As I posted earlier this week, nVidia is looking for a way out of it's quandry: they have a dozen of third party licenses their technology is based upon (physx, cuda, etc...) that prevents them from being able to open source their drivers, and that has been holding them back for a very long time:
- They have had to incorporated their third part licensed technologies into linux drivers for the longest time, making driver development very expensive, and locking them down from the latest technologies (they haven't had a working linux kernel 3.11/3.12 compatible driver for months);
- They have been marketing cards like the Titan, which are compute optimized cards, but have been unable to provide functioning drivers for the primary compute market, the professional market, where linux is the primary platform (game development, even for development of games for other platforms, linux has been the industry standard development platform for years, animated movie development, which has always been a linux-only affair, industrial 2D/3D development, prototyping, research, scientific computing, etc...);
- The fact that they depend heavily on third party licenses for all of their products (even their Tegra platform consists almost completely of third party licensed technology), makes their products very expensive for what they are, so for the price, the customers expect more performance, and not being able to provide that performance on non-legacy platforms is killing their reputation, especially in the professional world;
- With Adobe deciding to move to OpenCL instead of CUDA because of the inability of nVidia to evolve past it's closed source performance barrier, they didn't want to lose the gamer market also (the last straw they're holding onto), so they decided to gradually release hardware information to the open source community now (I posted the link to the ftp site where they publish their hardware info in another thread), in the hope that the open source community can do what they can't, make decent modern drivers for non-legacy operating systems;
- they have been working with several projects, steamOS being one of them, but this is not a huge deal, and it is not a sign that nVidia cards are a good choice, because quite frankly, nVidia has nothing to bring to the table when it comes to open source and linux.
- if valve decides to stay compatible with the crappy old nvidia linux proprietary drivers, they lock themselves out of evolving steamos beyond kernel 3.10, which is a really bad thing in the long run, because a lot of graphics performance of open source-friendly graphics cards, AMD and Intel, is unlocked after kernel 3.11, with kernel 3.12 and mesa 9.3, Intel iGPU graphics outperform expensive nVidia cards in linux, that's how bad the linux performance of nVidia cards in linux looks! W21ith Mesa 10.0, OpenGL 3.3 compliance will come to the linux graphics stack, but that only works on kernel 3.12, so not on nVidia cards.
- So in short: nVidia is not really working with SteamOS, it's more working against it, because if Valve doesn't want to leave nVidia-card users behind, they can't evolve to the newest high performance graphics technologies. So when nVidia says that they are "working with" Valve, they actually mean: "making sure Valve is kept happy so they don't leave nVidia behind".
- Very clear recommendation for the future of gaming as far as hardware goes: make sure you have AMD or Intel graphics (and AMD graphics is much faster overall in linux than nVidia, and is cheaper, so that's not a punishment), and make sure you have a hardware virtualization capable CPU and motherboard (because you'll probably want to use hardware virtualization for maximum performance and security while implementing a solution for playing games on multiple platforms).