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Nouveau's OpenGL Performance Approaches The NVIDIA Driver

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Hardware
Software

As I began to share over the weekend, the community-created Nouveau driver that's open-source and is written by clean-room reverse-engineering the NVIDIA binary display driver, has reached a serious milestone. For low-end NVIDIA GPUs, the Nouveau driver based upon the Mesa Gallium3D architecture is now as fast, or even faster, than NVIDIA's official proprietary driver.

Crossing this milestone happens with the Linux 2.6.39 kernel, which has not even had its first release candidate yet with the Linux 2.6.38 kernel being released just one week ago. The early change that so greatly affects the Nouveau OpenGL performance is the merging of KMS/DRI2 page-flipping for the Nouveau DRM (Direct Rendering Manager) driver within the Git tree that will form the Linux 2.6.39 release. In last week's pull, DRI2/KMS page-flipping was enabled for the Nouveau DRM along with z-compression and various other changes that have built-up since the 2.6.38 kernel merge window was open back in January.

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