Modders get GPU virtualization working on Nvidia consumer GPUs

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A group of modders have gotten GPU virtualization working on Nvidia GeForce consumer GPUs. This allows users to use a video card to run multiple virtual machines. The feature officially only works on Quadro and data center GPUs.

This vgpu_unlock mod recently appeared on Reddit, Tom’s Hardware also noted. Users can find the mod and installation instructions on GitHub. Among other things, users need to install the Nvidia GRID driver to get gpu virtualization working. That software requires a license, although Nvidia also offers a 90-day free trial. The mod works for various video cards with Pascal, Turing, or Ampere GPU. A list of supported GPUs can be found in the code. The mod makers warn that the mod has not yet been extensively tested.

The virtualization feature is normally only available for Nvidia Quadro graphics cards and data center GPUs. However, this is a software limitation, as these professional GPUs use the same chips as the GeForce consumer video cards.

This limitation works at the driver level, the mod’s makers explain on GitHub. The driver determines whether a video card supports the virtualization feature via an identifier, which is unique for each type of PCI device. The mod replaces this identifier with an identifier used by a video card that supports virtualization, causing the GeForce video card to be seen in the driver as a Quadro or data center GPU.

GPU virtualization allows users to split a video card and use it to control multiple virtual machines. This allows multiple users to use a single video card. This is different from the passthrough feature Nvidia recently tested for consumer video cards, which allows users to use a GeForce GPU for a single virtual machine.

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