General question about Nvidia Optimus

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General question about Nvidia Optimus

Postby FOSS-15-Great » 2020-08-03 20:04

Hello, I have a ThinkPad W541 [Haswell] i7-4810MQ with HD4600 iGPU and Nvidia Quadro 2100m. Scrren resolution is 2880x1620.

Whilst I am not running GU intensive programmes I am experiencing tearing when watching Netflix or iPlayer (BBC UK streaming). In my setup it would be sufficient to use the Nvidia GPU only with the power adapter connected.

My assumption is that the built-in iGPU is not capable of driving the display adequately at the required resolution and frame rate. This assumption may well be incorrect and if so I would love to be told!

In case I would like to utilise the dGPU I gather there are three choices:
  • Bumblebee
  • Nvidia-xrun
  • wait for Debian 11 to implement PRIMEOffload
Seeing that Bumblebee development has been discontinued I am leaning towards Xrun or just waiting it out until Debian 11 arrives.
In the meantime I would love to know what people on this forum think might be a way to go.

Thank you!
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Re: General question about Nvidia Optimus

Postby stevepusser » 2020-08-04 04:18

The default modesetting kernel driver for that iGPU doesn't support a Tearfree option. Perhaps you can use a compositor that supports syncing (aka Vsync or Vblank) or use the xserver-xorg-video-intel driver and add the Tearfree option to the 20-intel.conf file. That iGPU also supports va-api hardware accelerated video decoding for many video codecs, but IDK if those streams you mention use codecs your hardware will support, or if the application they use support it. Lord knows the trouble I've seen to get just one browser (a special chromium backport) to support va-api in Buster and MX Linux.

Anyway, your iGPU should support that HD video without tearing one way or another. You can also download some sample HD mp4 files to test with VLC, which should support va-api automatically once you install the necessary packages. You can use some of those to test for tearing--ones with explosions or flashes of light are good for exposing it.
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Re: General question about Nvidia Optimus

Postby FOSS-15-Great » 2020-08-04 09:46

Thank you, Steve - I have been following your chromium work via the thread on the forum and really appreciate all the hard work you are doing for this community. I will look into the options you have suggested (but am a little bit apprehensive about xserver-xorg-video-intel since the wiki says its use is being discouraged).

With the help of your Chromium port (no moved to the ungoogled on as per the thread) I have VA-API working. However, it does not seem to support Hardware Protected Video Decode which may be the reason the services I have mentioned aren't being decoded properly.

VLC HW decoding works so I will check some files as you are proposing. It is good to know that I should be able to get this done with my iGPU so at least I do not have to start tinkering with Optimus until it may become necessary for other reasons (i.e. running software that would benefit from the dGPU).
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Re: General question about Nvidia Optimus

Postby stevepusser » 2020-08-06 05:56

Well, I've been using the intel driver successfully with Tearfree with sixth and eighth-generation Intel GPUs, except that Google Earth Pro won't run with that driver, so I do use Bumblebee to provide the Nvidia driver for that and some other apps. It's my understanding that Bumblebee only lets the Nvidia GPU handle the 3D rendering in the background and hand it to the Intel GPU for the display--the Intel hardware never releases the 2D display, so I don't think that would help 2D video rendering. :?
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