Tuesday, June 19th 2012

NVIDIA Responds to Questions About Consistency of Features Across Platforms

NVIDIA posted a statement following last week's interactive session lead by Linus Torvalds, at a Finnish University, which didn't end too well for NVIDIA. The audience complained to Torvalds about lack of consistency between features available to Windows and Linux, and NVIDIA's stubbornness to help the community come up with alternative solutions to get the advertised features (such as Optimus) to work. NVIDIA's statement focuses on exactly that, consistency of features across platforms, and states that it is one of NVIDIA's priorities.

The statement by NVIDIA doesn't refute any of what a member of the audience complained about. There is still no proper Optimus feature made available by NVIDIA to Linux users, but a reminder that NVIDIA recently made changes to its drivers that makes interface with an alternative system software made by various open-source communities, the Bumblebee Project, easier. Said the statement "While we understand that some people would prefer us to provide detailed documentation on all of our GPU internals, or be more active in Linux kernel community development discussions, we have made a decision to support Linux on our GPUs by leveraging NVIDIA common code, rather than the Linux common infrastructure. While this may not please everyone, it does allow us to provide the most consistent GPU experience to our customers, regardless of platform or operating system."

The statement follows:

Supporting Linux is important to NVIDIA, and we understand that there are people who are as passionate about Linux as an open source platform as we are passionate about delivering an awesome GPU experience.

Recently, there have been some questions raised about our lack of support for our Optimus notebook technology. When we launched our Optimus notebook technology, it was with support for Windows 7 only. The open source community rallied to work around this with support from the Bumblebee Open Source Project (http://bumblebee-project.org/). And as a result, we've recently made Installer and readme changes in our R295 drivers that were designed to make interaction with Bumblebee easier.

While we understand that some people would prefer us to provide detailed documentation on all of our GPU internals, or be more active in Linux kernel community development discussions, we have made a decision to support Linux on our GPUs by leveraging NVIDIA common code, rather than the Linux common infrastructure. While this may not please everyone, it does allow us to provide the most consistent GPU experience to our customers, regardless of platform or operating system.

As a result:
  • Linux end users benefit from same-day support for new GPUs , OpenGL version and extension parity between NVIDIA Windows and NVIDIA Linux support, and OpenGL performance parity between NVIDIA Windows and NVIDIA Linux.
  • We support a wide variety of GPUs on Linux, including our latest GeForce, Quadro, and Tesla-class GPUs, for both desktop and notebook platforms. Our drivers for these platforms are updated regularly, with seven updates released so far this year for Linux alone. The latest Linux drivers can be downloaded from www.nvidia.com/object/unix.html.
  • We are a very active participant in the ARM Linux kernel. For the latest 3.4 ARM kernel – the next-gen kernel to be used on future Linux, Android, and Chrome distributions – NVIDIA ranks second in terms of total lines changed and fourth in terms of number of changesets for all employers or organizations.
At the end of the day, providing a consistent GPU experience across multiple platforms for all of our customers continues to be one of our key goals.
Source: Phoronix
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18 Comments on NVIDIA Responds to Questions About Consistency of Features Across Platforms

