Nvidia and Valve Bringing DLSS to Linux via Steam Proton

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Nvidia today announced at Computex 2021 that it's partnered with Valve to bring its Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS) graphics tech to Linux via Steam Proton. Now people who game on Linux systems should be able to put their Nvidia graphics cards—including the new GeForce RTX 3080 Ti and RTX 3070 Ti—to even better use.

DLSS is Nvidia's solution to the problem of improving a game's performance without having to compromise too much on presentation. The first version of the technology debuted in September 2018; the second version was released in March 2020. Both versions were limited to RTX graphics cards used to play games on Windows.

That's about to change. Nvidia said in a press release that it, Valve, and "the Linux gaming community are collaborating to bring NVIDIA DLSS to Proton - Linux gamers will be able to use the dedicated AI cores on GeForce RTX GPUs to boost frame rates for their favorite Windows Games running on the Linux operating system."

Proton is Valve's open-source tool "for use with the Steam client which allows games which are exclusive to Windows to run on the Linux operating system," as it's described on GitHub, with some assistance from the Wine utility that Linux users have relied on to run Windows programs since its debut in 1993.

Valve said that Proton is built in to the Linux Steam Client Beta; the open-source project is meant to give "advanced users" more control over their experience. Presumably, the upcoming DLSS support will be part of the core Linux Steam Client Beta, but it could also be implemented as an optional feature, at least to start.

Nvidia didn't offer many other details about its partnership with Valve or to whom it was referring when it said "the Linux gaming community." But it did make it clear that Linux gamers won't have to wait long for DLSS: "Support for Vulkan titles is coming this month," the company said, "with DirectX support coming in the Fall."

The continued expansion of DLSS arrived shortly after AMD announced that its FidelityFX Super Resolution technology, which promises similar features but will be available on many hardware platforms, will be available on June 22. At least now Nvidia can say that DLSS will be available on multiple operating systems, right?

Nathaniel Mott
Freelance News & Features Writer

Nathaniel Mott is a freelance news and features writer for Tom's Hardware US, covering breaking news, security, and the silliest aspects of the tech industry.

  • excalibur1814
    But... why? Wouldn't Gabe be better off putting time into a new Half Life?
  • liamdawe
    Some friendly clarifications for you:
    It's not coming "via Proton", DLSS has been in the Linux driver since July 2020, this is expanded support to allow it work with Proton. We explained a bit more here, along with links to the work ongoing.
    Proton is available in the normal Steam client, and has been for years now.
    It also wouldn't be "part of the core Linux Steam Client Beta", since Proton is separate to the Steam Client. It installs like other games and applications, the work will all be inside the Linux drivers linked above and Proton itself.
    We have a dedicated Steam Play Proton page to help ;)
  • ezst036
    excalibur1814 said:
    But... why? Wouldn't Gabe be better off putting time into a new Half Life?

    For Valve, Linux is primarily (to my understanding) a huge insurance policy. Tomorrow is just as important to today. Valve has seen stiff competition against Microsoft with the MS store, and if Microsoft (who loves to follow everything Apple does) were to pull an Apple and Valve were to find itself in an Apple/Epic situation (Edited to add: regardless of who is right in Epic/Apple. I don't know.) then where does that leave Valve?

    That leaves Valve with Linux. What Linux is today compared to what it was before Valve became so vested as pro-Linux around a decade ago is a night and day comparison from the singular perspective of a gamer. It is such a pro-gamer platform now.(plenty of room to go, but still) We have AMD making completely open source drivers, and of course announcements like this. Nvidia can see the writing on the wall. Linux IS a gaming platform of the future. In many ways it already is a gaming platform of today. It's here. This is now.

    Even before Valve came on the scene, I was firm that if a game wasn't Linux compatible, then it wasn't a game I wanted to play. I utterly refuse to buy it. And many Linux users are the same way. This is another (however small you want to say it is, that's fine) reason is that Linux users are extremely loyal to the platform. Microsoft has simply bullied too many people and of the enemies it has made, they are enemies that it rightfully deserves including its former customers such as myself. You just can't bully your own customers. Not without some consequence and it's taken a while, but here it is.

    This is partly why at the end of the day, Linux (again, however small you want to say it is, that's fine) is a growing platform. You can pick any 5 year window you want.

    Five years ago, there were not as many Linux users as there are now today.
    Five years prior to that(10 years ago) there were not as many Linux users as there were in the first five years.
    Five years from now there will be more Linux users than today.

    Now why WOULDN'T Valve cater to a clearly growing platform? This isn't MacOS where Apple has clearly shunned the gaming community by stiffing Vulkan and built Metal just to be different for the sake of being different.

    There's a huge threat from Microsoft sitting there and the icing on the cake is that it's simply a fun platform which means that Valve's internal developers are probably loving every minute of it. Hey what's high internal employee morale worth? Just speculating.

    To answer you simply, no, Gabe would not be better off putting time into a new Half Life because he may not have a platform to sell it on. But you have to look beyond today to see that.