Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

NVIDIA graphics drivers to go multithreaded

Filed under
Software

techreport.com spoke recently with Ben de Waal, NVIDIA's Vice President of GPU software, and he revealed that NVIDIA has plans to produce multithreaded ForceWare graphics drivers for its GeForce graphics products.

Multithreading in the video driver should allow performance increases when running 3D games and applications on dual-core CPUs and multiprocessor PCs. De Waal estimated that dual-core processors could see performance boosts somewhere between five and 30% with these drivers.

Most imminent on the horizon right now is ForceWare release 75, which will bring a number of improvements for SLI performance and 64-bit Windows, among other things, but release 75 will not be multithreaded. The next major iteration of the driver, release 80, is slated to bring support for multiple threads. We may not see this version for a few months; NVIDIA hasn't given an exact timetable for the completion of release 80.

Out of curiosity, I asked de Waal why NVIDIA's drivers don't already take advantage of a second CPU. After all, the driver is a separate task from the application calling it, and Hyper-Threaded and SMP systems are rather common. He explained that drivers in Windows normally run synchronously with the applications making API calls, so that they must return an answer before the API call is complete. On top of that, Windows drivers run in kernel mode, so the OS isn't particularly amenable to multithreaded drivers. NVIDIA has apparently been working on multithreaded drivers for some time now, and they've found a way to fudge around the OS limitations.

De Waal cited several opportunities for driver performance gains with multithreading. Among them: vertex processing. He noted that NVIDIA's drivers currently do load balancing for vertex processing, offloading some work to the CPU when the GPU is busy. This sort of vertex processing load could be spun off into a separate thread and processed in parallel.

Some of the driver's other functions don't lend themselves so readily to parallel threading, so NVIDIA will use a combination of fully parallel threads and linear pipelining. We've seen the benefits of linear pipelining in our LAME audio encoding tests; this technique uses a simple buffering scheme to split work between two threads without creating the synchronization headaches of more parallel threading techniques.

Despite the apparent gains offered by multithreading, de Waal expressed some skepticism about the prospects for thread-level parallelism for CPUs. He was concerned that multithreaded games could blunt the impact of multithreaded graphics drivers, among other things.

Source.

More in Tux Machines

Munich Switching to Windows from Linux Is Proof That Microsoft Is Still an Evil Company

Reports about the city of Munich authorities that are considering the replacement of Linux with Microsoft products mostly comes from one man, the Deputy Mayor of Munich, who is also a long-term self-declared Windows fan. Munich is the poster child for the adoption of a Linux distribution and the replacement of the old Windows OS. It provided a powerful incentive for other cities to do the same, and it's been a thorn in Microsoft's side for a very long time. The adoption of open source software in Munich started back in 2004 and it took the local authorities over 10 years to finish the process. It's a big infrastructure, but in the end they managed to do it. As you can imagine, Microsoft was not happy about it. Even the CEO of Microsoft, Steve Ballmer, tried to stop the switch to Linux, but he was too late to the party. Read more

Dangling the Linux Carrot

Sometimes the direct sell method isn’t the best way to close the deal. How do you think the whole “play hard to get” thing got traction throughout the years? That method is successful in any number of applications. And really, I wasn’t wearing my Linux Advocacy hat that evening…I was just a guy relaxing after a day’s work. Read more

Red Hat Sets New 12-Month High at $61.97 (RHT)

They now have a $70.00 price target on the stock, up previously from $57.00. Three equities research analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and eighteen have issued a buy rating to the company’s stock. Red Hat has an average rating of “Buy” and an average price target of $63.50. Read more

Systemd 216 Piles On More Features, Aims For New User-Space VT

Lennart Poettering announced the systemd 216 release on Tuesday and among its changes is a more complete systemd-resolved that has nearly complete caching DNS and LLMNR stub resolver, a new systemd terminal library, and a number of new commands. The systemd 216 release also has improvements to various systemd sub-commands, an nss-mymachines NSS module was added, a new networkctl client tool, KDBUS updates against Linux 3.17's memfd, networkd improvements, a new systemd-terminal library for implementing full TTY stream parsing and rendering, a new systemd-journal-upload utility, an LZ4 compressor for journald, a new systemd-escape tool, a new systemd-firstboot component, and much more. Read more