While just yesterday NVIDIA released their 396.54 Linux driver update which some may overlook, its actually a significant performance update for Linux gamers – so definitely do not miss out on this update if you’re a Linux gamer using an NVIDIA card. NVIDIA released this 396.54 update specifically to address a resource leak that was plaguing the drivers back to the 390 series, and the resource leak was lowering performance after Vulkan and OpenGL applications had stopped and started on the system – though NVIDIA hasn’t gone into specific details regarding exactly why this was happening.
In any case, NVIDIA being fully aware it was a performance related issue, devoted some time to investigating it and it appears that things have become overall much smoother and stable with this latest driver update.
Some interesting benchmarks showcase the performance enhancements, taken by Michael Larabel of Phoronix. Utilizing a GeForce GTX 1060, GTX 1070 Ti, and GTX 1080, running on the Ubuntu 18.04.1 LTS distro, and with the 396.51 and 396.54 drivers for comparison, Michael was seeing as much as 10 – 20 FPS gains in games including BioShock, Deus Ex, Dirt Rally, Dota 2, Dawn of War III, F1 2017, Mad Max, Tomb Raider, Metro Redux, and a handful of others he tested.
The resource leak was obviously having a significant impact on performance degradation, and now that things seem to be much more stable (as high as 20% performance gains), there is going to be some serious competition between AMD and NVIDIA on the Linux platform.