s “direct capture” mode to capture applications , so G-SYNC can now be used simultaneously with NvFBC direct capture. .
We close the news sections mentioning the addition of PRIME Display Offload support when the source of the screen download is AMDGPU, more Vulkan extensions and the typical bug fixes found throughout actively maintained software.
As we can see, the NVIDIA 470.42.01 driver promises to be the beginning of a true turning point for home Linux users , who in the future will be able to use DLSS normally and may begin to be able to run existing Wayland sessions.
Linux home user has never been a priority for the green giant, but between the appearance of FidelityFX Super Resolution (announcement that NVIDIA responded to by bringing DLSS to Proton), the good performance offered by AMDGPU with games, the promising graphics Dedicated to Intel and the failure of EGLStreams, NVIDIA has been forced to make changes if it wanted to stay strong in an industry that it has traditionally dominated at will.
We end by saying that the 470 series of the NVIDIA driver for Linux will be the last to offer support for Kepler, so the correct use of Wayland in that generation of graphics (and in the previous ones for sure) could depend on the performance offered by Nouveau, the driver Open Source included in the Linux kernel for the green giant’s GPUs.
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