Nvidia GeForce: Linux graphics driver improves Wayland support

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Comprehensive hardware acceleration for the Wayland graphics architecture is a highlight of new Linux graphics drivers from Nvidia. But that is by no means the only thing that the first driver of the 470 version line comes up with. With the 470.42.01 graphics driver, notebooks with AMD processors and GeForce graphics chips can now also switch on the Nvidia GPU during operation; There are further improvements for anti-aliasing and for virtual reality glasses.

The fresh driver also brings support for recently introduced graphics chips, but will soon drop support for some older GPUs.

Nvidia’s proprietary graphics driver provides better Wayland support primarily through one property: It can now also handle hardware acceleration via OpenGL and Vulkan for applications that run with Xwayland. This is a stripped-down X server from the Xorg project, with which old software written for X11 works in desktop environments running with Wayland. Many 3D games need it when Gnome-Shell or KDE Plasma use Wayland mode, and have therefore run extremely slowly with Nvidia’s driver so far – this has made Wayland mode extremely unattractive with this driver.

The acceleration in Xwayland only succeeds with that Released on July 9, Xwayland 1/21/2. This is due to the peculiarities of the proprietary Nvidia graphics driver, to which Xwayland was tuned.

Fedora Linux 34 integrated the necessary adjustments into its Xwayland package weeks ago for test purposes, because Fedora developers have evaluated the Xwayland improvements in cooperation with Nvidia. One of them came up in mid-June when the first beta of the 470 driver series was released all sorts of problems pointed outwhich showed up with Nvidia’s graphics driver in the Wayland modes of Gnome-Shell and KDE Plasma; some have already been addressed, but there may be more lurking. In any case, the Xwayland acceleration only works under certain conditions, the Nvidia is explained in more detail in the driver documentation.

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A few weeks or months should therefore still pass before the whole thing runs smoothly for the majority of users. Until then, you can continue to operate Gnome-Shell and KDE Plasma in X11 mode with the Xorg X server to avoid problems. At some point this should end: Gnome developers have already indicated several times that they want to remove this operating mode in the medium to long term in order to simplify development and maintenance of the user interface. The last major obstacle on the way was that Nvidia’s driver runs properly in Wayland mode.

All of this should further inspire the Wayland graphic architecture, which is just gaining more and more acceptance after many rather sluggish years of development. An article recently explained this in more detail and showed how this could become a problem for desktops beyond Gnome and KDE:

In addition, Nvidia’s 470 driver extends the support for the Linux technology “Prime”, with which a second graphics chip can be switched on if required; Nvidia markets such a technology in notebooks under the catchphrase “Optimus”. Thanks to one of the improvements, the driver can now also be used for devices with processors from AMD – this is relevant for a number of modern gaming notebooks that pair Ryzen 5000H CPUs with GeForce GPUs from the RTX 3000 series.

The new version of Nvidia’s proprietary Linux driver also supports an extension of the Vulkan programming interface, which StreamVR requires for asynchronous reprojection and motion smoothing. This is an interpolation technique that is intended to prevent motion sickness: If a GPU does not render a new frame quickly enough, an old frame is calculated with new movement data and displayed in the VR glasses.

Also new is a library for Proton or Wine, with which Windows applications running over them can use Nvidia’s AI upscaler Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS); however, this function requires new versions of Proton, Wine and libraries to support Direct3D under Linux.

The Website to download the Nvidia driver for Linux names further innovations of the 470 driver. It now also supports the GeForce RTX 3070 Ti and GeForce RTX 3080 Ti, but at the same time also all chips that the previous driver generation of graphics chips knew how to address. But that will change soon: Support is due in autumn kicked out for Kepler GPUsthat sit on GeForce graphics cards of the GTX 600 and 700 series (with the exception of the GTX 750 [Ti] with Maxwell GPUs). Nvidia wants to maintain a “legacy” driver line for Kepler GPUs until 2024. Nvidia proceeds in a similar way with its own Windows graphics driver.


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