#1
entropy13
Considering that Linux is only a tiny amount of the whole "operating system" environment, and Torvald's complaints only pertain to most probably 1% of Linux systems, Torvald ended up making a fool out of himself. For every one Linux system out there that could have used the features he complains about, there are nine Linux systems out there that have no use for the features he complains about.
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#2
HalfAHertz
by: entropy13
Considering that Linux is only a tiny amount of the whole "operating system" environment, and Torvald's complaints only pertain to most probably 1% of Linux systems, Torvald ended up making a fool out of himself. For every one Linux system out there that could have used the features he complains about, there are nine Linux systems out there that have no use for the features he complains about.
That may be true for personal computers but out there in the server and hpc world where, you know nvidia is kind of trying to become relevant and an important player, linux is more like 75% of all computers... and as far as i know those fancy Tesla cards need drivers too because fairy dust don't cut it.
Posted on Reply
#3
entropy13
by: HalfAHertz
That may be true for personal computers but out there in the server and hpc world where, you know nvidia is kind of trying to become relevant and an important player, linux is more like 75% of all computers... and as far as i know those fancy Tesla cards need drivers too because fairy dust don't cut it.
Torvald complained about Optimus, which isn't relevant to anything you mentioned.
Posted on Reply
#4
okidna
by: HalfAHertz
That may be true for personal computers but out there in the server and hpc world where, you know nvidia is kind of trying to become relevant and an important player, linux is more like 75% of all computers... and as far as i know those fancy Tesla cards need drivers too because fairy dust don't cut it.
HPC market won't care about open source driver, they want stability and they've no need to tweak anything in the driver (they won't play games or watch HD videos). NVIDIA closed source driver will serve them well.

Most of the complaints come from kernel developer and end user.
Kernel/driver developers want their distro to support as many features as possible (e.g : Optimus) and better support for as many game titles as possible to avoid complaints from end user.
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#5
phanbuey
by: HalfAHertz
That may be true for personal computers but out there in the server and hpc world where, you know nvidia is kind of trying to become relevant and an important player, linux is more like 75% of all computers... and as far as i know those fancy Tesla cards need drivers too because fairy dust don't cut it.
maybe in the HPC world... most of corporate america is moving away from linux/unix, and has been for some time.
Posted on Reply
#6
Assimilator
by: entropy13
Considering that Linux is only a tiny amount of the whole "operating system" environment, and Torvald's complaints only pertain to most probably 1% of Linux systems, Torvald ended up making a fool out of himself. For every one Linux system out there that could have used the features he complains about, there are nine Linux systems out there that have no use for the features he complains about.
This is exactly what I said in the other thread: nVIDIA aren't going to release features for 1% of their users if those features will potentially cause issues for the other 99%. And I was called a fanboy for pointing out the obvious... :rolleyes:
Posted on Reply
#7
FordGT90Concept
"I go fast!1!11!1!"
I think what Torvalds wants--and what we all should want--is standardized component power management not unlike ACPI's S1-S4. The hardware itself should monitor for activity and if it is idle and there is something to fall back on, it should do so. For example, discreet GPUs should fall back on integrated GPUs, hard drives and solid state drives should fall back on RAM (turn off, when enough data accumulates to write, turn the device back on do read/writes, turn it off again), media drives should have power cut off to them completely (except open button) when they contain media, etc. Look at every component of the system and look for ways to conserve power.

Torvalds could jury rig a solution if NVIDA's (or anyone's) GPU switching capabilties were standardized in the hardware as opposed to implemented in the drivers.

Batteries aren't improving fast enough so the only way to get better battery life is to cut consumption everywhere possible.
Posted on Reply
#8
repman244
by: entropy13
Torvald complained about Optimus, which isn't relevant to anything you mentioned.
But at the same time he said NVIDIA is one of the worst to work with...so that means he wasn't only talking about Optimus.
One of the worst trouble spots [they've] had with hardware manufacturers." He continued "...and that is really sad [for NVIDIA], because NVIDIA tries to sell a lot of chips into the Android market.
As you can see he also mentioned Android (Tegra 3) which is a huge market.
Posted on Reply
#9
Aquinus
Resident Wat-man
by: phanbuey
most of corporate america is moving away from linux/unix, and has been for some time.
That is bullshit and you know it. I manage 11 servers, and every single one of them runs linux. We had two Windows servers and we hated the application and Windows so much that we ditched it and put *nix on those servers and abandoned the ASP.net app we were running.

