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

Red Hat News

Phoronix Graphics News and Benchmarks

Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) Expands With Linkerd Project

  • Linkerd Project Joins Cloud Native Computing Foundation
    The Linux Foundation's Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) is expanding its roster of hosted projects today with the inclusion of the open-source Linkerd service mesh project.
  • Linkerd Project Joins the Cloud Native Computing Foundation
    Today, the Cloud Native Computing Foundation’s (CNCF) Technical Oversight Committee (TOC) voted to accept Linkerd as the fifth hosted project alongside Kubernetes, Prometheus, OpenTracing and Fluentd. You can find more information on the project on their GitHub page. As with every project accepted by the CNCF -- and by extension, The Linux Foundation -- Linkerd is another great example of how open source technologies, both new and more established, are driving and participating in the transformation of enterprise IT.

Don’t let Microsoft exploit Bangladesh’s IT talent

Open-source software is effectively a public good and owned by everyone who uses it. So there is no conflict of interest in the Bangladesh government paying programmers to fix bugs and security holes in open-source software, because the Bangladesh government would be as much an owner of the software as anyone else, and benefit from the increased use-value of the improved software as much as any other user. Read more