Nvidia announced that it is releasing its Linux GPU kernel driver as open-source, starting with the R515 version of the driver. It also has dual GPL and MIT licenses, and the source code for these kernel modules can currently be found in the NVIDIA Open GPU Kernel Modules repo on GitHub.
Nvidia says this release is an important step toward improving the experience of its GPUs in Linux, tighter integration with the operating system, and developer debugging, integration, and feedback. For Linux distribution providers, open-source modules increase ease of use, improve user experience, and package drivers within the operating system. Developers can trace code paths and view kernel event schedules for faster debugging. Enterprise software developers can now seamlessly integrate drivers into Linux kernels customized for their projects.
Every time a new version of the driver is released in the future, Nvidia will publish the corresponding source code on GitHub. Patches submitted by the Linux community are reviewed and, if approved, will be integrated into future driver releases. Nvidia believes that through the joint efforts of Linux users and the community, the quality and security of its GPU drivers can be further improved.
The first version of the open-source GPU kernel driver is R515, which provides a fully built and packaged version of the driver in addition to the source code. The code is already available for the Turing architecture and Ampere architecture series GPUs used in the data center. This is thanks to Nvidia’s phased rollout of the GSP-driven architecture over the past year, making the transition easy for customers using these computing cards.