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NVK Vulkan Driver Lands in Main Mesa Branch!

The brand-new open-source Vulkan driver NVK makes its debut in Mesa.

In Brief

  • NVK driver is merged to Mesa main.
  • It will be available in Mesa 23.3.
  • Linux Kernel userspace API changes expected to arrive in Kernel 6.6

NVK Lands in Mesa

Exciting news for the Linux gaming communities as NVK, the highly-anticipated fully open-source Vulkan driver for Nvidia GPUs, has officially landed in the main Mesa branch. This milestone marks a significant step forward in the FOSS world of graphics drivers thanks to the relentless efforts of dedicated contributors from Collabora, Red Hat, and other developers.

In the upcoming Mesa 23.3 release, NVK will be introduced as an experimental driver. While this is a major leap, it’s important to note that NVK is still a work in progress, and users are advised to exercise caution when testing it out. The development team expects that it will take considerable time to iron out bugs and achieve a comprehensive feature set with optimal performance. However, this release signifies their confidence in the driver’s core and sets the stage for exciting advancements in the future.

NVK lands in Mesa main
NVK lands in Mesa main

Currently, NVK extends support to Turing GPUs, including RTX 20XX and GTX 16XX series and later models. But there’s more to look forward to! The team has plans to expand support even further, targeting older hardware, such as Kepler GPUs from the GeForce 600 and 700 series.

Notably, NVK is built on the Nouveau kernel driver, the foundation for the old OpenGL drivers. However, a fresh userspace API is required to accommodate the new Vulkan capabilities. The API will be incorporated into Linux Kernel 6.6 and subsequent versions. Currently, the new API awaits its inclusion in the drm-misc-next branch, eagerly awaiting the next pull from Linus. Expect Linux Kernel 6.6 to release around the end of 2023.

The community is excited as quite a few games have already been showcased on NVK, natively and through the remarkable DXVK translation layer. However, it’s worth noting that NVK isn’t yet at a stage where you can expect all applications to run seamlessly. Given the driver’s experimental status, some apps may encounter compatibility issues or performance quirks.

As for the technical specifications, NVK currently supports Vulkan 1.0. However, the talented development team revealed that most features required for Vulkan 1.2 and even some of the Vulkan 1.3 features are already available through extensions, demonstrating their dedication to future-proofing the driver.

For the adventurous souls who can’t wait to experience NVK, be prepared to compile your Kernel to integrate this cutting-edge driver. In the spirit of open-source collaboration, the team encourages users to report any bugs they encounter at the Mesa bug tracker, which will undoubtedly help refine NVK further.

The development team acknowledges the eagerness of users to see their favourite features implemented swiftly. However, they urge patience, emphasizing that NVK is an early-stage driver that demands careful prioritization of their efforts. Rest assured; they are committed to gradually expanding app compatibility and feature support, providing an unparalleled gaming experience for Nvidia GPU owners on Linux systems.

Via Collabora blog

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