A performance-tanking NVIDIA Linux driver regression was recently discovered in “Deus Ex: Mankind Divided.”

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NVIDIA DevTalk forums user HeavyHDX observed a 27% framerate drop between the 375.82 and 387.34 drivers. The poster later shared VRAM usage, showing the 387.34 drivers using over 30% more VRAM than the 375.82 drivers.

Arthur Huillet, former Nouveau developer and currently part of the NVIDIA Linux GPU driver team, later confirmed this by stating. “We’ve been tracking it internally as bug 1963500. There was a change, introduced in our r378 branch, to the logic of allocation of certain textures, but it apparently exposed a bug in our memory manager.” Huillet preceded to speculate the release of a 390 series beta driver before the end of the year. The version bump will include a workaround to the bug.

The issue does not appear limited to Feral games. Another poster reported performance losses in the VRAM-hungry Laminar Research title “X-Plane 11.” He reported VRAM usage increases from 8GB to maxing out his 1080Ti’s VRAM, reaching a total of 11GB RAM usage.

Exacerbating the issue could be the GTX 970’s 4GB of VRAM. The bug, causing VRAM usage to increase, pushes the card over its dedicated 4GB of RAM. This results in a performance drop. Another possibility is that going over 3.5GB of VRAM could be decreasing the 970 in particular’s performance.

HeavyHDx’s benchmarks also highlight an additional potential influencing factor. The desktop environment in use on the machine could impact gaming performance. The 375.82 drivers show a parallel between the gaming performance of GNOME and Openbox. The 387.34 drivers show a 16% performance drop when using GNOME 3. Whether this is a bug in GNOME exposed by the newer graphics driver is not yet clear.

Affected Graphics Cards and Distributions

The bug appears to affect all graphics cards using NVIDIA Linux drivers 387.34 or higher. Linux distributions shipping affected drivers include:

  • Ubuntu
  • Debian (Testing and Unstable)
  • Gentoo (Stable and Testing)
  • Manjaro
  • Solus
  • OpenSUSE (via the official NVIDIA repository)
  • Arch (Stable and Testing)

The status of the FreeBSD and Solaris binary drivers is currently unknown.

How has your experience with the current NVIDIA drivers been? Let us know in the comments below.

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