26 October, 2009

NVIDIA & Linux

Phoronix.com recently interviewed one of NVIDIA's core linux driver engineers --Alan Ritger-- along with their technical marketing manager --Sean Kilbride-- about their development processes, IDE's, test-tools, etc. It proved to be quite an interesting read.

According to Ritger, NVIDIA engineers uses 'Perforce' for code management on big projects and/or big modifications, but are also able to maintain their own source tree with either git or quilt before submitting their changes to Perforce for quality assurance and to be included in the mainline code tree @ NVIDIA.

Phoronix also asked which IDE's and/or text editors they use, and Ritger said most engineers @ NVIDIA use either emacs or vim for their day-to-day development work. We're talking hardcore oldschool command-line development tools here.

Ritger also said most engineers use x86 as their base platform for driver development, but also focus alot on x86_64 for testing because most OEMs utilize 64bit nowadays.

Testing (which won't come as a shock to most linux-enthusiasts) is mostly done with in-house OpenGL test-tools, modified by engineers to reflect additional OpenGL extensions that are added and to accomodate for new GPU cores to be thoroughly tested. Games used in testing range from Quake 3, Doom 3 all the way up to ETQW. Testing frameworks include Viewperf, Unigine Tropics, Maya and yes, they even tend to use glxgears as a simple sanity test from time to time ;)

What DID shock me in the intervew however, was the question of how much codebase is shared between Linux and Windows, and the answer is, the OpenGL codebase shares A WHOPPING 90%! Yes, both Linux and Windows share a massive 90% of the NVIDIA OpenGL codebase. The X Windows driver is more UNIX-focused, but shares some code from the NVIDIA display drivers from other platforms and systems.

The main focus of the Linux NVIDIA driver development groups are for the Linux workstations used in the TV/movie-industry for advanced 3D work. But since their test-tools include a few popular computer games, the gaming aspect of it all is not completely forgotten :)

Even Ritger himself does a round of xpilot from time to time ;D

http://www.phoronix.com/ - 8-page interview

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