by: David Nagel
IDC noted positive demand for both Linux- and Windows-based servers. According to information released by the firm: "Linux server demand was positively impacted by high performance computing (HPC) and cloud infrastructure deployments, as hardware revenue improved 16 percent year over year in 1Q12 to $2.4 billion. Linux servers now represent 20.7 percent of all server revenue, up 3.3 points when compared with the first quarter of 2011."
Based on revenue, demand for Windows-based servers was up 1.3 percent in the quarter, accounting for 50.2 percent of all quarterly server revenues, an increase of 1.8 points from Q1 2011, according to IDC.
While Unix-based servers represented 18.3 percent of all revenues for the first quarter of 2012, the category saw a double-digit decline from Q1 2011, down 17.2 percent to $2.2 billion, IDC reported.
Source
In other words, Unix is phasing out, and linux is growing and catching up to Windows at a steady pace.
Posted on Reply
#10
acerace
by: Assimilator
This is exactly what I said in the other thread: nVIDIA aren't going to release features for 1% of their users if those features will potentially cause issues for the other 99%. And I was called a fanboy for pointing out the obvious... :rolleyes:
Are you?
Posted on Reply
#11
scoutingwraith
Looks like a basic marketing ad on their features. They should really give an explanation to the community.
Posted on Reply
#12
cadaveca
My name is Dave
by: entropy13
Torvald complained about Optimus, which isn't relevant to anything you mentioned.
Perhaps this was just a specific current example, and nVidia has been like this from day one?


It seems people forget that nVidia is a SOFTWARE COMPANY that sells some hardware too, and as such, software design and patenting is a huge part of the equity they carry. They are in the business, not of providing software for free, but in selling it...and not to the end user, but to those that provide content to the end user(which is what Torvalds provides for free).


Torvalds' complaints are 100% legit, unfortunately, but he's balking at the very reason nVidia exists, which is foolish. As and Open-Source developer, his focus is providing software for free, so truly, nVidia and Torvalds are anathema of each other. They will never work well together, and are very likely to never agree, too. What exactly is the big deal here?

I just see you minimizing Torvalds' position, even though his postition about this subject is dead-on, and denying such denies that nVidia is what they are...a software company. Frankly, I'm even surprised this whole thing is even getting as much attention as it is right now. This is truly nothing new.


The fact that nVidia felt they must respond about such things, and publically so soon, says far more than I'd rather comment on, really. Must be some new staff.:shadedshu They's just gone and validated Torvalds' postition here. Sometimes it is best to STFU.
Posted on Reply
#13
Assimilator
by: acerace
Are you?
If "fanboy" means "preferring quality and stability above everything else", then yes.
Posted on Reply
#14
btarunr
Editor & Senior Moderator
Added a poll.
Posted on Reply
#15
acerace
by: Assimilator
If "fanboy" means "preferring quality and stability above everything else", then yes.
If you're "preferring quality and stability above everything else", then why bother people calls you a fanboy. Everybody knows that is not a fanboy means.
Posted on Reply
#16
Disruptor4
by: Aquinus
That is bullshit and you know it. I manage 11 servers, and every single one of them runs linux. We had two Windows servers and we hated the application and Windows so much that we ditched it and put *nix on those servers and abandoned the ASP.net app we were running.

Source
In other words, Unix is phasing out, and linux is growing and catching up to Windows at a steady pace.
That survey may say one thing, but each company is different. I know at my work (global company with well over 150k employees in over 30 countries, that we use a majority of windows servers compared to linux. "A million to one" is what I was told (of course exaggerating, but you get the point)
Posted on Reply
#17
Prima.Vera
Because I work with more that a dozen of clients I can confirm this: ALL the big customers are using only Windows servers, while the smaller ones use Linux, but not all. I would say that at the moment Linux has like 1-2% share of the market, which is quite a lot if you ask me. Also good luck trying to find very good Linux tech support for the servers...
Posted on Reply
#18
Aquinus
Resident Wat-man
by: Prima.Vera
Also good luck trying to find very good Linux tech support for the servers...
A good systems admin shouldn't need tech support to run a linux server. That is a sign of an admin who can't do his job. :wtf:
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