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Nvidia releases open-source GPU kernel modules

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NVIDIA is going to make the source code of Linux GPU kernel modules public, starting with the R515 driver. That makes the work of Linux developers a bit easier.

The source code of the modules can now be found in the Nvidia Open GPU Kernel Modules repo on GitHub. The company announced the release in a blog post. “This is an important step in improving the user experience of NVIDIA GPUs in Linux. It allows Linux developers to debug, integrate and contribute.”

The open-source modules are especially welcome among Linux distro providers, including Canonical and SUSE. They can deliver the modules directly in Ubuntu and SUSE Linux Enterprise.

“It improves the out-of-the-box user experience of NVIDIA GPU drivers on Linux,” said Nvidia. “Developers can debug faster by tracing code paths and see how kernel event scheduling responds to their workloads.” The code is directly usable for data centre GPUs in the NVIDIA Turing and NVIDIA Ampere series.

Red Hat responds

Red Hat CEO Christian Schaller commented on the new release in a blog post. “This is just the kernel part. Much of a modern graphics driver resides in firmware and userspace components — and those are still closed source. Nevertheless, it means we now have an Nvidia kernel driver capable of handling the GPL-only APIs in the Linux kernel.”

“In the long run, hopefully, Nvidia will provide access at the same level as Intel and AMD. That means support for new chipsets from day one, a powerful open-source Mesa driver and the ability to sign Nvidia drivers for features like a secure boot.”

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