How to check which GPU is active in Linux?

  • I have 2 GPU's in my netbook. How do I know which one I'm actually using at any given moment?

  • I've just gone through a hell of a time trying to get my discrete graphics to work in Ubuntu and answering this questions was constantly a challenge, since the lspci method mentioned earlier can sometimes say that both are [VGA controller]

    I think the following command should give you an indication of your active chip:

    $ glxinfo|egrep "OpenGL vendor|OpenGL renderer"
    OpenGL vendor string: Intel Open Source Technology Center
    OpenGL renderer string: Mesa DRI Intel(R) Sandybridge Mobile

    For me this is telling me that my intel graphics are running the show. If you're using an nvidia chip, and you're using the bumblebee package, you can put optirun in front of that line and it should tell you that you're running the NVidia chip (optirun is basically telling the computer to use the discrete chip to run whatever command follows, but everything else is still using the integrated chip)

    $ optirun glxinfo|egrep "OpenGL vendor|OpenGL renderer"
    OpenGL vendor string: NVIDIA Corporation
    OpenGL renderer string: GeForce GT 555M/PCIe/SSE2

    glxheads also tells you some useful information about which graphics card is in use (mostly repeats glxinfo in a more compact and easy to read form tho), and it gives you a nice rendering of a rotating triangle.

  • To check which GPU is currently in command (that means which is an active VGA controller) type in

    lspci -vnnn | perl -lne 'print if /^\d+\:.+(\[\S+\:\S+\])/' | grep VGA

    Any controller with [VGA controller] at the end is your currently active GPU. The others are switched off. In the following example the Intel card is active while the nVidia one is not in use:

    00:02.0 VGA compatible controller [0300]: Intel Corporation Core Processor
    Integrated Graphics Controller [8086:0046] (rev 02) (prog-if 00 [VGA 
    01:00.0 VGA compatible controller [0300]: NVIDIA Corporation GF108 [GeForce
    GT 540M] [10de:0df4] (rev ff) (prog-if ff)

    Um... so what does it mean if both cards have `VGA controller` at the end?

    00:02.0 VGA compatible controller 0300 (prog-if 00 [VGA controller]) 01:00.0 VGA compatible controller 0300 (prog-if 00 [VGA controller]) what does it mean?

    Maybe you're using SLI?

    in my case both has that at the end: 00:02.0 VGA compatible controller 0300 (prog-if 00 [VGA controller]) 01:00.0 VGA compatible controller 0300 (prog-if 00 [VGA controller])

  • nvidia-smi -L

    This gave me what I wanted. This command shows the list of GPUs present on your machine. This might help you figure which are active ones.

    got the command from thread here: Ubuntu Box with multiple NVIDIA GPU Cards |

    anybody figured out how to find the free GPUs out of the ones returned by this command?

  • nvidia-settings GUI

    On Ubuntu 15.10, after I installed nvidia-352 and the GPU seems to work:


    shows something like:

    enter image description here

    Note how it shows:

    GPU 0 - (NVS 5400M)

    where NVS 5400M is my GPU model.

    Then if I fire glxgears, the GPU usage goes to > 90%.

    So I expect that if you had multiple GPUs, you could see how much each one was being used at a time.

    What is nvidia-352 exactly? Is is a bunch of drivers or just a driver for a specific GPU?

    @cosbor11 `nvidia-352` is the version of the driver / Ubuntu package n, each version supports many GPUs as listed on the official website: NVS 5400M is the GPU model:

  • Which OS are you using? If you use lspci on most linux machines you get a list of your pci devices, just grep for graphics devices and it should pop up both of them. After that just check out the config on each of them, you should see details of up/on/active or something to that nature.

    ubuntu 11.04. and lspci is showing all two gpu's.

  • nvidia-smi is very useful, but at times I've found that it doesn't always include everything. It seems when processes crash they aren't always listed.

    sudo lsof /dev/nvidia* has always worked for me. It will also work without sudo, but will only show processes owned by you. If you are working on a multiuser machine or are using docker, you will probably get better results with sudo.

    If you see a discrepancy between the 2 commands, you may want to consider killing the extra processes found with lsof.

  • In Ubuntu 20.04 this can be done from the GUI with the NVIDIA settings application:

    enter image description here

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Content dated before 6/26/2020 9:53 AM