Valve has long been trying to get game developers and publishers to see Linux as a serious and profitable gaming platform and not simply because it loves the open source operating system. It basically wants games to be free from their reliance on Windows and Microsoft’s development frameworks and, eventually, to have them available on its own Linux-based Steam OS. Steam OS and Steam Machines have largely failed but Valve seems to still be pushing for Linux support for Windows games and its latest attempt is to get NVIDIA’s fancy DLSS technology to work on some of those titles.
Short for Deep Learning Super Sampling, DLSS is NVIDIA’s marketing term for supersampling that involves AI and machine learning to optimize the process. In a nutshell, machine learning determines which parts of an image frame are of more interest to gamers and, therefore, should be upsampled rather than applying it to the whole frame and all in real-time. The result, at least in theory, is faster frame rates that don’t perceptibly degrade graphics.
Of course, NVIDIA DLSS is a proprietary technology that is specifically made with Windows in mind. The chances of NVIDIA making it natively available on Linux is close to nil which is why Valve is taking a different route. It is working with NVIDIA to make DLSS work through Steam Photon, Valve’s tweaked version of the popular WINE software that enables Windows programs to run on Linux and some Unix-like operating systems.
While this sounds like great news, it has a few catches that almost make it sound like a pipedream. As Ars Technica notes, there is less than 60 games that support NVIDIA DLSS on Windows and even fewer of those actually work well on Linux via Steam Photon.
And there’s the situation where NVIDIA doesn’t have as many fans and users on Linux compared to AMD because of the quality of its graphics drivers. AMD’s version of DLSS called FidelityFX Super Resolution was also just recently announced and it ironically works even on NVIDIA cards that don’t support DLSS. Of course, there is still no hard evidence of that technology in practice and it’s probable AMD won’t bother making it available on Linux either.