NVIDIA has been shown as one of the main obstacles to culminating the adoption of Wayland in GNOME (and hopefully soon also KDE Plasma). The biggest graphics hardware giant has always shown a clear disregard for the standard GNU / Linux graphics stack, a situation that was made worse when it stubbornly used EGLStreams as a Wayland buffer.
The NVIDIA support situation for Wayland reached a truly unsustainable extreme, to the point of putting the company in a difficult situation. The growing anger of the community (with more than justified criticism), the appearance of OneAPI, the abandonment of Xorg and especially the failure of EGLStreams when it was implemented caused NVIDIA to end up rectifying and adopting, possibly in its own way, the standards that already they were implemented by AMD and Intel a long time ago.
NVIDIA’s stubbornness to impose its own vision around Wayland has positioned it, at x86 at least, as the graphics manufacturer that lags the furthest behind in supporting the protocol. One of the most serious aspects is the fact that the official driver (Nouveau can) cannot run hardware-accelerated XWayland, making, for example, the performance of video games that are supported by Xorg to be mediocre when they are run on a Wayland session, where they rely on XWayland to function. While Intel and AMD graphics have identical performance regardless of the graphics server used, NVIDIA users with the official driver see how many applications have a much lower performance when run in a Wayland session.
NVIDIA’s turnaround appears to be translating into steps in the right direction, and one of those steps is the fact that the two patches proposed in January by Erik Kurzinger, NVIDIA engineer, have recently been merged into Xorg to give support for the official XWayland driver accelerated by hardware via OpenGL and Vulkan. Kurzinger acknowledged that there is still work to be done, but that “performance should be roughly on par with native X11” based on tests he did himself.
However, not all are joys in this news, because the discontinuation of Xorg has brought a series of consequences that could delay the massification of NVIDIA patches. First of all we have the momentum of XWayland as a separate development from Xorg, so patches are not present in XWayland version 21.1 at the moment. Second, the fact that the patches will be present in a very up-to-date version of Xorg will mean that support will not extend until at least the fall of this year, so be patient.
In short, NVIDIA still has a way to go to get its Wayland support ready for production. The forecast is that the 470 series of the company’s driver will have all the necessary foundations, but this will depend on the version of XWayland and probably also Wayland. If Canonical decides not to back down on the new opportunity it has given to the graphics protocol, NVIDIA is going to have to hit the gas if it doesn’t want to put Ubuntu 22.04 LTS users in a bind, although the Xorg session will most likely continue there when it’s released.