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NVIDIA Open Sources Its GPU Kernel Modules

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Nvidia has finally published the R515 driver release of its Linux GPU kernel modules as open source with dual GPL/MIT license. The company made the source code available via the Nvidia Open GPU Kernel Modules repo on GitHub. This release is aimed at improving the experience of using NVIDIA GPUs in Linux, for tighter integration with the OS and for developers to debug, integrate, and contribute back. For Linux distribution providers, the open-source modules increase ease of use. They also improve the out-of-the-box user experience to sign and distribute the NVIDIA GPU driver.

The first release of the open GPU kernel modules is R515. Along with the source code, fully-built and packaged versions of the drivers are provided. In the future, functionality such as HMM will be a foundational component for confidential computing on the NVIDIA Hopper architecture.

In this release, support for GeForce and Workstation GPUs is alpha quality. GeForce and Workstation users can use this driver on Turing and NVIDIA Ampere architecture GPUs to run Linux desktops and use features such as multiple displays, G-SYNC, and NVIDIA RTX ray tracing in Vulkan and NVIDIA OptiX.

The R515 release contains precompiled versions of both the closed-source driver and the open-source kernel modules. These versions are mutually exclusive, and the user can make the choice at install time.

“Linux distributors like Canonical and SUSE are able to immediately package the open kernel modules with Ubuntu and SUSE Linux Enterprise Distributions,” an official blog post said.

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